So Shabazz Is Leaving, But Who Else?Posted by AMurawa on March 4th, 2013
Saturday night following UCLA’s win over Arizona, Ben Howland admitted that, yes, Shabazz Muhammad had, barring some strange unforeseen circumstances, played his last game at Pauley Pavilion, thus sharing a secret that everybody already knew. One of the nation’s top recruits, Muhammad will be a lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft and his time in Westwood will be limited to just this one season. It’s no surprise, and certainly not worth spilling many pixels on. But, it is a good jumping off point to look around the rest of the Pac-12 and project the collegiate futures of other talented underclassmen and ask a couple different questions: First, will they declare for the NBA Draft after this season and, more subjectively, should they? Certainly every player’s own personal situation will have a say in the decision, and far be it from me to tell kids what they should and should not do with their potentially multi-million dollar futures, but it is that time of year when we start thinking about what some of these teams are going to look like next season. So, here’s a look at the players around the conference most likely to be weighing their options when the season ends, with Draft Express’ opinion on where these guys would be slated to go.
- Allen Crabbe, Junior, California – Crabbe’s gone. The 6’6” wing has taken on a slightly bigger role each season in Berkeley and is one of the purest shooters in the draft. A solid defender as well, he’s got an NBA-ready game and could be a late first-round pick, although Draft Express currently projects him as the #11 pick in the second round. It is doubtful that another year in college would improve his draft stock substantially as Crabbe is mostly a completed player.
- Andre Roberson, Junior, Colorado – Odds are probably good that Roberson will leave after this season, but while he uses his long frame to great effect defensively and on the glass, he’s still a work in progress offensively. He’s a decent enough three-point shooter (35% for his career on limited attempts), but he is a poor free throw shooter, has a questionable handle, and has an unpolished offensive game anywhere inside of the three-point line. Draft Express has him as the seventh pick in the second round of this year’s draft, but I have a hard time projecting this guy’s game to the NBA when he sees players with more size and length and just as much athleticism competing with him for rebounds.
- Spencer Dinwiddie, Sophomore, Colorado – A 6’5″ combo guard, Dinwiddie has an NBA body, a great jump shot, and a great basketball IQ. He gets to the line on a regular basis, and is money there at 81.5% from the charity stripe over his career. In his second year in Boulder, he’s also greatly improved his ability to finish around the rim. Draft Express currently projects him as mid-second rounder in 2014, but this guy’s game is definitely on the upswing and I don’t think you could kill him if he decided to leave after this season. Still, this is probably a player who would be best served by another year running a ball club and developing his point guard skills.
- Jahii Carson, Freshman, Arizona State – He’s a 5’10″ point guard with an erratic jumpshot; there’s no way he’s leaving, right? You would hope that would be the case, but Carson’s main skills – his blazing speed, court vision and insane athleticism – are always going to be in high demand. You can bet he’ll think about making the jump, and he’s certainly just as apt to develop a jumper at the next level or in the D-League as he is at ASU. But rather than being a borderline first round guy (Draft Express projects him as the #25 pick in the 2014 draft), Carson with a reliable jumper – or even an improving jumper – could see his draft stock jump.
- Dewayne Dedmon, Junior, USC – Remember back when Kevin O’Neill suggested that this guy would be a future NBA lottery pick? Well, that may not happen, but anytime you’ve got an athletic seven-footer who runs the floor like a deer and hasn’t even begun to approach his ceiling, you’re going to have intrigued NBA scouts. Right now Draft Express calls Dedmon a late second round pick in this year’s draft. Returning for a senior season provides as much peril basketball-wise for Dedmon as it does opportunity. If he shows real growth with his offensive game (post moves, better finishing around the rim, improved understanding of the game), his draft stock could skyrocket. But, if he continues to flail around out there to little effect, it could cement the perception of him as a guy who will never reach his potential.
- Kyle Anderson, Freshman, UCLA – I’m as convinced as I’ve ever been that Anderson is going to be a special NBA player. A 6’9” guy with point guard skills, tremendous basketball IQ and a determination to do whatever it takes to help his team win (this is a player who has guarded centers and become his team’s best rebounder), Anderson is a unique talent. And he’s making the most of his time in Westwood, as he’s improved significantly since the start of the year. Still, one more year is hopefully in the cards for Anderson. With Larry Drew II graduating, he’ll get a chance to run the Bruins’ offense next season and he’ll get a full offseason to bulk up his body and ideally dial up his outside shooting numbers (20% from three this year). A top five recruit last year, I could see Anderson entering the draft, but Draft Express’ projection of a 2014 late-first-round pick could be improved upon with some work.
- Jordan Adams, Freshman, UCLA – Draft Express doesn’t have this guy listed on any future mock drafts, so hopefully the 6’5” gunner takes the clue and returns to Westwood. He could certainly stand to improve his game off the bounce, something that would make his shooting touch all the more deadly.
- C.J. Wilcox, Junior, Washington – The 6’5” wing is a nearly finished product as a scorer, with a tremendous three-point shot and the ability to work the mid-range game when run off of the three-point line. Draft Express projects him as a mid-second-round choice in this year’s draft and, given his issues with foot problems the past couple of years, maybe he wants to take a run at the money this season and eliminate the idea of suffering a serious injury while playing for just a scholarship.
- Brandon Ashley, Freshman, Arizona – All three Arizona freshman bigs (including 7’0” Kaleb Tarczewski and 6’10” Grant Jerrett) likely have NBA futures ahead of them, but none of the three are ready for the rigors of an NBA schedule just yet. While Tarczewski may be the best of the group right now with his strong low post game, Ashley may have the most upside. At 6’8”, he’s the smallest of the three, but his long arms and athleticism make him appear more like a guy closing in on seven feet. He’s the best rebounder of the bunch, has the type of skills that could turn him into a versatile offensive threat, and already does a good job of getting to the line and knocking down his free throws. Draft Express calls Ashley a mid-second-rounder in the 2014 draft and he, like his classmates, should re-up for another round in the desert. But with big guys with high ceilings, you never quite know.
- Dwight Powell, Junior, Stanford – Powell has really blossomed in his third year on the Farm. His mid-range jumper is much improved and he’s showing glimpses of being able to regularly extend it back behind the arc. He’s strong off the dribble and aggressive attacking the rim, and he’s slowly but surely turned into an excellent rebounder. The fact that he’s been able to add bits and pieces to his game every season have me convinced he’s going to be a long-time very good pro. I wouldn’t blame the guy if he left after this season (as he’ll perhaps have to adjust to a new head coach next season at Stanford), but Draft Express pegs him as a late first-rounder in 2014 and I’d sure like to see him stick around another year. If he can regularly extend that jumper out behind the three-point arc and maybe add some more consistent post moves, the skilled big could be a fringe lottery pick and a potential All-American type.
- Devon Collier, Junior, Oregon State – A skilled and athletic 6’8” guy who plays bigger than his size, Collier earned his way onto NBA scouts’ radar as a sophomore while leading the Pac-12 in field goal percentage and making a ton of plays defensively. With Eric Moreland’s surge in playing time this year, Collier has been squeezed out some by the similarly talented junior, but did manage to increase his rebounding percentages. Still, like Moreland, Collier should probably make plans to stick around in Corvallis, as Draft Express has him as a late second-rounder in next year’s draft. Both need a lot of work polishing up their respective offensive games (and continuing to add bulk to some relatively skinny frames) and could form the basis for a Beaver team that sees a significant increase in defensive efficiency next season. Oh, and Roberto Nelson – you don’t go getting any ideas either.