When the National Basketball Association changed the age eligibility rules for the NBA Draft in 2006, requiring all eligible players to be at least one year removed from the completion of high school, they had to have foreseen the effect it would have on colleges and universities. As evidenced by the top ranked players on the 2010 draft boards, forcing players to go to college for one season doesn’t change how these kids are viewed in the eyes of scouts, but rather it just delays the inevitable in regards to them starting their professional careers.
Of the consensus top five players available in this year’s draft, three are freshmen, one is a sophomore, and the one is a junior. Despite their youth however, they represent a fairly elite group of athletes and should be the first five out when the lottery picks start rolling off on June 24, 2010.
John Wall – Point Guard – University of Kentucky (Fr.)
2009-10 Stats: 16.6 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG
Considering Wall’s poise, his abilities to score and create scoring opportunities for others, as well as his maturity in the clutch, it’s easy to see why Wall is so highly regarded. It is likely that he would have been an early lottery pick even if he had moved straight to the NBA. He’s quick around the ball both offensively and defensively, and is a proven leader on the floor. His lineage under John Calipari isn’t the only thing he shares in common with Derrick Rose.
Evan Turner – Shooting Guard – Ohio State University (Jr.)
2009-10 Stats: 20.4 PPG, 6.0 APG, 9.2 RPG
The 2009-10 College Player of the Year, Turner is a coach’s dream, who is more of a swing man at 6’7″ that he is a small forward. Knows how to create his own scoring opportunities and is a superb rebounder who improved steadily over the three seasons he spent at Ohio State. Turner would be a better fit in New Jersey than Wall would, especially with the presence of Devin Harris, but it would be hard to see him falling out of the top three.
Derrick Favors – Power Forward – Georgia Tech (Fr.)
2009-10 Stats: 12.4 PPG, 2.1 BPG, 8.4 RPG
Favors has the size and physical skills that coaches dream about out of their power forwards. He’s strong, athletic, and works well around the basket, especially on the defensive side of the court. Favors could have used a second year of seasoning at the college level in order to better develop his offensive capabilities, especially in regards to creating his own shots, but he opted out after one year and could land in either Sacramento or Golden State.
Demarcus Cousins – Center – University of Kentucky (Fr.)
2009-10 Stats: 15.1 PPG, 1.8 BPG, 9.8 RPG
At 6’11” and 260 pounds, there might not be a truer center in this year’s draft class. Cousins works well in the paint and outside of it, and knows how to position himself for rebounds. Cousins bears a lot of similarities to a young Patrick Ewing, but will need to work on keeping himself in shape and out of trouble off the court if he wants to have the career of the Knicks star. His off-court issues could become a deciding factor on whether he goes fourth in the draft or as late as eighth.
Al-Farouq Aminu – Small Forward – Wake Forest University (So.)
2009-10 Stats: 15.8 PPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.4 SPG, 10.7 RPG
Aminu rebounds like a big man, but has the size and quickness of a small forward, which will give opponents trouble in defensive match-ups. The Wake Forest star is also one of the harder workers on the defensive side of the ball, using his size and quickness as an advantage against smaller and bigger players alike. Aminu tends to be a little sloppy on the dribble, which will be worked on at the next level, but his upside will make detractors take their chances as early as the fifth pick in the draft, meaning he’d be a great pick-up for the Washington Wizards after the Arenas debacle.
NBA Draft, Wikipedia.com
John Wall, ESPN.com
Evan Turner, ESPN.com
Derrick Favors, ESPN.com
Demarcus Cousins, ESPN.com
Al-Farouq Aminu, ESPN.com