Tag:Terrence Jones
Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 3:57 pm

UNC-UK NBA Draft Prospect Grades

By Matt Moore


Well, that was fun.

There are worlds of storylines coming out of college basketball's titanic clash between Kentucky and North Carolina, a 73-72 Wildcats win on the back of an Anthony Davis block. And what could have been more fitting than a block by the projected No. 1 prospect in a game which featured a legitimate eleven first-round prospects between the 2012 and 2013 draft, and potentially more? It gave NBA fans a great look at talent.

It also gave NBA personnel a great look, and they were in attendance. More than half the teams in the NBA had representatives watching this game.

So how did they do? Quick, to the grade book!

(Note: These observations are based on how their performance showed for their draft stock, not necessarily how good or bad a game they had. Example: Harrison Barnes scored 1 bucket that wasn't a three-pointer. He also showed what you wanted to see from a prospect of his ilk.)

Anthony Davis: B-

And really, Davis is only getting the B- based on that final play which showcased the biggest reason he should be the undisputed No.1 overall pick in June. Davis managed to disrupt an entry pass, then recover weakside and block the game-winning shot. As my colleague, CBSSports.com college basketball expert Jeff Gooodman asked after the game, "Who else in the country can block that shot? Nobody."

But that play was an outlier for Davis on a day where scouts also got to see the concerns about him. On the very first play, the Tar Heels posted Tyler Zeller on Davis, and that started a day where Davis' lack of body strength due to his frame was finally shown on national television. Zeller bodied Davis all day, and while Zeller only scored 14 points, he would have had more had the Wildcats not consistantly brought doubles to help Davis. Davis is young, and has yet to grow into the eight inches he sprung into last year. He needs time in the weight room. A positive development was his rebounding: Davis did a much better job securing position and keeping space. 

Additionally, Davis' ball-handling, which was considered a strength thanks to his play at guard prior to the growth spurt, was off Saturday. Twice Davis attempted drives on John Henson and the play was dismantled because of Davis' handle. He attempted a three at one point, who knows why, and did not attempt to play back-to-the-basket.

On the positive side, however, Davis did force enough help on the pick and roll to open up lanes and perimter shots for teammates, and his range help defense continues to be downright terrifying. His and-one finish on a lob from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist showed his finishing ability. It wasn't Davis' best day against elite competition, but the fact remains: he is the No. 1 because no one else can do what he can do.

Harison Barnes: B+

Barnes had a prototypical Harrison Barnes game. He consistantly showed the polish that makes him a top-5 pick. The raw uneveness we saw last year is gone, replaced by a shooter (4-5 from deep) who will make you pay by finding ways to get open and making smart plays. Defensivly, Barnes was in position when he needed to be. His foul trouble disrupted excellent work he had done on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, which allowed for Kidd-Gilchrist's second half explosion.

Barnes still struggles with finishing shot that he creates, most notably a late miss inside of two minutes on a pull-up jumper. It was hero ball, which he'll likely be playing at the next level from time to time. But whereas last year he struggled with finding a quality shot on his own, on Saturday he created those looks, he just didn't knock all of them down. Barnes is not going to be a multi-faceted player, and isn't a playmaker, but the polish and range is more than enough to be considered an elite prospect. We're still waiting to see if he evolves into a complete threat versus being a complete player.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: A+

To start the second half, MKG scored seven points and assisted on a lob to Davis for an and-one. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, 4 offensive, with a block and a steal. So yeah, he had a pretty good day. Kidd-Gilchrist is setting himself up as the abject steal of the top ten. The secret lies in his weakness, which is the only reason he will not be the No. 1 or No. 2 pick.

Kidd-Gilchrist's shot mechanics are all kinds of funky. He has trouble spotting up and there's a hitch at his elbow. He needs extensive work to better his jumper so that defenders can't give him room. He also has trouble with defenders who have good ball denial, as Barnes, John Henson, and P.J. Hairston all gave him trouble.

But when he gets loose... Wow. He had several insid moves in traffic to drop jaws and his finish on offensive rebounds was a difference maker. 

Defensively is where he has the most potential. Against North Carolina he did an excellent job when matched up on Barnes. Against UNC he only got caught under screens twice and out of position twice that I saw, not bad for a freshman. He was aggressive in shot defense as well. MKG is the biggest winner of the day.

Terrence Jones: A

Best and worst, as always, with Terrence Jones. Jones had a sequence in which he made consecutive blocks to shut down a UNC possession only to watch the loose ball wind up in Harrison (swish) Barnes' hands. He attacked down low.

But then there's the perimeter shooting. I've made the Josh Smith mental comparison to Jones before, and this game re-enforced it. He hit a three... and wound up shooting five. Jones too often considers himself a perimeter threat instead of focusing on his ability to muscle and score inside. Defensively, he's got everything you want in a prospect, and he's a physical beast after another year. But that obsession with the perimeter continues, and someone will have to work it out of him eventually for him to be successful.

But Jones was still a huge plus for the Cats, and his work on the defensive side continues to impress. His first half was excellent.

John Henson: B+

Henson was given a series of tough matchups and excelled. His worst moment came on a pump-fake up-and-under from the left block resulting in an air-ball layup. But other than that he showed a surprisingly well-rounded offense.

Henson's length is a huge advantage, but the fact that his mid-range shot has come such a long way is a boon for his draft stock. He was limited in attacking at the basket thanks to Davis' length, but made up for it at the other end with three blocks. Henson is a likely top ten pick, based on his combination of size and savvy. His degree of polish helps as well.

Henson's weak point defensively Saturday was on weakside rotations. It's not a skill that's vital in most drafts since college players don't know how to play NBA defense. But in this draft it's crucial, and Henson got caught drifting several times Saturday.

Tyler Zeller: B

If the Tar Heels weren't en fuego from outside, Zeller may have wound up with more than fourteen points. As it was, he impressed with his ability to body the lengthy Davis back into the Kentucky coal mines. If he had a more explosive finish he could have really dominated the contest. But Zeller was also more efficient and kept up his expected level of activity. Zeller projects in the back half of the first round. But Zeller showed some of the skills Saturday that make him a likely long-term pro. He passes well out of the double and has enough touch to score when left open. He's never going to be a franchise player but he's likely to be a guy who can help your team win. Defensively, there's still a lot to be desired.

Kendall Marshall: A

Marshall doesn't have the athleticism. We knew that coming in. But what he does have is the ability to be efficient, to create, and to play within himself. Three turnovers were mostly on account of Kentucky's length, and his 2-4 shooting from deep was part of the Tar Heels' perimeter assault. Eight assists will also stick out in a game dominated by inside-out play.

Marquis Teague: C+

Teague blew the final possession, only to be saved by Davis, and it was coach John Calipari's decision to move Doron Lamb to point that helped steady the ship. On the plus side, his turnovers were down to only one after a rash of hem early this season, and he still has exceptional handle and speed. Teague continues to be the kind of player that right now is not a lottery pick, but you can easily see how he will be by season's end.

Doron Lamb: B+

There are questions as to whether Lamb is a first-rounder. He's not a great playmaker as his 2-4 assist-turnover ratio suggests. But he is an exceptional shooter, as he showed today, especially coming off the curl on the catch-and-shoot. He makes big shots consistently, and has enough speed and ability in the half court, you have to think someone will bite on yet another of Calipari's point guards.

P.J. Hairston: B+

Battling an injury, Hairston played just 14 minutes. But in that stretch he shot 3-4 from the arc and played lock-up defense on MKG. Hairston looks like a quality lottery pick, regardless of whether he jumps this season or next.

James McAdoo: B

McAdoo showed everything Saturday. He's tough. He's agile. He finishes. He's got an NBA-ready frame. He got very little time Saturday with all the other big names, but in 2013, he's going to be a machine. McAdoo has excellent court awareness. He shows all the raw signs you attribute to such players, but even in limited minutes, he looks like a big name to look for.

RELATED: Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com with a UNC-UK game wrap
Posted on: November 22, 2011 11:46 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 2:27 pm

The Draftbook 11.22.11: Getting to know you

The Draftbook is a collection of notes on prospects from our evaluation of players. Contributors come from all across CBSSports.com and are noted at the end of all notes. Notes on each player may be from multiple contributors. 

Anthony Davis 

[University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis has emerged as the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft owing to his unique combination of size, length, instincts, skill level and finesse. His ability to block shots as a one-on-one post defense and help defender are his calling card. He can close down passing and driving lanes, step out to defend the high post and switch onto perimeter players if necessary without getting immediately exposed.

Davis has regularly drawn comparison to Marcus Camby thanks to his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities. He will need to improve his strength – both upper and lower body – to become a Camby-esque rebounder at the next level, but he keeps plays alive and taps balls out relying on his wingspan alone.  

Tall and long enough to eventually play center in the NBA, Davis nonetheless freely moves around the perimeter, is comfortable turning to face the basket and has enough feel to develop a mid-range game. There’s a very real possibility that he turns into one of the best high screen-and-roll threats in the NBA. Davis has the size and footwork to set a worthwhile screen, the grace to roll quickly to the basket or fade to a spot, the hands to receive the pass and the length and leaping ability to finish well above the rim. He also could become an excellent high-post player with the skill to face the hoop and either use a dribble to collapse the defense or feed a more traditional low-post scorer with an entry pass.

Davis isn’t ready to be a franchise-changing player straight out of the gate but his learning curve won’t be that steep. He’s far more polish than project and should be in the All-Star discussion within four seasons assuming he continues to fill out.] - Ben Golliver

[Davis' best offensive ability so far has been in the pick-and-roll. Kentucky has ran it more this season than in years prior, and Davis has been a huge part of that. He sets solid screens and with his prior knowledge as a guard, understands how to navigate the lane for the passer. It doesn't hurt that his 7-4 wingspan allows him to pretty much catch and destroy the rim anytime they can execute the pass. He hasn't been asked to do much beyond that offensively, and scouts will want to see him play with his back to the basket as well as from short-range face-up. He's not the complete package, but his skillset just provides so much, it's easy to see why he's the consensus No. 1. 

Defensively everyone will rave about the measurables and athleticism, but maybe the more impressive element is how much effort Davis puts into that end of the floor. He's able to attack weakside and recover to his man, and there's not a shot he can't block. The phrase "JaVale McGee with a higher basketball IQ" has entered my mind more than one time when watching him defensively. That said, he hasn't faced a true post player defensively, and considering his slender frame and the fact he hasn't grown into his length yet, that's going to be an area of concern. Likewise he needs to improve his ability to hold rebounding ability because eventually he won't be simply long enough to snag whatever comes his way.] - Matt Moore

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

[Davis is the No. 1 overall at this point, but it's entirely possible that instead of Harrison Barnes or Jared Sullinger, two Wildcats are taken back-to-back at the top of the draft. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been very impressive early on, and even more so when you consider his pro prospects. A 6-7 forward, Gilchrist possesses an NBA-adaptable skillset with the mentality to match. His biggest weakness so far has been turnovers, but even that shows a willingness to function as a playmaker and not just as the tip of the spear. His handle in the pick and roll is going to be a major asset, and his frame allows him to back down smaller defenders. He's shooting 42 percent from the perimeter early on, and that range opens up his baseline burst which is exceptional. In short, it's hard to find a prospect element that's noticeably weak.

Defensively, he attacks well in transition and does a good job sticking. He's got a ways to go in that area in terms of technique, but his lateral quickness is sufficient and his chasedown block ability is reminiscent of some of the elite players in the game. He's a driven winner that is prone to visible frustration on the court, but not a degree he disengages when things are going poorly. MKG joins UConn's Jeremy Lamb as the fastest riser early in the season.] - Matt Moore 

Harrison Barnes

[You hear the term "NBA ready" but Barnes is all of that. His body is developed, his game is developed and mentally, he looks like he'll be prepared to step right in to a rotation.

Love Barnes' mid-range game. He strikes me a bit Rip Hamilton-ish in that he's really adept at coming off a screen and getting just enough space to release a jumper.

He uses his body well in traffic. Distributes weight and takes contact really well.

Good help defense instincts. He had one block in particular against Michigan State where he came seemingly from nowhere for a beak weakside block.

Hard to say exactly where he stands athletically. He's doesn't seem to have a lightning quick first step and in the one breakaway he had, his dunk was pretty pedestrian. Not to say he should've done a 360 or something, but I'm just not sure he's a crazy good athlete or anything. Not that he needs to be in order to make it in the NBA, but I just don't see him dunking over Dwight Howard or anything.

With Barnes, there's just a "feel" to him. He just always looks like he gets it. Where he needs to be, what shot is good and what's not, when to drive, when to pass -- he has a tremendous feel for the game. He lets it come to him and is just forceful enough.

Don't write Barnes off because he doesn't have incredible athletic ability. He's polished and understands spacing extremely well. There have been a lot of great scorers in the NBA exactly like him. ] - Royce Young

Jared Sullinger

[Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger has gotten lost a bit in the hype surrounding this year’s freshman class hype. After an offseason that saw significant weight loss and continued skill development, Sullinger is an improved version of the dominant low-post player he was as a freshman. Add improved quickness and stamina to his long list of positive attributes that already included soft hands, an excellent nose for rebounding positioning and leverage, a wide frame, a great motor, a positive disposition and confidence as a go-to scorer.  

Sullinger is crafty at sealing his man to establish position for an entry pass or, if possible, an over-the-top lob. He doesn’t require possession after possession of isolation opportunities, moving off the ball to create scoring chances and relentlessly crashing the offensive boards to keep plays alive or to scrounge out garbage points.

His weight loss is most noticeable on the defensive end. During Monday’s game against North Florida, Sullinger denied an entry pass in the post, stepped out to hedge on a high screen-and-roll, recovered and called out a defensive rotation to ensure the ball couldn’t be rotated, and then returned back to his original man as the clock wound down, boxing him cleanly for the defensive rebound. His quickness and ease in getting from the paint to the arc to the paint in rarely seen in someone his size.

Sullinger – who is listed at 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 -- will be questioned about his height every day from now until he has the chance to prove he can score against NBA defenders. Until then, he will continue to be arguably the biggest force in college hoops.]- Ben Golliver

Thomas Robinson

[Surprisingly, Robinson may be the Kansas prospect I've been highest on in a decade, and that includes two members of the national championship team and two members of the Final Four team from earlier in the 00's. Robinson came in over the summer at 6-10 in a non-university measurement, with a 7-1 wingspan. His aggression inside in finishing on the putback has made him an abject beast. He's got the NBA body. There's no issue of frame or explosion-loss as he puts on weight. He's beefy and still able to detonate. He runs the floor well and can finish in traffic. He's not bothered by contact and can take and give a bump. 

His lateral quickness is good enough for him to be able to guard stretch-fours at the next level, and while gaurding fives is going to be too steep of a hill to climb (he plays closer to 6-9), he's the kind of body you can trust to take a beating. He maintains a nice consistent effort at both ends and has good instincts of when to bring help. 

He would benefit tremendously from showing any semblance of an offensive game outside of finshing for layups or putbacks. His back to the basket game hasn't been shown as much but he's got great a great baseline spin when he goes to it. He lacks a guard to run a pick and roll with, which is an area he might excel in, given his skillset. Robinson looks to be a solid top-ten prospect early.] - Matt Moore

[Chiseled and ready to take his game to the next level. God, that sounds so cliche, right? Except Robinson only played bench minutes last year. Now he's expected to contribute more than 30 per game. And he's ready for it. Alpha.] - Matt Norlander

Austin Rivers

[Duke freshman Austin Rivers is another in a long line of polarizing score-first guards who need the ball to be at their best but lag behind as natural play-makers. In addition to good size – 6-foot-4, 195 pounds – Rivers has excellent burst off the dribble, comfort going both left and right, a trusty crossover going either direction and NBA range on his jumper.  Put that together and he can break down a defense from the top or the wing in fairly rapid fashion. His bread-and-butter right now is getting all the way to the rim to finish, something he will be doing with less frequency at the next level. Still, he’s not afraid to pull up or toss up a floater, and he moves with sufficient control that most of his attempts are fairly high percentage looks.

He gets into trouble when he starts to force things. He’s prone to forcing up shots in traffic, making inconsistent reads of the team defense facing him and missing open teammates on the block or on the perimeter. It’s clear he has the green light with the ball in his hands, but he can become an efficiency drag right now. If his shot isn’t falling or the ball isn’t in his hands, he drifts; a vast majority of his offense and opportunities are created off the dribble. 

Defensively, he’s best suited to guarding NBA two guards and combo guards given his height and length even if he’s a bit shorter than a conventional NBA two. His generally mentality is head, as you would expect from a coach’s son, but he can range from intensely competitive when things are going well to a half-touch out of control when they aren’t.] - Ben Golliver

[Rivers has issues with identity, and that's going to be a problem if he attempts the leap after the first year. His size indicates a point guard, both in height and frame, but he's clearly looking to score at any and all opportunities. His vision hasn't revealed itself to be adequate yet. More notably, his passes lack velocity and accuracy, too often he's lofting college passes when the Duke offense needs him whipping the ball. He's got more than a passing fascination with NBA range and seems at times to be in a shooting contest with Seth Curry. 

It's very early, so we're definitely not making an predictions about Rivers (or any player), but he's not been among the early impressers.] - Matt Moore

Terrence Jones

[University of Kentucky sophomore Terrence Jones is nearly the prototype for the NBA stretch four: versatile enough to spend some time at the three, strong enough to log minutes at the four.

A lefty, Jones rarely goes right whether he’s facing up off the dribble or backing down a smaller defender in the post. He’s quick, powerful and smooth when creating his own face-up offense, drawing comparisons to Lamar Odom, but his lack of range and preference for settling for easier shots rather than working for quality looks limits his utility to some degree.

Jones isn’t afraid to scrap under the basket and he will be an effective rebounder on both ends at the NBA level. His motor on defense is very good and he is a high-pressure defender both in the post and on the perimeter, racking up blocks and deflections. Right now, he’s equally prone to producing absurd displays of athleticism and making knucklehead decisions.] - Ben Golliver

John Henson

[It's really hard to keep Ed Davis out of your head while watching Henson. Long, lean and left-handed.

I also couldn't get Marcus Camby out of my head while watching him. He's the type of player that impacts everything defensively. His length is just unavoidable. He's everywhere in the paint. His wingspan darn near covers block to block in the paint. He's got great instincts and absolutely could lead the NBA in blocks some day.

He's got a long way to go offensively. But that's not his game. He's not going to back anyone down or pull off a big drop-step move or anything. He's not really going to be effective in the pick-and-pop game. But he's going to be available for any oop you throw and he's going to be a menace on the offensive glass, just because of his length and athleticism.] -Royce Young

[Henson's already penciling himself in for a "known commodity" spot in the lottery. There are players you take on upside and players you take because you know they'll contribute. Henson's got a strong enough set of assets and skills to assure himself a spot without ever being a star.

Offensively his greatest strength is his explosion baseline. He's most comfortable there, and with his handle on his spin move, that could be the kind of signature strength he needs. His spacing of the floor for lobs is superb. Paired with a quality point guard, his rookie production could surprise] - Matt Moore

James McAdoo

[My early impression is that McAdoo might be a player better suited with another year in college. He's just a freshman and while he's got a solid 6-8, 225-pound frame, he could still stand a little more muscle and development, especially if he's going to play the 4 in the NBA.

Speaking of, he saw just 17 minutes against Michigan State. He wasn't all that involved offensively and really looks like he's just a raw talent that needs some development. By the end of the year, he could be seeing major minutes though. There's just so much depth up front for the Tar Heels right now.

His wingspan. Talk about some length.

He's smooth. He has the look of a guy that hasn't even started scraping his potential. He could be a terrific inside-out guy.] - Royce Young

Tyler Zeller

In terms of college production, Zeller is probably the best player North Carolina has. He's a bit Tyler Hansbrough-ish in that he produces mostly on motor and effort over raw skill and athletic ability. But don't take that as he's not a good athlete. Because he can jump and run really well, especially in that seven foot body.

My question for Zeller mainly is, what will he do well in the NBA? Is he a banger? A defensive stopper? A Kris Humphries type that just churns out double-doubles? I don't think he's starting center material, but there's still a little left to his game to be developed. He has some touch.

Zeller is the type of player than can appear dominant in college because he's got tremendous size and a lot of ability within that, but when he gets to the NBA and starts seeing guys as big and athletic as him, will he be able to do the same things?

To that point, it'll likely come down to what Zeller is capable of defending at the next level. His lateral quickness didn't blow me away and I'm not sure he's really got the brute force to take on guys like Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Andrew Bynum or Nene. But is he athletic enough to cover 4s? I doubt it. He could be caught in between a bit.] - Royce Young

Kendall Marshall

[One thing sticks out when watching Marshall: court vision. He sees the floor extremely well. He had one leak out pass against the Spartans that blew me away. He got a long rebound, quickly looked up and hit a streaking teammate in the span of about two seconds. Impressive.

Some are going to think that because Marshall doesn't score much that he's not NBA lottery material. But he's a floor general in the truest sense of it. He tries to control the game from start to finish.

Good size (6-3), but not overly quick or athletic.

Not a good shooter by any means. His form is iffy from outside and he has a pretty slow motion. I could see an NBA coach trying to overhaul that.

He plays with great pace. He's quick without hurrying and always under control. It's extremely rare to see him reckless on a possession. Hardly ever makes a bad decision with the ball in his hands. 

- He's going to have to improve as a finisher at the next level. What makes a good point guard isn't just the ability to control a game passing the ball, but also have the ability to drive and score. He needs to just watch Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker for hours on ends.] - Royce Young

Andre Drummond

[It's still early and Drummond's not yet adapted to that UConn offense yet. It's not the college game -- it's playing for Calhoun. Just give it some time.] - Matt Norlander

Drummond's improved tremendously since his opening night disaster. But one thing should remain in sight: there's time for the kid. It would be better not to rush a big man with his particular set of assets (raw, hyper-athletic, tremendous length, questions about mental preparation) into the next level until he's ready. If he needs a year of coming off the bench or playing a complimentary role to grow into his confidence, that will do more for him than another year of strength training in the NBA. Drummond has every ounce of potential he's been hyped to have. But there's also no reason to force him to be ready right now. We'll give him the year but remain cautious about him being a lock.] - Matt Moore

Jeremy Lamb

[Re: Drummond. Look right here. Lamb was a nobody at this time last year. Now he's seen as a surefire lottery pick -- and he's looked fantastic to start the season. Have already heard top-three talk. ] - Matt Norlander

[The dunk. That's all I needed. Lamb's the alpha dog scouts love, and probably has the greatest gain potential from season start position to season's end. 

An underrated aspect of improvement? Lamb's becoming a ball-hawk. He's got great anticipation on the edge. ] - Matt Moore

Patric Young

[When you make Jared Sullinger look undersized, it's impressive. Young handled himself well against Ohio State last week, even though his team lost the game to the Buckeyes. There are plenty of people still waiting to see what Young is -- is he just a physical freak that lacks a couple of true, go-to weapons? Does he have a particular skill outside of Tyrannosauring his way around the block?] - Matt Norlander

Marquis Teague

[Here's a weird cross-section. Teague's biggest issue has been turnovers early on. He's burning through them at an alarming clip. But Teague also possesses one of the better handles I've seen from the top prospects. He's got the athletic speed you've come to expect from Calipari guards, and a killer crossover. His decision making hasn't caught up to his athletic ability yet, and it shows. Teague's likely to have one or two terrific games as the season goes on and he settles down, but he's also caught up in a team that's bursting with talent. 

However... Teague's also shooting 67 percent from range this season early on.  His spot-up shooting is a terrific addition to his skillset. If he can just quit with the six-turnover games, he's going to go back up the draft board.] - Matt Moore

Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:24 pm

UK's Knight, Jones and Liggins declare for draft

Posted by Royce Young

Much like the Kentucky trio of players that played one year in Lexington and then took their talents to the NBA, Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones have declared for the draft.

Neither has hired an agent as of yet, leaving the door open to return to school. However, with both projected to go in the lottery, I'd imagine they'll stick. They have until May 8 to withdraw from the draft and return to Kentucky.

(Also declaring is DeAndre Liggins, junior. He didn't hire an agent yet either.)

With this draft class seen as universally weak, Knight and Jones help things a bit. Knight will likely be the second point guard chosen behind Kyrie Irving with some projections have him going as high as three. Jones is a bit on the fringe of the lottery, but as a versatile, big swingman in a weak draft, he'll probably find a spot in the lottery.

However, neither of these two Kentucky super-freshmen look near as NBA ready as DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall or even Eric Bledsoe did. Knight has some clear holes in his game. There are a lot of concerns that he is the type of point guard that can step in and take over a team and run it. He's a solid scorer, but doesn't posess the same floor generalship that Irving does.

Jones is just inconsistent. He's incredibly skilled for his size (6-8 with a 7-2 wingspan). He can handle, pass, score inside and out, rebound and defend. His biggest issue is not doing all those things at once. He shot the ball poorly in the NCAA tournament and for most of the conference season. He just seems to have problems bringing it consistently, which in a league with 82 games and a game nearly every other night, is a bad thing.

Like I said, I'm assuming Knight and Jones will stay in the draft. Liggins might pull out, but he could see an opportunity to sneak into the first round with this being a weak draft. His stock rose with a solid NCAA tournament where he hit some big shots. Players like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger likely influenced these decisions a bit with their decision to stay in school. Especially for Jones who is almost a lock for the lottery now.
Posted on: March 27, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 1:05 am

Nets owner Jay-Z celebrates Final Four with UK

New Jersey Nets owner Jay-Z spent Sunday night celebrating with the University of Kentucky after the team secured a trip to the Final 4. Posted by Ben Golliver. jay-z-kentucky

As the University of Kentucky Wildcats were celebrating a 76-69 victory over North Carolina that sent them through to the Final 4 on Sunday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the team was greeted by an unexpected visitor: rapper and New Jersey Nets co-owner Jay-Z.
Jay-Z, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, is a partial owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets. UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said his visit to the UK locker room wasn't planned in advance.
Peevy wasn't certain if the rapper had been in the stands for the game. He was waiting in the hallway as UK players returned to the locker room after the game, and players were caught by surprise.

“I said, ‘Oh that's Jay-Z!' ” forward Terrence Jones said. “We all gave him a handshake and he came in the locker room, and we just kept screaming ‘Jay-Z in the locker room!' He congratulated us, just said he was proud of us.”
When your team is headed for its fifth straight trip to the NBA Draft Lottery, you might as well get an early start on getting to know your future players, right? Kentucky has two potential lottery picks -- guard Brandon Knight and forward Terrence Jones -- this season after becoming the first program to ever produce five first round picks in 2010. That locker room would be a pretty awesome place to be if you're a fan of basketball, especially if you're a fan of basketball and happen to co-own an NBA team.

I can understand Jay-Z's desire to hang out with winners for a change, but this seems like it should be against some NBA protocol or another. While it's not that big of a deal -- certainly nothing compared to the New York Knicks illegally working out recruits --intentional contact between an NBA owner and future NBA players while they're still in college just months before the draft screams competitive advantage and slippery slope. What's next? Kentucky wins the title and Jay-Z greets them with an Ace of Spades shower and a rainstorm of 100 dollar bills?

In 2007, Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge was fined $30,000 by the NBA for "excessive contact with the family" after sitting with Kevin Durant's mother during the Big 12 tournament. What does that make Jay-Z guilty of here? Excessive dapping? 

Photo of Jay-Z in the Kentucky locker room via YFrog .
Posted on: March 17, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 5:59 pm

NBA prospect Brandon Knight hits game-winner

Video of 2011 NBA draft prospect Brandon Knight hitting a game-winning layup for the University of Kentucky over Princeton University. Posted by Ben Golliver.

The 2011 NCAA tournament is off to a bang, with a number of Thursday's early games going all the way down to the wire. The University of Kentucky Wildcats -- the No. 1 NBA draft prospect factory going these days -- were involved in a hard-fought tussle with Princeton Tigers. 

With the game tied 57-57 with 30 seconds left, Kentucky ran the clock down, holding for a final shot. Coach John Calipari decided to put the game in the hands of freshman point guard Brandon Knight, who had been 0-7 from the field up to that point in the game. 

Knight used a Darius Miller screen to attempt to free himself off of the dribble. Princeton forward Kareem Maddox switched on to Knight, who used a number of dribble fakes to get by Maddox going to the right. However, Knight wasn't able to turn the corner and, with the clock winding down, he lofted up a right-handed runner over Maddox's out-stretched arms. The shot kissed in perfectly off the glass, giving Kentucky its winning 59-57 margin.

Here's a look at Knight's game-winning layup courtesy of NCAA.com.

Knight, 6'3" and 185, is an athletic, quick point guard known for his ability to score, break his man down off the dribble and elevate. Hailing from Florida, he is ranked as the No. 16 prospect on DraftExpress.com's current mock draft

Knight finished with two points and five assists in 38 minutes. His teammate and fellow first-round draft prospect, freshman forward Terrence Jones, finished with 10 points and two rebounds in 26 minutes. 

Knight, Jones and company, the East region's No. 5 seed, advance to play the No. 4 seeded University of West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday. The Mountaineers defeated the Clemson Tigers 84-76 on Thursday.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:34 pm

Thursday's NCAA Tournament top draft prospects

A look at the NBA draft prospects playing Thursday in the NCAA tournament. 
Posted by Matt Moore

March Madness. One of the greatest sporting events of the year, where emotions run high and so do the office pools. But the tournament also serves as a reminder to us pro-ball types that the draft isn't that far away, and gives us the best opportunity to see the prospects in a high-profile scenario, under the brightest lights. It's also the first time a lot of NBA fans will pay attention to these players, period. So with that, here's a guide to the players to watch out for in Thursday's first-round games.*

*Sorry, not going to treat the play-ins like a round. They're their own thing, like Neopolitan ice cream.

The "Big name on the marquee" Guy: Kemba Walker, G, UConn
Walker is that guy who all your friends will ask you about in terms of the NBA. "That guy can just play" will be a common phrase. What they really mean is "That guy can really score in college," which is not the same thing at all. This isn't to say that Walker hasn't been phenomenal dropping huge scoring numbers all season and especially in the Big 10 tournament. The questions will be about Walker's ability to translate into an NBA guard at his size. Walker's 6-1 officially (beware the "official" numbers), and that kind of size causes problems for 2-guards (ask O.J. Mayo). Walker's most readily compared to Rondey Stuckey and Jonny Flynn, but defensively, O.J. Mayo may be comparable. Mayo's a shooting gaurd who gets overwhelmed by the size of NBA 2s. Offensively, though, the Flynn-Stuckey comparisons are sound, but have their issues as well. From SBNation's Mike Prada: 
The issue with Walker, though, is something that we've touched on before on this site. Walker, at this point, is essentially a six-foot shooting guard. The comparisons to former Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn, who rode a similar surge in the Big East Tournament two years ago into an ill-fated high lottery selection, are obvious. They are different players, but those differences don't exactly clear up the Kemba puzzle. Walker carries a much more significant load for his team than Flynn does, but he also scored less efficiently and dished out far fewer assists, as we noted. Walker all commits far fewer turnovers, which is a feather in his cap, but also a byproduct, in a way, of his increased usage i.e. he'll occasionally shoot a bad shot instead of committing a turnover, which is better, but not by much.
via Kemba Walker Is A Household Name Before 2011 NCAA Tournament, But Is He An NBA Player? - SBNation.com.

Interestingly, on offense, Walker has the great numbers you'd expect, but Synergy Sports reveals a few interesting facets. For starters, UConn runs a lot of pick and roll with Walker, his second highest play count. He's great at drawing fouls in that set, but that can partially be attributed to the kind of pick and roll defense in college. He shoots just 36% in that set, which is pretty good, but not nearly the 42% he runs off-screen or the 52% off the cut. In short, Walker's a better shooter in catch-and-shoot situations than he is with the ball in his hands (39%). (All numbers courtesty of Synergy Sports.)  
All this won't keep Walker from going top-10, however, since as your friend says, "Man, that guy can (score)." 

Expected Selection: DX: 8 NBADraft.net: 22

Plays: vs. Bucknell, 7:20 p.m. (TNT)

The "Did that guy break the rim? Because I think that guy broke the rim" Guy: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky

Jones is your prototypical hyper-athletic big who throws down the occasional dunk to make you fear him the way primitive homo sapiens feared lightning. He's also your prototypical tweener who thinks he has a better mid-range than he does. As Tom Ziller at SBNation notes: 
He creates his own shot well; according to Kenpom.com, Jones takes 28 percent of Kentucky's shots when on the court, more than even trigger-happy guard Brandon Knight. Jones is OK at getting to the line -- he won't be a Carmelo Anthony/LeBron Jamesstyle foul-drawer, certainly, but he'll get to the stripe -- and a rather inefficient scorer in total. It's hard to see how Jones could ever become a really efficient scorer at the NBA level -- you can see it in Barnes and Williams, but not Jones. His three-point shot is suspect (though he started the year very well) and despite being Kentucky's best paint option, he relies on his mid-range jumper quite a bit. If that continues, it'll depress his field goal percentage and free throw rate, hurting his value.
via Terrence Jones Looks To Squelch Concerns In 2011 NCAA Tournament - SBNation.com.

Jones has a .64 points per possession mark in the post, and shoots 33% there. That's really, really bad, even among college players who lack footwork, coordination, touch, and a basic understanding of the properties of space.  Jones could really use a better distributing point guard to create opportunities for him, but that's not really Brandon Knight's bag. Jones' defense could be what really helps his stock in the tournament, though. Jones is an elite defender in the post this year, allowing just 32% shooting and fouling just 11% of the time. That's big time stuff. 

In the pros, however, he may be undersized, which means those shooting numbers have to go up, and his ability to defend ISO has to improve. Jones is in the exciting but dangerous area, where if things go right he's a big that can do multiple things, and if they go wrong, he's a wing who can't play in space. 

Expected Selection: DX: 9 NBADraft.net: 11

Plays: vs. Princeton 2:45 p.m. EST (CBS)

The "Gosh, the other Calipari guards were so good" Guy. Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

Here's the deal with Knight. Your standard point guards that come out of the Calipari's system are athletic wonders who have tremendous speed and vision but can't shoot worth a lick. Brandon Knight is an athletic talent with underwhelming vision who's shooting 44% from the field and 39% from 3-point range this season. That ain't bad. According to Synergy Sports, Knight shot 49% in ISO, 40% in spot-up, and drew shooting fouls 12% of the time in transition. 

So for teams looking at him, if they want someone with upside, Knight may not be the guy. Averaging 4 assists per game, he's more of a scoring point guard. But for teams that want someone who can come in and produce points immediately, he's a good fit. In a system where the point guard isn't the primary playmaker, Knight could be a great fit. And his athleticism is such to see some considerable upside in terms of attack. It's the assist-turnover ratio you have to worry about. If Knight isn't drafted into the right situation, he could struggle. 

Expected Selection: DX: 16 NBADraft.net: 13

The "Jimmer" Guy: Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

22-years old. Beware the 22-year-old senior. Guys with limited improvement potential are scary for first-round picks. But, I mean, it's Jimmer. I don't have to explain to you who Jimmer is. But I'll throw some numbers out for you. If you throw the ball to Jimmer spot-up? He hits it more than he misses. No matter where. He shoots 55% in spot-up situations. Creating a shot off the dribble, he shoots 39% in ISO situations, despite having to do so 27% of the time he's on the floor and being the primary offensive weapon for BYU with no one close as a second option in terms of effectiveness. He's a monster shooter, there's no other way to put it. 

Defensively, that's the rub. Fredette's limited in size, athleticism, speed, savvy, and ability. There's little options for his improvement, and if he can't, he's looking at being too much of a liability at the NBA level to justify keeping him on the floor as a shooter. From DX's profile: 
The biggest concern about Fredette's transition to the NBA clearly lies on the defensive end. He is a poor defender, even at the college level, showing average length, heavy feet and unimpressive lateral quickness. He rarely gets into an actual defensive stance, fails to get a hand up on shooters and shows little interest in trying to fight through screens. The same laid-back approach that makes him so difficult to get off-kilter offensively is a serious detriment to his work on the other end, potentially making him a liability in the NBA. With all this in mind, one of the biggest factors in determining the type of success Fredette will have in the NBA is the team he ends up on. In a fast-paced offense predicated on getting shots early in the shot-clock and a coach willing to live with defensive lapses, Fredette will be an incredible weapon. Put him in the wrong system, though, with a team that likes to grind it out and a coach who demands perfection on every defensive possession and we could be looking at a disaster.
via DraftExpress NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Jimmer Fredette, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook.

The best option for him? Model himself after Duke legend J.J. Redick. Redick suffered for two years trying to get any level of appreciation from Stan Van Gundy. Van Gundy told him to improve on defense, so Redick committed himself 100% while retaining his natural shooting ability and adding muscle. As a result, Redick is a terrific perimeter defender, the best defender of Ray Allen I've seen in the league. He works constantly, and without complaint, and can also Heat up from the perimeter. Fredette can gain a lot by looking to Redick as a model, even if he's not as athletically gifted as Redick. 
Expected Selection: DX: 17 NBADraft.net: 10
Plays: vs. Wofford, 7 p.m. EST (CBS)
Posted on: December 8, 2010 1:17 pm

Among other things, players want age limit at 18

Posted by Royce Young

Other than LeBron James and his Heat buddies, the biggest story of this NBA season starts with an "L" and ends with an "out". It's kind of hanging over everything. Just when we all start having fun and forget about a potential work stoppage, it rears its ugly head again. Bummer.

The basics around where the league and the players are hung up is over the salary cap situation, player salaries and revenue sharing. You know, the usual stuff.

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com dropped a bomb's worth of knowledge Wednesday updating the current situation. Included in all of that information was a small nugget about other things the players are asking for in addition to all the salary and money stuff.

They want the NBA's age-limit requirement returned to 18.

Berger says the players suggested a few non-cap related things that would "improve the game" and "benefit both our players and the league." One of those is a re-examination of the age-limit rule that currently requires players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from their senior year of high school before they're allowed to enter the draft.

(Along with the age rule, the NBAPA is also adding this Berger says, which I found incredibly interesting: They want to enhance pension benefits for retired players, which would be paid for, in part, by a so-called exit tax on owners who sell their teams and earn capital appreciation far beyond historic levels. So when an owner that bought his team in 1973 for $19.7 million sells it for $400 million, the players want a tax on that money that would pay a pension for retired players. Anyway, just wanted to point that one out too.)

While the players want the rule back at 18 years old, they also threw in that they want to work with the league and NCAA to incentivize players to stay in school longer. I think we all rolled our eyes there together, didn't we? Stay in school kids! Money's not important! Ignore the fact we're willing to go to a lockout over it!

The age rule probably isn't as important to the players as the money related issues, but the fact it's included in their recent proposal is interesting. Feelings on the current rule is sort of split. Most think it's an NCAA rule, but it's not. It's an NBA one. While it helps college basketball in some ways by bringing star power like John Wall, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden to college, it also hurts because everyone knows they're one-and-done. Bobby Knight was one of the biggest detractors about the rule talking about how nobody has to go to class the second semester and that is creates an unfair advanatge to the big name schools and recruiters. And it's easy to see that point.

The idea behind the original creation of the requirement was to help prevent the massive busts that were coming straight from high school, thus ruining potentially solid careers. Kids that has dollar signs in their eyes and skipped a college scholarship because an agent told them they'd make millions in the NBA as a first-round draft pick. But for every DeShawn Stevenson, Jonathan Bender and Kwame Brown, there's a Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard. It's always worked both ways.

And it's not some guarantee that if you go to school you won't bust. Ed O'Bannon, Robert Traylor, Stromile Swift, Marcus Fizer... lots of names there too. I guess they got an education or at least a few college credit hours out of it, but the rule doesn't guarantee anything.

Players want to be able to make money. And the fact that the NBA is preventing an 18-year-old from having the opportunity to have a job in the NBA obviously bothers the NBAPA.

It's a small issue and probably not one they're worth fighting that much for. But it's in the current proposal. The fact it's on their mind is interesting nonetheless.

But what's so ironic is that a lockout could greatly affect players like Terrence Jones from Kentucky, Harrison Barnes from North Carolina, Jared Sullinger from Ohio State and Kyrie Irving from Duke. Guys that would likely be one-and-done and headed for next June's draft. Except a lockout may make them think twice about it. They may either return to school and let the CBA stuff get settled or head to Europe for a season, especially the ones that have been tanking in their academics because they never thought they'd come back for a sophomore season. 

But remember, the NBAPA wants to educate and encourage players to stay in school. And they may be doing exactly that, only by accident.
Posted on: November 26, 2010 2:21 pm

Hunter's statements ring in Freshmen ears

NBA labor dispute could have impacts not only on NBA players but freshmen headed for one-and-done status.
Posted by Matt Moore

Kyrie Irving was busy tearing up teams on Duke's way to dominating the CBE Classic in Kansas City. Terrence Jones was making a name for himself in Maui. Josh Selby was continuing his ineligibility thanks to Team Melo. Harrison Barnes was struggling to find himself, and Enes Kanter, well, he wasn't doing anything much at all.

The country's best freshmen draft prospects were a little distracted last week when NBA Union head Billy Hunter said he was 99% sure there would be a lockout next season . But don't think the comments didn't trickle their way into the youngsters' ears at some point later, along with Ken Berger's report of hope emerging in the talks just as Hunter talks doom and gloom.

You're going to hear a lot from these kids as the year goes on about how they're not paying attention to the CBA talks. You're going to hear about how they are just focused on their team and trying to win now, for their teammates. And everything you hear is ignoring the reality which is that the current tensions between the owners group and the union has to have these standout freshmen concerned.

The freshmen have a bigger decision because "one-and-done" players are usually the most talented and have the best chance of getting drafted as high as possible. There are certainly exceptions (Evan Turner and Blake Griffin are two that spring immediately to mind). But "one-and-done" has come to mean high profile draft pick in recent years and next year's projected draft class is chock full of them. Five of the top six players projected in the 2011 class by Draft Express are freshmen (though it's hard to argue Enes Kanter is a freshman anywhere at this point).

A lockout means leaving college puts them in a precarious position financially should they elect to jump to the draft this summer. Staying in college increases the odds of injury, their stock dropping, or other forces beyond their control impacting the number of millions they're able to collect when they decide to become a professional.

So it's kind of a big decision.

The question is if the concerns surrounding a lockout for the freshmen will be enough to keep them at their schools next year. If they do talk kids off the professional highwire ledge, it could have huge impacts on next year's college basketball season. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com isn't convinced the lockout concerns will freeze the freshmen, because they'll have other options to make some dough before their contract dough gets sorted out. But if they do, it'll make for a stellar college basketball season in 2011-2012. As Parrish told F&R:

"I'm not certain a lockout would force everybody back to college the way some suspect because the elite guys, at the very least, will still have options. A freshman coming off a great season and deep run in the NCAA tournament -- Jared Sullinger? Kyrie Irving? Terrence Jones? -- might be high-profile enough at that point to secure endorsements that can't be turned away, or maybe a European club offers big money to bring a 'name' over. Beyond that, academics could always force the hand of a few who never intended to be in school more than a year. So we shall see. But if a lockout comes and guys subsequently decide it's to their benefit to just remain in college, wow, we could be in for a great 2011-12 season of college hoops.

Imagine Kentucky adding Mike Gilchrist, Anthony Jones and Marquise Teague to Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb. Or Duke operating with Kyrie Irving, Quinn Cook and Austin Rivers. Or Baylor putting Quincy Miller beside Perry Jones. Or Texas with Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and Myck Kabongo? Or Memphis returning every relevant player from a team currently ranked 14th, and then tossing Adonis Thomas into the mix.

Again, I'm not sure a lockout will create all or even any of this because returning to school wouldn't be the lone option for the current crop of freshmen, especially the ones who spend March turning into household names. But are the possibilities fun to consider? Yes, absolutely."

The union naturally isn't concerned with players who aren't in the league, beyond some preliminary talks about eliminating the age restriction. They've got bigger concerns for established veterans and trying to fend off the losses in revenue share being discussed. (Read more about how the union is softening on that stance in Ken Berger's column here.) But this situation goes to show how massive this lockout situation is. It will hold an impact on the NBA which is enjoyed success it hasn't seen since Jordan retired (the second time), players, owners, agents, and even those youngsters making a name for themselves in front of the student bodies.

It's just another example of a world that could be dramatically altered not by play on the hardwood, but by talks held in boardrooms over the next ten months.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com