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Saw this article on ESPN, and wanted to see what you guys think.
When I opened the article, I see a big picture of Isaiah, and halfway down the article they rank Isaiah Austin as their #1, "Probably ranked higher than he should be on our Big Board".
I understand that he has not fully matured into his body, but he has all the size and skill in the world to be a lottery pick. Also, saying the he has underwhelmed this season is completely wrong.
North Carolina's James Michael McAdoo and Baylor's Isaiah Austin have underwhelmed this season.
During college hoops season, Jay Bilas and Chad Ford will start the week off by addressing a big question, evaluating NBA prospects on the rise and looking ahead to the next week.
discussion: Who are the five most overrated prospects in college basketball?
Jay Bilas: I am not a big fan of "overrated" prospect lists. When we go through this exercise, I always get the feeling that we are simply blaming the player for our mistakes in projecting and evaluating talent, or our "irrational exuberance" over a player's future potential. Instead of calling ourselves out for our mistakes, we tend to pile on the player for failing to live up to our billing of him. We rate and hype them, and if they don't meet our standard, we call them "overrated" instead of stating that we whiffed, or simply moving on to those players who are meeting that standard.
Look, I'm not naive. I understand that, right or wrong, dealing with expectations and the media is part of the deal. But I am still not comfortable with it. Notwithstanding our whiffs, there are some players who have not lived up to our advance billing. But it should also be noted that they haven't lived up to it yet. There is no clock on this, and just because Anthony Davis figured it out as a freshman and was ahead of the curve while Nerlens Noel hasn't (yet), doesn't mean that Noel won't get there, or that what he is doing now is not impressive.
Consider Noel's numbers and performance so far. Halfway through his freshman season, Noel is averaging 10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, 2.7 steals and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the line on 3.9 attempts per contest. Noel is the only player taller than 6-foot-5 who ranks in the top 30 in the nation in steals, and is the only player in the top 30 in the country in both steals and blocks.
Contrast that with the freshman season of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. In his first season at Georgetown, Ewing averaged 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.08 steals and 0.6 assists per game while shooting 63 percent from the floor and 62 percent from the line on 4.5 attempts per game.
Does the fact Noel's numbers are comparable and in some categories superior to Ewing's numbers indicate that Noel is as good or will be as good as Ewing? Of course not. However, it underscores that this is not a race, and today's "overrated" player can be tomorrow's hot prospect. These players who are not yet where we want them to be -- or where we projected them to be -- may very well get there in time. Yet time is the one thing we don't allow them.
Here are four players that might need some more time to develop:
1. James Michael McAdoo, F, North Carolina Tar Heels
Perhaps no player in America has had more expectations heaped upon his shoulders than McAdoo. A top-five prospect in the 2011 high school class, he is North Carolina's leading scorer and rebounder, yet is considered to be disappointing. I compare McAdoo with former Tar Heel John Henson. Henson came to North Carolina with similar hype, and would similarly be referred to as a disappointment early. Henson was projected as a perimeter player with great versatility. In his first season, when North Carolina went to the NIT (in a season similar to what the Tar Heels seem to be experiencing this campaign), Henson averaged 5.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the line. This season, McAdoo is averaging 14.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 46 percent shooting from the floor and 62 percent from the line. McAdoo has not been efficient and has struggled to find consistent production with a young team as the primary target of opposing defenses. He does not yet have a reliable back-to-the-basket game, and he is not skilled on the perimeter. He needs space to operate, and when that space is taken up by the defense, he can be limited. But he is athletic, bouncy and can really run the floor. On a better and more experienced team, you can see his tools more clearly. As he matures, I believe McAdoo will continue to get better, and will figure out how to take over a game and impact it. This kid will be a terrific college player who will play in the NBA.
2. Alex Poythress, F, Kentucky Wildcats
Poythress is like McAdoo in a way. He was hyped coming out of high school and has been very good. However, he has not been as good as we said he was going to be. Coming into the season, I projected Poythress to be among the top candidates for SEC Player of the Year. After 15 games, Poythress is averaging 13 points, 6 rebounds and shooting 63 percent from the field. But over his past five games, he has averaged 10 points on only 5.5 shots per game. Poythress has been inconsistent against the best teams. He is a spectacular athlete who can physically dominate an opponent with his size (6-7, 239), athleticism and length, but he lacks a position and an understanding of how to impact games consistently. Poythress is not a natural perimeter player nor a natural back-to-the-basket post. But he is a freshman playing with other freshmen, none of whom have it figured out yet. Poythress is going to get there, and will be a first-round pick in this year's draft. I believe he will get there this season as a college player, but he is not there yet. To date, he has not yet lived up to our hype.
3. Adonis Thomas, G/F, Memphis Tigers
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
Adonis Thomas has not shot well this season and is pulling down only 4.1 boards per game.
Thomas came into Memphis as a much-hyped player who would be a first-round NBA draft pick. He is physically gifted but lacks a position and position skills. As a freshman, Thomas averaged 8.8 points and shot 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range. This season, Thomas is averaging 11 points, but is pulling down only 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting only 41 percent from the floor and 19 percent from 3-point range. Thomas has been up and down all season; he will put up 19 points in one game and score five points the next contest. Yet Thomas has played with injuries and is still very young in his development. He has not gotten there, but he still can.
4. Le'Bryan Nash, G/F, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Nash is 6-7 and a spectacular athlete with all of the physical tools to be an outstanding player. Last season, he put up good numbers and was Big 12 Rookie of the Year, but he did not have good shooting percentages due to the high volume of bad shots he took -- and he was very loose with the ball. He can go off the dribble and can rise up and hit midrange jumpers, even when challenged. Plus, he can score in the post or face up and drive it, and he can get on the glass. Nash got off to a great start this season, and looked as if he had shed his inconsistency and perceived attitude and work ethic issues. But Nash has not been consistent over the past month or so in terms of his effort and production. His talent level suggests he should be among the very best players in the college game, but his play suggests he hasn't figured it out yet. Nash's numbers are identical to last season -- and just as inefficient. There is no reason that Nash cannot be as good and productive as we all want him to be.
Chad Ford: I think it's harder to rate the "overrated" players than it is the "underrated" ones. Most players are overrated for a reason: they either come with great pedigrees, have huge, unrealized upside or have great production under questionable circumstances.
Last season, Duke's Austin Rivers was the poster child for the pedigree problem. An elite high school basketball player whose dad, Doc Rivers, was a former NBA stud and current NBA coach, he had everyone fawning over him, even when his production in college didn't warrant it.
Perry Jones often garnered buzz for his unrealized upside. He had every physical tool a basketball coach could want and he worked hard. But he rarely showed the consistency to dominate in the college game. Jones slid the last few weeks before the draft, but that was more due to injury than how scouts viewed him.
Finally, there are players like Jimmer Fredette, who light it up in special situations. They tend to be older than everyone else on the floor, play in special offenses, against weak competition or, like Fredette, have a college coach who gives them the ultimate green light -- something they'd never get in the pros.
Here are five college players who are probably ranked higher than they should be on our Big Board:
1. Isaiah Austin, F, Baylor Bears
I want to love Austin. What team couldn't use a 7-footer who can launch 3s and score from anywhere on the floor? Plus, he's having a very good freshman season. So why does he top the list? Because a handful of teams still have him in the top five on their draft boards and I struggle to see it. If he was a better shooter or if he had a better midrange game, then maybe I could see it. But as it stands now, he looks like a classic "tweener" who might struggle to find a position he can defend well at the NBA level. That may change with time and when his body fills out more, but if he were to declare for the NBA this year, I'd have my reservations.
2. James Michael McAdoo, F, North Carolina Tar Heels
McAdoo already suffered a pretty big slide on our Big Board thanks to a disappointing start to the season. But McAdoo seems like the perfect example of an "upside" guy who is struggling to reach it. He has the physical tools and an elite high school pedigree. But watch McAdoo play and it's clear that he hasn't developed much since high school. That may be Roy Williams' fault, but NBA scouts are getting wiser to prospects who struggle to develop.
3. Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas Mean Green
Andrew B. Fielding/US Presswire
Tony Mitchell has flashed big-time playmaking ability but has yet to put it all together for North Texas.
It's getting tougher and tougher to get excited about a player who's struggling to get his team above .500 in the Sun Belt conference. Mitchell, who is clearly very talented, just doesn't seem to have it in him to dominate the game the way his talent suggests. I've watched a few North Texas games, and every time came away shaking my head at what could be if Mitchell played to his potential.
4. Doug McDermott, F, Creighton Bluejays
McDermott is one of the five best players in college basketball. He's an efficient scorer who has proved that he can consistently score from anywhere on the floor. But if you compare his physical tools and game to anyone in the NBA, you're left scratching your head a bit. He may be the classic case of a kid on the right team in the right system in the right conference who, when they hit the real world of the NBA, inevitably falters. Luke Harangody, not Larry Bird, might be the better comparison.
5. Patric Young, F/C, Florida Gators
Young has always looked the part of an NBA player. He's built like a smaller version of Dwight Howard. But his impact on the court has never been there. Despite his reputation as an elite defender, he's never been an above-average rebounder or shot-blocker, and his offense remains as raw as the day he put on a Gators uniform. The only reason Young is in our Top 50 right now is based on his high school reputation.
Prospect on the rise
Ford: Ben McLemore, G, Kansas Jayhawks
We've featured McLemore in this space a few times, but after his signature 33-point performance against Iowa State when he went 6-for-6 from 3 and banked in the shot that sent the game to overtime, it's time to start evaluating McLemore as the potential top pick in the draft. Noel, Shabazz Muhammad and Alex Len are all in the mix and they've all had their moments. But none of them consistently dominate the game the way McLemore does. Yes, he has his off nights (like his 10-point performance against Texas Tech on Saturday), but he looks like an NBA stud almost every night.
It's very rare for an NBA team to take a wing with the No. 1 overall pick. The last time it happened was 2003 with LeBron James and before that 1994 with Glenn Robinson. But there's actually a dearth of great swingmen in the league right now and McLemore could end up being a Ray Allen-type player. While he hasn't quite made it to the top of our Big Board just yet, it could happen really soon.
Bilas: Dwight Powell, F, Stanford Cardinal
Powell is a 21-year-old junior from Canada who came to Stanford from IMG Academy in Florida. He is 6-10, long, athletic and very skilled. Powell can face up, post and run the floor, and he has a varied skill set that allows him to play all over the court. He is not a big, bruising and physical player; rather, he is a skilled player who has been called soft at times early in his career. Powell has shown more toughness in absorbing physical contact this season -- and finishing through it -- and he has been much more consistent. Plus, he has had some very productive games, including putting up 22 points against Minnesota and 23 points against NC State, two teams that possess big, athletic front lines. Powell is a perimeter-oriented big, averaging 15 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 49 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range and 79 percent from the line.
What to watch for this week
Bilas: I'm lucky to have another great week. I have the honor of calling Louisville at UConn on Monday, which will feature two dynamic backcourts in Peyton Siva and Russ Smith going against Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier. On Wednesday, I'm calling NC State at Maryland, which is an important game and a big opportunity for both teams. On Saturday, we'll have "College GameDay" at Butler when Gonzaga comes to Hinkle Fieldhouse, one of the coolest venues in all of college basketball. The downer is that Rotnei Clarke will likely be out after the nasty fall he had at Dayton.
Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports
C.J. Leslie and the Wolfpack have a tough game this week at Maryland.
As far as other good matchups, Michigan travels to Minnesota on Thursday for a great game at The Barn. The Wolverines suffered their first loss of the season at Ohio State, and Minnesota is coming off of a loss at Indiana. Both teams will be hungry and alert. I am also looking forward to Arizona at Arizona State on Saturday. Herb Sendek has a good team in Tempe. The Wildcats are led by freshman guard Jahii Carson, an ultra-quick scorer, and Carrick Felix, an outstanding wing defender and rebounder. Expect the Sun Devils to give Arizona a fight.
Ford: The Kansas-Baylor game on Monday should be a great one. Baylor has struggled a bit out of the gate, but there is a lot of talent there if it ever jells. I can't wait to see McLemore go out against a team loaded with NBA athletes.
Last week, I said I was a bit skeptical about Minnesota. Not so much anymore after the Gophers whacked Illinois and then came close to winning another big game in Bloomington versus Indiana. If they can take out Michigan at home, I think they could be a very dangerous team down the road. I've focused a lot on Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe, but Dre Hollins is really growing on me. Finally, I can't wait to see how Michael Carter-Williams plays against Louisville on Saturday. After getting off to a very hot start, he's cooling a bit. This Louisville team is the type of squad that will either expose him as a point guard or prove he's the best point guard prospect in the country.
Austin and Jefferson need to hone their skills and stay another year. I would love to see it- don't think it will happen. But it would be good for both of them.
Austin is probably going to spend a lot of time in the D-league if he goes next year. Cory would as well. It would be great to see them dominate the college game on both ends of the court and be top 10 picks.
bono disagreeing with the comments on Tony Mitchell in 5...4...3...2...
I sure hope Isaiah sees this article and decides he needs to stay another year.
I am by no means a basketball development expert, but I had a few thoughts about some player's decision to go or stay.
I wish more players would realize that when they leave early, they will not always get the "professional development" they immediately expect at the next level. Sure, if they make an NBA roster they have top notch facilities and all the practice time in the gym they could ever want.
However, most that need even a little bit more development will be sent to the D-league, where the teams often don't even have control of their own facilities. They share a minor league facility that they are not the main tenant in. The training will be far from top notch, as they most likely will end up at a local gym where they are just lifting with other players (if they are lucky) rather than NBA strength and conditioning coach who will would be a bit more knowledgeable on how to push an athlete. They don't have their own practice gym where that they can develop certain parts of their game in. They often end up at a local athletic facility (Field house USA for those in the Plano/Frisco area) where they have set practice times, and they travel to and from practice in a 12 person passenger van.
If they need to add strength and develop a certain shot/part of their game then I think it is no question that the players need to remain in college where they still have their private gym and top notch strength & conditioning coaches. If it is adapting to the speed of the game, then I could see the jump.
Just some of my thoughts... maybe someone with more knowledge on player development can fill me in if I am completely off base.
When pro teams throw money at you it is almost impossible to turn down. I see Isaiah leaving even though he is not ready. I see Cory staying because I don't think he will be a first rounder, maybe not even high second round.
not really. lot of truth to it this year. he looks uninspired because he is uninspired. he doesnt belong at unt and being so close to home for so long has continued to cause family, girl, and other really poor influences to distract him. if he were not such a good kid he would not have made it this far to be honest.
if he had been allowed to go to mizzou by the NCAA he would have lead them with pressey to tourney wins and been a lottery pick. as it is the NCAA would not even reply to those involved for weeks and he has had a very difficult journey for a kid with his abilities.
he has never had even close to comparable talent around him. when he finally gets to the pro level and is not the focus of 3 defenders on every play he will finally blossom. he did it for a little while last season when inspired even being the focus, but this season has been difficult.
After the drop the PJIII took I would be hard pressed to advise Austin to stay even though he probably should. I am an unabashed hater of the 7' guard because there just arent many Dirk types out there. I dont think that Austin is anywhere near ready to play in the post in the NBA. He does some things though that will have him drafted really high and if you are a 1st rounder you should pretty much always go. Very little upside to staying.
If he's projected lottery, he needs to go. Too much risk returning.
On the other hand, I think Jefferson only does himself favors if he stays.
if you think you will be a first round pick you leave - period. guaranteed contract and the NBA does develop their players better than college would, notwithstanding the contrary belief of some collegiate fans. they have very personalized conditioning and skill development for their multi-million dollar investments, and there is less distraction than in college. college is certainly more fun and a unique experience that can never be re-lived, but the career of a professional athlete is so short that a player should leave if they will be a first round pick.
I know obviously an NBA training and development staff is better than any college staff, but D-league staff's are far from either.
Everyone can see tonight why Jefferson will not be a pro.
Except for Baylor's staff. They have yet to put a real NBA player in the league. No reason for Austin to stay.
jefferson will be a pro.
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