While the star power of this year’s NBA Draft is almost completely absent, the NCAA Tournament still allows us the chance to look at many of the guys who will hear their names called early this summer. And after looking at the Top 10 NBA Prospects in the NCAA Tournament last week, here are the 10 best still alive in the Big Dance and where they’d best fit in the League.
10. John Henson – PF, 6-10, Sophomore, UNC
BEST FITS: Phoenix, New Jersey, Toronto
I’m not a huge fan of Henson. He doesn’t really have a position and you can’t count on him to make good decisions or get buckets offensively. But he’s on this list because of his freakish length and amazing defensive potential. For a good team, Henson could be a fantastic defensive weapon.
9. Kawhi Leonard – SF, 6-7, Sophomore, San Diego State
BEST FITS: Anyone
I doubt Leonard ever becomes a star – in fact, there may not be a surefire All-Star in this entire Draft – but he’s athletic, plays hard and is a good defender. Whenever I get the chance to watch him, he seems to always score within the flow of the offense. Good news for him, he has the look of a guy who could be a great role player on a championship-level team.
8. Jimmer Fredette – SG, 6-2, Senior, BYU
BEST FITS: Charlotte, Utah, Toronto
We all know what and who he is by now. It’s really not even worth arguing on his NBA prospects. He is the best offensive player in the country. Period. Yet, he is terrible on defense. He will be able to score in the NBA because around 70 percent of his offense comes in isolations and he can shoot off-the-dribble just as well as off-the-catch. Now, he just needs to hope he latches on somewhere that fits.
7. Terrence Jones – PF, 6-8, Freshman, Kentucky
BEST FITS: Phoenix, New Orleans, Milwaukee
Jones is a tweener. But for once, that term is used in a good way. He will need to be surrounded by other players that can make up for some of his weaknesses. Stick him next to a great point guard or get him out in the open court, and Jones will be able to make some things happen. He’s not a great one-on-one player, so his strength as an offensive player will probably be playing off others.
6. Brandon Knight – PG, 6-3, Freshman, Kentucky
BEST FITS: Cleveland, Charlotte, Houston
Knight came in with a ton of hype, disappointed, and has now rebounded to get back into the middle of the Lottery. Always a scoring guard, Knight has the skills to average 15 or so points a game in the NBA. The best part about him is that he doesn’t always need the ball in his hands to produce.
5. Kemba Walker – PG, 6-0, Junior, UConn
BEST FITS: Phoenix, Utah, Charlotte
Hands down my favorite player still left. He is a beast, and has the heart to make it even at his size. Honestly, I used to hate his game, called him overrated. But this year, he has been so good and so versatile that I have to admit he looks like a future bucket-getter in the NBA. Any Lottery team could use a creating guard and I’m certain Walker will fit in whether he plays on the ball or off it.
4. Derrick Williams – PF, 6-8, Sophomore, Arizona
BEST FITS: Sacramento, Utah, New Jersey
Williams is probably the most complete player in the country and if he were just a little taller, or a slightly better shooter, he might be the first overall pick in the Draft. Arizona asks him to carry the load every game, and he does by scoring in a variety of ways. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing, but he reminds me a little of Evan Turner.
3. Harrison Barnes – SF, 6-8, Freshman, UNC
BEST FITS: Sacramento, New Jersey, Minnesota
How smooth is Barnes? The game comes way too easy for him. Whether it’s shooting threes or finishing inside, he glides around the court like no one else can touch him. Barnes has improved as the season has gone on and probably won’t fall out of the Top 3. But I just don’t see him standing out at the next level. He has all the skills, but there just always seems to be something missing with him.
2. Jared Sullinger – PF, 6-8, Freshman, Ohio State
BEST FITS: Washington, Toronto, Phoenix
Sullinger has been helped a lot by Kevin Love‘s success this season because the Ohio State big man plays a lot like the Minnesota forward. Both are undersized and thick, and both always go after the ball and know how to score inside. Sullinger isn’t a glamorous player, but he will be very solid.
1. Kyrie Irving – PG, 6-2, Freshman, Duke
BEST FITS: Cleveland, L.A. Clippers, Houston
Chris Paul. That’s who I think of when I see Irving. During this tournament, we may never see the Irving that was dominant at the start of the season, but that really doesn’t matter. NBA teams know what he can do and as point guards have become the most critical position in the league, his stock really can’t get any higher.
What do you think? Who would you say is the best prospect left in the tourney? Who do you want on your team? Who did we leave out?
Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.