RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Meyers Leonard

Posted by EJacoby on June 22nd, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Meyers Leonard

School: Illinois

Height/Weight: 7’1” / 250 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery Pick

Meyers Leonard (left) is a massive, strong center that loves to battle down low (Chicago Tribune photo)

Overview: Meyers Leonard get virtually no time as a freshman for the Illini (8.2 MPG), but he showed intriguing physical tools that started to develop the followin summer at the U-19 Championships before a breakout sophomore year for Illinois in 2011-12. Leonard is simply massive, standing nearly 7’2” in shoes with a 7’3” wingspan and cut body that put up the second-most reps on the bench press at Chicago’s Draft Combine. He became much more productive on the floor in year two for Illinois, averaging 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks while shooting 58.4% from the field – the latter three numbers good for third, first, and third in the Big Ten, respectively. He shows terrific athleticism for his size, dispelling the belief that he turn out to be a stiff. Instead, Leonard actually uses his body well – especially on defense where he was able to alter many shots with his length in addition to swatting nearly two per game. He displays good maturity and basketball IQ as witnessed by numerous great interviews, and he has much room to develop as a player. The concerns are that Leonard just doesn’t do anything smoothly on offense, struggling to score easy baskets in one-on-one situations, and he isn’t confident enough in his abilities at this stage. He shoots it well from the outside and the line (73.2%), so he should start to develop more confidence in his offensive game in due time. At this point, Leonard is a project but one with big-time upside as there are few bigs in the league with his combo of size, smarts, and athleticism. He continues to rise on draft boards.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Perry Jones III

Posted by dnspewak on June 20th, 2012

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards, so for the next week or two we’ll present you with players who are projected near the end of the first round, and we’ll work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Perry Jones III

School: Baylor

Height/Weight: 6’11”, 235 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Perry Jones: Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle (AP)

 

Overview: There has been no greater enigma in college basketball than Perry Jones III during the past two seasons. When he first arrived at Baylor, it seemed implausible he would stay for more than just one year. By all accounts, he was supposed to be the next Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley in the Big 12, a guy who lights up the league for five months and then bolts for the pros. That type of stardom never materialized for him as a freshman, though, and Jones returned to Waco and played frustratingly modest for a second straight season in 2011-12. Once considered an obvious top five NBA Draft selection, scouts continued to criticized Jones for not asserting himself physically and not playing “big” enough. He shined at times during the 2011-12 season, but he also faltered in match-ups against Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliffe and other elite big men like Kevin Jones (West Virginia) and Arnett Moultrie (Missisippi State). It was a tale of inconsistency all season long. He lit up for Kentucky for 17 points in the Elite Eight but scored only two against South Dakota State in the second round; he embarrassed Kansas State with 31 points in the Big 12 quarterfinals but fouled out with four points in 22 minutes against the Wildcats in February. Overall, Jones had a successful season and two-year college career, but outside expectations are insanely high for this young man. So much that it may have been impossible for Jones to ever reach his full “potential” in college.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kendall Marshall

Posted by EJacoby on June 19th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Kendall Marshall

School: North Carolina

Height/Weight: 6’4” / 195 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery / Mid-First Round

Kendall Marshall was the best passer in college basketball (Getty Images/K. Cox)

Overview: Kendall Marshall was the best passer in college basketball by a wide margin during his two seasons at North Carolina; only Iona’s Scott Machado came close to Marshall as a distributor. Marshall has elite floor awareness as well as a special ability to read defenses, and his pass-first mentality led to tremendous assist numbers playing alongside several great players at UNC. His 9.8 assists per game, 44.5% assist percentage, and 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore all ranked second in the country. He led the Tar Heels to a #1 NCAA Tournament seed and was the team’s most indispensable player. After he broke his wrist late in a round of 32 win against Creighton, the Marshall-less Heels barely hung on to beat #13-seed Ohio in overtime in the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Kansas in the Elite Eight. Some people view Marshall as a ‘one-trick pony’ because he doesn’t do much else well besides passing the ball (8.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG). He also lacks the explosiveness that most NBA point guards have these days, and he really struggles defensively with limited lateral quickness. But his athletic demise seems exaggerated, as Marshall has great size (6’4”) and a strong body for a point guard and actually displayed some interesting driving and finishing ability at the rim. He wasn’t asked to create his own offense at UNC and didn’t look comfortable when he did so; he didn’t shoot the ball with confidence and simply preferred to pass to teammates in all situations. But he came on strong at the end of the season and showed some scoring prowess, plus he had decent season-long shooting numbers (46.7% from the field, 35.4% from three, 69.6% from the line). There’s untapped scoring potential in Marshall if he works hard in that area.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Dion Waiters

Posted by EJacoby on June 19th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Dion Waiters

School: Syracuse

Height/Weight: 6’4” / 215 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Dion Waiters Shows No Fear on the Floor, Which Should Help Him in the NBA (AP Photo/K. Rivoli)

Overview: Dion Waiters’ disappointing first year at Syracuse included a falling out with Jim Boeheim and contemplations about whether to leave the program. But the former top 20 recruit came back a completely different player in year two, where he was arguably the best and most impactful player on an elite Syracuse team. Waiters didn’t start a single game as a sophomore but was a game-changing reserve who could score points in bunches (12.6 PPG) and cause havoc with his perimeter defense (1.8 SPG). A player whom Boeheim said after his first year “played no defense last year – none” turned into the leading catalyst of the nation’s top team in steals. Waiters is a bully at 6’4” and 215 pounds who overpowered weaker defenders on his drives to the basket, leading to an impressive highlight reel of explosive dunks. His physicality also allows him to create space on the perimeter to get his shot off, where he shot 36.3% from three-point range. Waiters is extremely efficient in transition, and he is difficult to stop once he gains steam towards the basket. He also thrived in the pick-and-roll as a threat to shoot, drive, or create for his teammates. His shot selection was questionable at times, but he still recorded a strong 47.6% field-goal percentage, and he turned the ball over just 1.3 times per game in 24 minutes. Despite his strength, Waiters is a bit undersized for a two-guard and he’ll be facing much stronger and athletic players at his position at the next level.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Austin Rivers

Posted by EJacoby on June 18th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Austin Rivers

School: Duke

Height/Weight: 6’5” / 200 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery Pick

Rivers can get by nearly any defender with his driving ability (AP Images)

Overview: Austin Rivers came into college as perhaps the most hyped freshman in the country; the consensus #2 recruit behind Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. The son of Boston Celtics head coach and former longtime NBA point guard Doc Rivers, Austin has been in the spotlight for many years now. His one-year “career” at Duke produced mixed results, as he was a very effective offensive player from day one but also struggled to play within the team concept. Without Rivers, Duke would never have come close to receiving a #2 NCAA Tournament seed. But with him, the Blue Devils couldn’t even defeat Lehigh in the first round. Rivers hurt the team as much as he helped it during certain stretches of games. But overall, there’s no denying his explosive scoring ability. He averaged 15.5 PPG as a consistent producer, reaching double figures in 30 of his 34 games and was capable of going for 20-plus in any game. He put up 29 points on the road at North Carolina, including the game-winning buzzer beater that was one of 2011-12’s greatest moments. That’s the kind of player Rivers is; he has the utmost confidence in his ability and wants to take all the big shots. He has a killer crossover and lightning-quick first step as well as unlimited range on his jumper. But he was not a very efficient player as a frosh – shooting percentages of 43.3% (FG), 36.5% (3FG), and 65.8% (FT) all need improvement. The former two numbers show evidence of his questionable shot selection, and the third was unfortunately low for a player that got to the line with regularity. He averaged more turnovers (2.3) per game than assists (2.1) and doesn’t look like he can play NBA point guard. Rivers remains an elite scoring prospect as an undersized two, but needs work on his decision-making and defensive work ethic.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Moe Harkless

Posted by EJacoby on June 18th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Moe Harkless

School: St. John’s

Height/Weight: 6’8” / 210 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Moe Harkless is a smooth attacker of the basket (AP Photo)

Overview: Moe Harkless didn’t come into St. John’s as a one-and-done kind of prospect, but the smooth small forward dazzled scouts with his play against Big East competition for a depleted team in a tumultuous situation. Harkless averaged 36.1 minutes per game as an 18-year-old freshman, compiling 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks per contest on 45.2% shooting from the field. He’s not an explosive leaper but rather a smooth, lengthy forward with a high basketball IQ and above-average athleticism. To quote ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, he “has a small forward’s body but a power forward’s game,” as he struggles to create shots for himself on the perimeter but has terrific footwork in the post and is a great finisher at the rim. He lacks strength but just turned 19 years old and is sure to develop his wiry frame in coming years. He performed well in the Combine interviews, matching the smarts he shows on the floor by moving well without the ball in space and putting himself in ideal situations to score. His length and instincts helped him excel as a defender in the Red Storm zone defense, putting up terrific steal and block averages. He needs to get stronger and “meaner” in the post to defend NBA players one-on-one, but he has great size (6’8”) for a small forward. Harkless was a fun player to watch grow as a freshman last season, and he seems to have left a great impression on all new evaluators.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Marquis Teague

Posted by EJacoby on June 15th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Marquis Teague

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’2” / 180 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid- to Late First Round

Marquis Teague excels at getting to the rim with his elite speed (AP Photo/J. Crisp)

Overview: Marquis Teague struggled with his decision-making for some of his freshman season, but he came on strong during the latter stage of the year to lead Kentucky to a National Championship as the team’s steady point guard. His greatest attribute is his blazing speed with the ball and an overall impressive set of physical tools for a point guard. The Wildcats really had no backup at the point, so Teague led UK in minutes played (32.6 MPG) while admirably handling the many responsibilities given to him on a team with several stars. Though turnovers were his biggest issue (2.7 TO per game), he also averaged 4.8 APG and made obvious improvements throughout the season in terms of his decisions. He had five or more turnovers in five of his first 25 games, but not once in any of his final (and more important) 15. Teague was really the Wildcats’ fifth offensive option on the floor, though he still contributed a solid 10.0 PPG through an array of drives and jumpers. He thrives in the open floor and also does well in isolation situations, which he displayed in the National Title game against Kansas by getting to the basket for several layups in the half court. His shot is a work in progress, proven by his shooting percentages — 41.2% from the field, 32.5% from three, and 71.4% from the line. He wasn’t a game-changing defender as a rookie and only averaged 0.9 steals, but his physical traits suggest he should become a solid perimeter defender. Though very raw in many aspects, Teague appears to be in a dead heat with Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten as the second point guard to come off the board on draft night.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tyler Zeller

Posted by EJacoby on June 14th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Tyler Zeller

School: North Carolina

Height/Weight: 7’0”/ 250 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery / Mid-First Round

Zeller runs the floor well for a seven-footer (AP Photo/G. Broome)

Overview: Tyler Zeller is the increasingly rare example of a four-year senior who could end up as a lottery pick after graduation. After struggling with injuries during his first two seasons, Zeller blossomed into a true college star. A legitimate seven-footer with great mobility, Zeller was incredibly productive in his final two years as a Tar Heel, most recently becoming the ACC Player of the Year as a senior. He improved slightly across the board in all areas from his junior to senior year, showing more facets to his game. He ended the 2011-12 season with averages of 16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game on 55% shooting from the field and 81% free-throw shooting, all very good numbers on a team with plenty of other stars. He was UNC’s most consistent contributor and go-to offensive option, perhaps sharing the latter with Harrison Barnes on the perimeter. But Zeller was often more effective than Barnes with his touches, and the team was most dominant when he was featured. Zeller shows great agility for his size and was the perfect center for the Tar Heels’ up-tempo offense, especially in transition. He’s not an explosive athlete or shot-blocker, and he doesn’t appear to do anything exceptionally well. But he has all the tools that a center needs, and his ability to contribute across the board makes him an intriguing prospect with the potential to be an instant impact player in the NBA.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: John Jenkins

Posted by EJacoby on June 13th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: John Jenkins

School: Vanderbilt

Height/Weight: 6’4” / 215 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Jenkins was the best shooter in college basketball as a Commodore (Getty Images/J. Robbins)

Overview: From the moment he stepped on the floor as a freshman, John Jenkins was one of the best shooters in college basketball, particularly from beyond the arc. He shot an outstanding 43.7% from three-point range during his three-year career at Vanderbilt. Jenkins led the nation with 134 three-point makes last season as a junior, hitting at a 43.9% clip (second in the SEC). He was also an 85.5% free-throw shooter throughout his three seasons, and his 65.5% true shooting percentage as a junior was off the charts for someone competing in a top conference. He led the SEC in scoring the past two seasons with a similar average around 19.7 PPG. In fact, his sophomore and junior year averages are nearly identical across the board – something that starts to play into his limited impact in other areas. Jenkins has not shown much improvement in other aspects of his game besides shooting and working off the ball for looks. He doesn’t show much of an ability to create for others off the drive or pass (1.1 assists per game for his career), he doesn’t hit the glass often (2.7 career RPG), and he doesn’t create many steals or block shots (0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG). Lacking the size, quickness, and athleticism of an ideal shooting guard, Jenkins projects to be more of a specialist in the league rather than a starting two. But he knows where his bread is buttered and has mastered an important NBA skill, in the process showing disciplined fundamentals in other areas of the game to the point where he doesn’t hurt the team, such as averaging just 1.6 turnovers per game.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Quincy Miller

Posted by EJacoby on June 12th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Quincy Miller

School: Baylor

Height/Weight: 6’9” / 210 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round

Quincy Miller Has Tremendous Upside if he Can Improve in the NBA (Getty Images/S. Lecka)

Overview: Drawing widespread comparisons to Kevin Durant in high school, Quincy Miller tore his ACL during his senior year that left him sidelined for several months and seemed to hamper him throughout his only season at Baylor. The long, athletic, versatile scoring forward flashed many moments of brilliance as a Bear but also appeared limited at times by his knee, role, and inexperience. As a result, Miller’s impact on the team dropped off as the season went along. He scored in double figures in 11 of his first 18 games, but only in just seven of his final 19 games as a frosh. His overall averages of 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks in 24.4 minutes per game failed to meet the lofty expectations placed upon him. That’s why it was quite a surprise when Miller declared for the NBA Draft just days before the league deadline. Had he returned to school, Miller would have been the first option on a good team, capable of proving he’s a star player and potential Top 10 NBA talent. Instead, Miller enters the stacked draft with questions about his knee, his motor, and his ability to take over games. Still just 19 years old, though, with big-time upside, Miller could find his way into the late lottery for the right team. He has the potential to become a massive steal if he falls far in the first round, but he’ll need to stay healthy and play with confidence against the best players in the world as he develops in the pros.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Damian Lillard

Posted by AMurawa on June 11th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Damian Lillard

School: Weber State

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 189 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid/Late Lottery

Damian Lillard Has Shot Up the Draft Boards

Overview: Despite averaging 28 points per game as a senior at Oakland High in California, Damian Lillard was unable to grab the attention of any major colleges while in high school. No offers from the then-Pac-10, nary a nibble from Mountain West schools, nothing. Well, their oversight turned out to be Weber State’s gain as Lillard showed up on campus in 2008-09 and was immediately one of the best players in the Big Sky, averaging 11.5 points per game along with nearly four boards and three assists as a freshman. Over the years, those numbers only climbed, even as the Wildcats’ reliance on him did too. By his junior season last year (following a medical redshirt in 2010-11), Lillard was second in the nation in scoring average (24.5 PPG), as well as the most efficient high-usage player in the nation. Still, despite a three-point percentage north of 40%, a spectacular 88.7% from the free throw line and turnovers on just 12.3% of all possessions, Lillard still has some skeptics, due to the fact that the level of competition he faced on a nightly basis was substandard compared to many major conference point guards. For every night where he scored 36 points on 11-of-18 shooting against a borderline Top 25 team like Saint Mary’s, he turned in a stinker like his 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting against California. However, in the NBA Draft Combine last week, Lillard looked impressive and drew rave reviews from NBA talent evaluators. Already considered a likely lottery pick and perhaps the best point guard in the draft, Lillard may see his stock continue to climb if he can hold his own in pre-draft workouts.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Fab Melo

Posted by EJacoby on June 7th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Fab Melo

School: Syracuse

Height/Weight: 7’0” / 255 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

After Being in Coach Boeheim's Doghouse For One Season, Fab Melo Improved Dramatically as a Sophomore (AP Photo)

Overview: After playing less than 10 minutes per game as a freshman and looking like a complete stiff, Fab Melo showed drastic improvements in his second season at Syracuse. He was one of the most indispensable parts of a 34-3 team, witnessed by the fact that the Orange lost two of their three games when Melo was not with the team. He is incredibly mobile for a seven-footer and possesses a 7’3” wingspan, making him an elite shot-blocker who dominated the paint in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a sophomore in just over 25 minutes per game, good for the best block percentage in the Big East. With improved mobility and conditioning, the big man became more of a factor offensively (7.8 PPG) on mainly lob passes and putbacks. Melo is still incredibly raw on offense in terms of one-on-one post moves, but his exponential improvement over the past year is a good sign that he can still add to his game. His impact on the game goes beyond the box score, as he alters opposing shots and game plans with his imposing defensive presence, and he also helps open up driving lanes for teammates by eating up space on the offensive end. Melo was academically ineligible twice during the 2011-12 season, including during the most crucial time of the season (the NCAA Tournament). There are still some concerns about his attitude, temperament, and ability to stay focused on basketball. But when he is locked in, Melo is a legitimate defensive force that still has much room for improvement.

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