CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Top 30 prospects: Excited about 2011 NBA Draft? You shouldn't be

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Want to know the only thing worse than the 2010 NBA Draft?

The 2011 NBA Draft.

Harrison Barnes will be the face of an NBA franchise. (Getty Images)  
Harrison Barnes will be the face of an NBA franchise. (Getty Images)  
Trust me, I've spent the past few days looking at it. It's about as promising as Italy's World Cup hopes, which can be attributed to the fact (or at least the theory) that the high school prospects who entered college last year are better than the high school prospects entering college this year, and because the players who returned to college last year are better than the players who returned to college this year. Last year we had Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, Ed Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu and Cole Aldrich return to school. This year there's ... John Henson and Trey Thompkins?

You excited yet?

The only hope is that some college veterans emerge like Ekpe Udoh emerged this past season, or that some of the incoming freshmen are way better than expected. Short of that, remember where you heard it first: The 2011 NBA Draft will mostly be uninspiring.

Either way, here are college basketball's top 30 prospects for it:

1. Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)

Barnes isn't an explosive prospect like Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin or John Wall, but he might be the best total package in a long time. The 6-foot-8 wing can shoot from deep or mid-range, rebound, pass, everything. His work ethic is beautiful, he's as far from a character-risk as there's ever been, and the only real shame is that he's actually going to be a pro basketball player. I'd rather Barnes be a senator. Maybe someday. But for now, I'll have to settle for watching the Iowa product be the face of an NBA franchise.

2. Brandon Knight (Kentucky)

John Calipari was pretty much assured of having a point guard selected in the top five for the fourth consecutive year when Knight committed to Kentucky. The 6-3 Florida native is a strong and athletic playmaker who will flourish in the dribble-drive offense (when the Wildcats actually run the dribble-drive offense). So if you're tired of seeing Calipari in the green room at The Theater, I apologize, because that's not changing anytime soon.

3. Perry Jones (Baylor)

Jones probably won't have the impact Udoh had last season at Baylor, but he could still be among the best big men in college basketball, and he'll almost certainly be the best NBA prospect in the paint. The 6-11 center is super athletic with decent skills. A team drafting for upside could hardly do better.

4. Enes Kanter (Kentucky)

Kanter should tear through the SEC with a physical approach unmatched. He got 34 points and 13 rebounds in the Nike Hoop Summit, and he might have some games like that in college, too. Is Kanter a typical NBA athlete? No. But if production matters, he's a top five pick.

5. Josh Selby (Kansas)

Selby is an explosive combo guard capable of posting big college numbers right from the start. He'll blow by defenders, dunk on big men, and talk about it while it's happening. His intensity and attitude might turn some people off, but I'm not sure there will be a more exciting player to watch.

6. Cory Joseph (Texas)

This is high for Joseph, I know. But I love the Canadian import because he's a good-sized point guard who can also move away from the ball and really shoot it (proof being how he won the 3-point contest at the McDonald's All-American game). How Rick Barnes chooses to use Joseph at Texas will be crucial. But his talent is obvious, and his impact should be huge.

7. John Henson (North Carolina)

I spent a portion of last preseason explaining to North Carolina fans that Henson wasn't a wing regardless of what they'd been told. He's more of a skinny power forward who can drift to the perimeter than he is a 6-10 small forward. Regardless, he's a nice prospect. He just needs some weight, some experience, and a few more touches around the rim.

8. Will Barton (Memphis)

Joe Jackson will get much of the attention at Memphis next season, and rightfully so. He's a local product, a McDonald's All-American, and the person who will have the biggest impact on the Tigers, positively or negatively, because of how much the ball will be in his hands. But he won't be the best NBA prospect on Josh Pastner's roster. That label will belong to Barton, a 6-6 wing who should be an elite scorer right from the start.

9. Kyrie Irving (Duke)

Irving isn't physically overwhelming, but he has great instincts that have him prepared to play on the massive stage Duke provides. It's been a long time since a freshman point guard led a team to a national title. This New Jersey native could break the streak, then become a lottery pick.

10. Renardo Sidney (Mississippi State)

I'm shocked Sidney is still in school, and I've been hard on him in the past. But what you'll see next season is that he's an undeniable talent when he applies himself. Will he do that? I can't say for sure. But if the 6-9 forward gets into shape and decides to dominate on the block rather than on the perimeter, he'll be fabulous. And if he's fabulous, he'll be a top 10 pick.

11. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)

12. Trey Thompkins (Georgia)

13. Kyle Singler (Duke)

14. Terrence Jones (Kentucky)

15. Jordan Hamilton (Texas)

16. Elias Harris (Gonzaga)

17. Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis)

18. Jeff Taylor (Vanderbilt)

19. Chris Singleton (Florida State)

20. Marcus Morris (Kansas)

21. Kemba Walker (Connecticut)

22. Scotty Hopson (Tennessee)

23. Nolan Smith (Duke)

24. Derrick Williams (Arizona)

25. JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)

26. Kris Joseph (Syracuse)

27. Travis Leslie (Georgia)

28. Aaric Murray (La Salle)

29. Kevin Jones (West Virginia)

30. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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