Draft 2011: Top C Prospects, Vol. 1
Better have your passport ready.
You interested in checking out the top center prospects in this year’s Draft live and in person? Well you better get your passport ready. The vast majority of potential centers expected to be available in the 2011 Draft reside overseas, including an American playing in the Far East. And if it wasn’t for Lithuania, this list would be even weaker and thinner than it already is.
1) Jonas Valanciunas | Lietuvas Rytas | 1992
We wrote extensively on Lithuanian prospect Jonas Valanciunas right here so we won’t go into too much more detail at this point. But we will say that Valanciunas is having a great debut season in the Euroleague, putting up a very solid line of 7.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 91.7 percent from the free-throw line in 15 minutes per game. His continual year-to-year progress, size and potential have him pegged as a potential top-3 pick in June.
2) Enes Kanter | N/A | 1992
Despite being ruled ineligible by the NCAA and sitting out this season at Kentucky, Enes Kanter is still projected as a top-10 pick this year. It just goes to show how high scouts are on the Turkish big man, who is strong yet skilled, with a plethora of post moves as well as the ability to hit jumpers, plus has a good work ethic and attitude to boot. He could end up jumping ahead of Valanciunas in the pecking order by the time draft day rolls around.
3) Donatas Motiejunas | Benetton Treviso | 1990
You’d think being considered a top-10 prospect would make Donatas Moteijunas the king of Lithuanian basketball, but alas, he’s not even the best Lithuanian center prospect this year. But that isn’t to say that Motiejunas isn’t still a great prospect — he’s putting up a very solid 12 points and 4 boards a game this season in the Italian League for Andrea Bargnani’s old team, who also happens to be the player Motiejunas is often compared to.
Standing 6-9, Rick Jackson is probably more of a power forward at the next level, but he’s got the bulk and the wingspan of a center (plus our list of centers is thin) so he comes in at number four on the top center prospect list. After losing weight and getting in shape over the summer, Jackson is having a tremendous senior season, averaging 13.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 2.4 bpg. While he doesn’t project to be a NBA star, he could be real solid role player, providing the dirty work in the paint.
5) Jeremy Tyler | Tokyo Apache | 1991
While Brandon Jennings’ sojourn overseas proved to be great for his NBA development, the same probably won’t be said about Jeremy Tyler. After flunking (both on the court and off) his first test overseas last year in Israel, Tyler is playing this season in the basketball backwoods of Japan. He’s producing fairly well — 8.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg — but the level of competition is rather weak. Still, his size, athleticism and youth will probably be enough to have a team take a flyer on him in the second round of this year’s Draft.
Next in line:Aaric Murray, LaSalle; Giorgi Shermadini, Panathinaikos; Leon Radosevic, Cibona VIP Zagreb; Lucas Nogueira, MMT Estudiantes.