2013 Big Ten Prospect Preview

With ten total prospects ranked in the Top 75 of the NDI 2013 Big Board the Big Ten is well represented in terms of NBA Talent. The conference also has the potential No. 1 Overall pick in the draft and the No. 1 rated player overall according to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, NBA Draft.net, as well as here on NDI.

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The departing talent is going to take a toll on the conference as a whole, but the young, up-and-coming prospects are on the rise.

One good factor of the Big Ten is that they are not incorporating new teams like every other conference is doing as of late. On the court there will be some fantastic match-ups across the board in nearly all the in conference games.

Other Previews: PAC-12ACCBig EastBig 12SEC — Small School —

Big Board Rank in (Parenthesis) for the 2013 NBA Talent

Here is a list of all the transfers this summer

 

TOP 20 BIG TEN PROSPECTS

 

Illinois

2013 NBA Talent: Brandon Paul (NA) and Crandall Head (NA)

Key Losses: Meyers Leonard (NBA) and Sam Maniscalco

Incoming Talent: Rayvonte Rice (Transfer, Drake)

The early departure of Meyers Leonard will hurt the Illini overall, but they have the talent to stay competitive.

Nnanna Egwu (So. 6-11 245 lbs) played a very minor role with the team last year as a quality recruit and will be thrust into a larger one this year. He is a terrific athlete at the center position that can get up-and-down the floor with ease. His length and athleticism are what make him a very talented defender with the potential to be an elite shot-blocker.

On the perimeter the trio of experienced guards will likely get most of the offensive touches. D.J. Richardson (Sr. 6-3 195 lbs), Brandon Paul (Sr. 6-4 195 lbs), and Crandall Head (Jr. 6-3 186 lbs) all have quality games on the perimeter. Paul is the standout of the group in terms of NBA talent, but he has been an enigma over the years. He can flat out score the ball with good size, strength, athleticism, and a shooting ability that reaches the NBA three. He can be streaky as a shooter and a bit of a gunslinger, but when he gets hot he is unstoppable — ask Ohio State.

Paul is a streaky scorer that can be as ineffective as effective from game to game. No question Paul has the physical attributes to play at the next level, but his motor and consistency are not there.

For Richardson and Head it will be about getting more efficient as scorers as well. Richardson is undersized as a two with a better nose for the ball on the defensive end. Solid athletically, but inconsistent as a scorer and ball-handler, but he has a very quick first step that allows him to create turnovers and offense for himself.

As for Head, he is an athletic combo guard that can score attacking the rim or from the perimeter. He has nice upside as a better ball-handler and athlete than Richardson, but a little undersized for full-time duty as a two.

 

Indiana

2013 NBA Talent: Cody Zeller (1), Victor Oladipo (48), Christian Watford (69), and Maurice Creek (NA)

Key Losses: Verdell Jones

Incoming Talent: Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, and Hanner Mosquera-Perea

One of the most talented teams in the Nation welcome in three quality new talents led by point guard Yogi Ferrell (Fr. 5-11 160 lbs), accompanied by athletic all-around scorer Jeremy Hollowell (Fr. 6-7 190 lbs), and the amazingly athletic, but raw Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Fr. 6-8 210 lbs).

Ferrell is the key to the group. The diminuative lead guard is a pure point guard that has a knack for creating offense in the teeth of the defense for himself or his teammates. Ferrell has good quickness and speed that he uses to start the break speeding up the offense. As a shooter he can hit the mid-range consitently, but from three he is shakey at best. Still plays too fast at times and is turnover prone, but Ferrell is a solid point prospect on a deep team where he will have the opportunity to highlight his strengths.

On the perimeter he will have veterans in Maurice Creek (Jr. 6-5 200 lbs) and Victor Oladipo (Jr. 6-5 210 lbs) to rely on for balance. Creek tore his left Achillies tendon and was forced to sit out last year. In 30 games Creek knocked down 56 threes at 37.1% stretching the defense. He has good size as a two, but seemed to regress as a sophomore.

Oladipo did the exact opposite as he progressed his overall game a little each year with the Hoosiers. The hyper athletic wing is capable of defending all three perimeter positions with his length and quickness. He has a very high motor getting after every loose ball, rebound, and attacking relentlessly. Oladipo has risen up draft boards significantly due to his improved offensive game.

The only aspect of Oladipo’s game that took a hit last year was his shooting. He is not a great shooter by no means, but with more responsibility on offense and a more aggressive approach he took a hit in shooting percentages across the board.

Christian Watford (Sr. 6-9 230 lbs) is a combo forward that plays the four, but has a good set of perimeter skills to compliment that. He can stretch the defense out to the NBA three and last season he began to shoot it with consistency. With the ball in his hands Watford is a good offensive player. He can attack the defense off the dribble and score inside in large part due to his ability to shoot it from the mid-range and from NBA three. Watford is another tweener forward, but has the skill-set to make the transition to the perimeter full-time in the NBA, but lacks the traditional athleticism moving laterally.

After Watford the depth at the four will come from Will Sheehey (Jr. 6-6 200 lbs). He is not going to standout as a prospect at first glance, but Sheehey does a lot of the little things that make the stars around him stars. Sheehey is a tough, fearless defender that can defend the three and the four. While he does not shoot it with consistency he can hit the three and score around the rim. He is a good rebounder for his position and plays with a great motor to make up for his lack of traditional athleticism.

Then there is Cody Zeller (So. 6-11 220 lbs), the top prospect for the 2013 NBA Draft as the crown jewel for the Hoosiers. He is not only the best center prospect in the Nation, but also the best overall NBA prospect. What makes Zeller unique as a player is that he plays with energy and effort on both ends of the floor.

On the offensive end he scores efficiently despite being the teams’ primary scorer and main focal point of the opposition. He did not play anyone else’s game but his own which led him to shooting 62.3% from the field. Zeller has great footwork in the paint allowing him to score off either shoulder when he gets a defender on his back. With his elite size and mobility Zeller is able to out move, out work, and beat defenders to the spot he wants to be on offense. Even though he is not a great overall rebounder, Zeller is a terrific, instinctual offensive rebounder. The way he uses his length to tip balls to himself and in the basket reminding me in a way of how effective Tim Duncan gets rebounds despite positioning.

Defensively Zeller has good instincts as a shot-blocker. He is not an overwhelming athlete like others at his position, but has the timing as well as the instincts to protect the rim. On the defensive end Zeller is not an elite rebounder in part because he still lacks strength, but also because of his overall positioning.

Overall Zeller is either a more polished version of Brook Lopez as a scoring center or the next elite big man in the NBA.

 

Iowa

2013 NBA Talent: None

Key Losses: Matt Gatens

Incoming Talent: Jarrod Uthoff (Transfer, Wisconsin) and Adam Woodbury

The new bookends to the line-up are Adam Woodbury (Fr. 6-11 225 lbs) and Mike Gesell (Fr. 6-1 185 lbs) for the Hawkeyes.

Gesell is a big time shooter from three, but not a pure point guard as a scorer. He is tougher than he appears and can surprise with his athleticism above the rim when he gets space. As a defender he can get after the offense, but is not a good enough athlete to guard the two. His shooting makes him an interesting prospect if he can develop more intangibles of a traditional point. In high school he was more off the ball due to playing with Marcus Paige (North Carolina).

Woodbury could be a major prospect down the road at the center position. He can score the ball on the block as well as facilitate offense as a very good passer for his position. What hurts him is he can struggle to finish above the rim with his lack of athleticism a la Kevin Love and Glen Davis. He gets to the rim, but athletic defenders can easily erase his attempts. Woodbury plays with great energy and has the confidence to come in from day one and be the teams best player.

Josh Oglesby (So. 6-5 190 lbs) has great size at the two to combine with his ability to shoot and create for others. He is an elite shooter with deep NBA range. Zach McCabe (Jr. 6-7 232 lbs) is a tough defender that can facilitate offense in spot duty. His ability to defend multiple positions creates versatility in line-ups.

After a very good freshman campaign Melsahn Basabe (Jr. 6-7 225 lbs) took a step back last year. He is a big, strong forward capable of playing both the three and the four. His lack of perimeter shooting and size make him more of a tweener than a traditional version of either position. The tools are there for Basabe to be an elite defender with his athleticism, to be a big time defender in college. What may be good for Basabe is that he will have less offensive responsibility with the new talent coming in. Last year he shot the ball worse (-48%), scored less (-2.8 PPG), and didn’t log as many minutes because of that. Basabe has been criticized in the past for his lack of energy and low motor, which can be damning for a prospect when being evaluated.

 

Michigan

2013 NBA Talent: Trey Burke (36) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (67)

Key Losses: Carlton Brundidge (Transfer, Detroit), Colton Christian (Transfer, FIU), Evan Smotrycz (Transfer, Maryland), and Zack Novak

Incoming Talent: Mitch McGary, Glen Robinson, and Nik Stayskas

Two different trios will be key for the Wolverines this year and are all have NBA potential as prospects this year or beyond.

The incoming group of Glen Robinson Jr. (Fr. 6-6 200 lbs), Mitch McGary (Fr. 6-9 263 lbs), and Nik Stauskas (Fr. 6-6 205 lbs) all provide immediate impact. Robinson Jr. has the most potential with his basketball pedigree and out of the gym athleticism. He is a great athlete and a smooth scorer that can make explosive plays at the rim as well as knock down the three on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

McGary is a dominant physical presence in the paint with his athleticism and strength. He may have physically peaked at this point in his career and seems to try and dunk everything on offense McGary has the tools to develop on offense and has landed on a team where he can develop his game. At the Nike Hoops Summit he looked out of shape and needs to get into better condition to be effective on the defensive end as he doesn’t have quick feet.

Stauskas is a tough wing that can knock down the three from NBA range and has good size for the wing.

Trey Burke (So. 6-1 175 lbs) is the leader of the team at the point guard position. He has a knack for making the big play on offense off of the bounce. Burke is not a consistent shooter or an elite athlete, but simply makes plays getting into the teeth of the defense. Some see the small point guard as a lottery talent, but he still has holes in his game to improve upon.

Last year Jordan Morgan (Jr. 6-8 250 lbs) repeated his impressive performance of the year prior. The power forward is not an elite scorer, but scores very efficiently in the paint. He is built like an NBA four and has great strength, but is not a great athlete above the rim. His strong hands allow him to finish strong and rebound the ball.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (Jr. 6-5 185 lbs) was expected to make the leap into being a star this year. Instead he took a step back in terms of his leadership and shooting. He was able to connect better on attempts inside the paint as a sophomore making 53% of his two’s, but only 28.3% of his three’s. Hardaway Jr. has good size as a two and is built fairly strong with the ability to score inside out. His confidence seemed to be lacking last year from the beginning, and his production dipped on the court when Burke found his stride as the teams’ leader.

 

Michigan State

2013 NBA Talent: Branden Dawson (17), Keith Appling (57), and Adreian Payne (66)

Key Losses: Draymond Green (NBA) and Brandon Wood

Incoming Talent: Gary Harris, Kenny Kaminski, Matt Costello, and Denzel Valentine

This year the Spartans will be lead by a potentially dynamic backcourt featuring Keith Appling (Jr. 6-1 180 lbs) and Branden Dawson (So. 6-6 200 lbs).

Last year Appling quietly had a very good year. He settled in during conference play becoming a true leader at the point balancing his ability to score and distribute more evenly. That dynamic is always a struggle for young point guards. Appling has pretty good size and athleticism for the position physically that he uses to get to the rim and make effective plays for the team.

Dawson gives Appling a big bodied NBA athlete on the wing to get the ball to. In his freshman campaign Dawson got off to a fast and efficeint start scoring the ball well in the paint and inside the three-point arc. He was able to score the ball with his attacking style and never tried to be someone else. Dawson is not a shooter so all season he put himself into a position to make plays inside the arc only taking three total attempts from deep all year. More impressively is the way Dawson rebounds his position better than anyone. He finished the year with three double-doubles and averaging 4.5 RPG. Athletically and physically Dawson is ahead of his peers, but needs to improve his shooting and perimeter skills to make the leap as a two or three in the NBA.

One prospect getting rave reviews this summer is Adreian Payne (Jr. 6-10 225 lbs). The raw, athletic center has always flashed the promise of an NBA center with the way he runs the floor, defends the rim, and finishes above it. As a sophomore Payne made major strides and if the evolution continues he may have first round talent. Payne has the ability to be an elite defender at the next level with his shot-blocking instincts and length.

The highlight of the recruiting trail was getting Gary Harris (Fr. 6-4 210 lbs). As more of a throw-back combo guard Harris fits right into the Spartans. He is not a flashy player or a selfish player on offense. Harris is a smooth strong bodied player that excels at finishing in traffic. At the Nike Hoops Summit Harris was a bit underwhelming playing passively through the offense and not forcing anything. Not a typical one-and-done prospect as an incoming freshman, but Harris has the potential to be a four year “Izzo-type player.”

In Kenny Kaminski (Fr. 6-7 230 lbs) the Spartans have one of the best three point shooters in the country potentially, most effective in pick-and-pop situations. Denzel Valentine (Fr. 6-5 205 lbs) is a very good athlete on the wing with a high motor that excels in creating offense for others as a point-forward.

 

Minnesota

2013 NBA Talent: Rodney Williams (42) and Trevor Mbakwe (NA)

Key Losses: Chip Armelin (Transfer, S. Mississippi) and Ralph Sampson III

Incoming Talent: None

It took some time, but Rodney Williams (Sr. 6-7 215 lbs) has come into his own as a basketball player. Coming into college he was an elite athlete with some raw offensive abilities that showed promise early. Over the years he has become a much more efficient scorer. He is a smart scorer that takes his shots verses forcing up bad shots regularly like he did his first two years with the Gophers. Williams is an NBA athlete with a build to play the three and some two at the next level. Defensively, he has made the most strides becoming a  complete defensive player that can get into passing lanes, block shots, and rebound his position.

The team returns Trevor Mbakwe (Sr. 6-8 240 lbs) to the roster after he missed most of last season as well as the entire 2009-2010 season due to legal troubles and a torn anterior cruciate ligament took all but seven games from him last season. Mbakwe is entering his sixth year of eligibility — he is old for this class — at 23 years old today. Overall he is a rugged defender that rebounds his position and plays a tough style at the four.

Mbakwe really came on during his first year at Minnesota. He averaged a double-double and proved to be a very valuable rebounder/defender. On Draft night Mbakwe will be 24 years and 6 months old. Not quiet Bernard James old, but old.

Second year duo in the backcourt Andre Hollins (So. 6-1 200 lbs) and Joe Coleman (So. 6-4 200 lbs) will be key cogs as well. With Williams and Mbakwe as the marquee faces of the team, Collins and Coleman will need to leverage their skills on the perimeter with play-making.

 

Nebraska

2013 NBA Talent: None

Key Losses: Jorge Brian Diaz (Professional, Overseas), Josiah Moore (Transfer, Tennessee Tech, Toney McCray, Bo Spencer, and Brandon Richardson

Incoming Talent: Terran Petteway (Transfer, Texas Tech) and Walter Pitchford (Transfer, Florida)

Terran Petteway (So. 6-6 185 lbs) will be the best Husker on the court, but not until the 2013-2014 season after transferring from Texas Tech. This year’s team will struggle to score as they lose four of their top six scorers from last season.

 

Northwestern

2013 NBA Talent: None

Key Losses: John Shurna and Luka Mirkovic

Incoming Talent: Jared Swopshire (Transfer, Louisville)

Subtract John Shurna and add Drew Crawford (Sr. 6-5 205 lbs) as the leader all-around offensive threat for the Wildcats.

Over the past three years Crawford has been steady and consistent as a compliment scorer, last year he stepped up showing the ability to be the guy. He is a good shooter from three, but not elite from deep getting most of his work done inside the arc. Crawford has good size at the two with the length to defend both wing positions. On offense he has improved as a ball-handler and play-maker, but still needs to tighten that up as the defensive focus now falls on him solely as a senior.

Crawford has NBA potential and could be the biggest riser as well as the sleeper of the conference in the 2013 NBA Draft.

 

Ohio State

2013 NBA Talent: Deshaun Thomas (14) and LaQuinton Ross (54)

Key Losses: Jordan Sibert (Transfer, Dayton), J.D. Weatherspoon (Transfer, Toledo), William Buford, and Jared Sullinger (NBA)

Incoming Talent: Amedeo Della Valle

With the departure of two of the teams’ top scorers the bulk of the offensive load will fall on Deshaun Thomas (Jr. 6-6 230 lbs). As a secondary scorer Thomas brings a lot to the table able to score from the inside and the outside. His size allows him to play inside on the block against smaller defenders, but Thomas does not have traditional strength as he could tone up better as well as add some strength, but has the width and size to be effective on the block. On the perimeter Thomas made 50 threes last season, not a consistent shooter, but a streak shooter that can get hot and knock down a few in a row.

Defensively Thomas made some strides to end the season. Over his last 13 games he averaged 7.3 RPG an increase in large part due to grabbing 3.2 offensive RPB. In that span he had three double-doubles, the only three of his career. Thomas is a good offensive rebounder for his position, but not a consistent defender at this point in his career.

On the perimeter Aaron Craft (Jr. 6-2 190 lbs) will run the offense. Over the past two seasons he has exceeded expectations as a scrappy defensive point to a legitimate all-around basketball player. This season he will have more added to his plate. Last season Craft shot the ball better from the field overall looking more confident as a scorer, maintaining his defensive prowess, and distribution. Defensively Craft is a good end-to-end defender that can harrass offensive players full-court. He has good footwork on defense, very fundamental, and quick enough to keep up with even the most elite point guards.

LaQuinton Ross (So. 6-8 215 lbs) has the skills on the perimeter to be an elite scorer. He is built like an NBA wing today with great size and length. After going through issues with his eligibility and potential (attitude) problem with his role last year he has a chance to standout this year. With the ball in his hands Ross can knock down the NBA three in rhythm as well as the pull-up jumper from mid-range. He is smooth, but inexperienced and untested.

The trio of Amir Williams (So. 6-11 220 lbs), Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Jr. 6-4 205 lbs), and Sam Thompson (So. 6-7 190 lbs) will have bigger roles as well. Williams is a very athletic mobile big man with a lot of upside. He can score the ball from 12-feet in and finish above the rim. If he plays with a consistent motor every game he has a very high ceiling. Smith Jr. is a talented smooth lefty two that fills up the stat sheet on offense. He looks for the open man consistently as a play-maker and can score inside absorbing contact when attacking the rim.

Thompson had a small role last year, but has a big time game as a defender on the perimeter and a play-maker on offense. On defense Thompson is a quality shot-blocker from the three and in spot duty can defend the one, two, and three.

A wildcard is point guard Amedeo Della Valle (Fr. 6-5 185 lbs) from Findlay Prep via Italy. He is a big point with good court vision, but is not a consistent shooter and will need a few years to gain strength and experience.

 

Penn State

2013 NBA Talent: None

Key Losses: Cammeron Woodyard

Incoming Talent: None

Tim Frazier (Sr. 6-1 160 lbs) comes in as a senior scoring guard from the point guard position. He is undersized for his major skill-set — scoring the ball, but has a unique way of getting his points. Last season he more than doubled his output from the free-throw line (5.0 makes per game) and is a career 43.4% shooter from inside the arc. Frazier is not a volume shooter from three taking only 47 in three years, but 27 of them last season.

Coming into his junior season Frazier was given more responsibility on offense and basically became the offense for the Nittany Lions. His combination of speed and surprising athleticism allows the smaller Frazier to score at the rim and get to the free-throw line consistently. He can switch from scorer to passer fairly easy and is a good decision-maker that can find the open man.

 

Purdue

2013 NBA Talent: None

Key Losses: Kelsey Barlow (Transfer, UIC), John Hart (Transfer, IUPUI), Robbie Hummel (NBA), and Lewis Jackson

Incoming Talent: A.J. Hammons, Rapheal Davis, and Ronnie Johnson

The Boilermakers have to begin the process of creating new leaders after losing JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and Lewis Jackson over the years.

That process will begin with A.J. Hammons (Fr. 7-0 275 lbs) and Rapheal Davis (Fr. 6-5 200 lbs) who both provide solid size for position.

Hammons has great size at the center position as well as a more traditional skill-set as a center. He is mobile, but paint oriented as a defender and rebounder. He has solid timing as a shot-blocker already with room to improve as he gains the right amount of strength. With his strong hands he can catch the ball in the post and move defenders off of his body with ease when he gets position.

On the perimeter Davis is a versatile scoring threat. He can score from three or the mid-range, but mixes in aggressive penetration throughout the game. Davis is not an elite athlete nor does he have the motor yet to be considered an NBA level prospect.

 

Wisconsin

2013 NBA Talent: Ryan Evans (NA) and Mike Bruesewitz (NA)

Key Losses: Jarrod Uthoff (Transfer, Iowa) and Jordan Taylor

Incoming Talent: Sam Dekker

Over the past two seasons the Badgers graduated Jon Leuer in 2011 and Jordan Taylor in 2012 leaving them without star power entering this season.

This group will rely on team play to have an efficient, successful season. They are loaded with potential NBA role players led by forwards Jared Berggren (Sr. 6-10 235 lbs), Ryan Evans (Sr. 6-6 210 lbs), and Mike Bruesewitz (Sr. 6-6 210 lbs).

Those three seniors have different skills overall, but all bring toughness and a grit that helps an unathletic player fight with a chip on their shoulder to the next level. Berggren has the best and most traditional size of the group. He can play the four and a little five at the next level. Last year he jumped from 6.9 MPG to 27.8 MPG providing a stable force in the paint defensively and on the perimeter as a shooter. He is a typical stretch four on offense — limited as an athlete, but can shoot it consistently from deep.

Bruesewitz is undersized as a four, not athletic enough to play the three full-time, but plays with great energy throughout a game. He has the motor needed to make up for his lack of traditional athleticism. Offensively Bruesewitz is very limited, average shooter, but not consistent enough to be considered a stretch-four. On the other side of the spectrum, Evans provides a solid athleticism from the perimeter with good length and size. He scores most of his points with his mid-range shot and at the rim playing in control through the flow of the offense. Evans is a quality rebounder and defender for his position, which is where he makes most of his impact on the court.

Elite shooting guard Josh Gasser (Jr. 6-3 190 lbs) has improved as a basketball player thanks to the system. He is a very limited prospect, but an elite shooter that has shown growth as a ball-handler and play-maker.

Incoming wing Sam Dekker (Fr. 6-7 195 lbs) provides a little bit of everything for the Badgers. On the wing he is a solid shooter, quality rebounder, and can make plays with his passing. He is not a one-and-done type athlete, but could emerge as the team’s best player in his first year.

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