Draft 2011: Top 5 SF Prospects, Vol. 1
There’s plenty of talent to choose from in this small forward class.
The 2011 NBA Draft’s shooting guard class might be weak, but the same can’t be said about its counterparts on the wing – the small forward prospect pool is deep and talented. And this despite the fact that the player long projected as the number one pick in the draft, Harrison Barnes, hasn’t lived up to his hype and has plummeted down the mock draft rankings. So how talented is the 2011 small forward class? So talented that the reigning Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four can’t even crack the top five.
It’s no shock that a freshman tops our small forward ranking; the shocking thing is his name is Terrence Jones. But Jones definitely deserves it after his outstanding play for the Wildcats thus far. In fact, the Portland native has wowed scouts enough to firmly put himself in the top 10 of June’s draft. Coming in at 6-8, 226 lbs with a 7-3 wingspan, Jones has terrific size, athleticism, skills and strength that will allow him to play either forward spot in the NBA He’s a terrific rebounder, great at drawing fouls and is good at blocking shots.
Shockingly, sometimes freshmen players actually play like freshmen. That would be the case for Harrison Barnes, who didn’t live up to his immense (perhaps unfair) hype early on in his North Carolina career, leading to a drop in his draft ranking. But all is not lost – Barnes has been much improved as of late, scoring in double-digits in his past six games, including 25 points-six boards and 26 points-six boards in his last two games. He’s still a tremendously talented prospect who could end up being a steal if he goes late in the top 10 as currently projected.
The Texas Longhorns have been a pleasant surprise this season, and they’re being led to the upper echelons of the national rankings by sophomore wing Jordan Hamilton. The 6-7 Cali product can flat out score, mostly due to his great shooting touch – he’s shooting 42% from three-point range this season. He should hear his name called in the middle of the first round of the draft.
An even bigger surprise than the Longhorns has been the play of the San Diego State Aztecs, who have been unstoppable (save for their loss to BYU) this season. They are also led by a sophomore wing player, Kawhi Leonard. The 6-7 Leonard is a terrific athlete and a rebounding monster (10.5 rpg), but he needs to work on his perimeter skills (ball-handling, outside shot) to become a really effective NBA player. Still, he could be a nice pickup at the mid to late range of the first round.
While his offensive game is still a work in progress, Chris Singleton could still sneak into the lower half of the lottery this June. Standing 6-9, Singleton is a great athlete that is a menace on defense, blocking shots and stealing passes at a great clip. A little more polish on offense and he could become a terrific NBA pro, capable of playing either small or power forward.