A major talent infusion is taking place in the West Coasts power conference. There isnt a big name, lock lottery pick here, but there are plenty of young, developing prospects that must be watched closely. Malik Hairston
, Jordan Farmar
, Jawann McClellan
, Nick Young
, and Gabe Pruitt
headline a brilliant sophomore class. Its doubtful that every player in this group will have emerged into stardom by the end of the season, but you can bank on a couple of them developing into legitimate first round prospects when its all said and done. If its upperclassmen you are looking for, players like Brandon Roy
, Hassan Adams
, Bobby Jones
, and Matt Haryasz
fit the bill. Overall, there is a lot for NBA scouts to keep tabs on in the Pac-10. All photos, except Hassan Adams, are courtesy of the Associated Press1. SG Malik Hairston, sophomore, Oregon (66, 200)447
As a freshman, Hairston wasnt quite the player that the more optimistic scouting reports promised he would be. Hairston wasnt nearly consistent enough, had a tendency to drift away from the ball, and could use a bit more range on his shot. However, he also showed more than a few flashes of why such big things were expected of him. Hairston isnt a lottery prospect because of his raw leaping ability, but still exhibits amazing body control, has a lightning fast first step, and can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways. As he learns how to assert himself as a team leader, the calm, unselfish demeanor is going to become a major asset. It could only be a matter of time before Malik Hairston
is being talked about as a lottery pick, instead of just a prospect. 2. SG Hassan Adams, senior, Arizona (64, 212)917
Big things have been predicted for Hassan Adams
for quite some time now, and last season was actually a step backwards Lute Olsons explosive wing. There might not be a more powerful leaper in all of college basketball this season, but Adams struggled last year when asked to play away from the basket a bit more. His shooting and ball-handling skills leave a lot to be desired, but Adams is always able to make an impact around the basket due to his tenacity, strength, and sheer leaping ability. Salim Stoudamire
is gone, so look for Adams to be the new go-to option in the Arizona backcourt. This could finally be the year that Hassan Adams
pulls everything together and cashes in on that lottery potential. 3. SG Brandon Roy, senior, Washington (66, 215)
4. PG Jordan Farmar, sophomore, UCLA (62, 180) 485
Roy is in a similar situation as Hassan Adams
in that hes a physically superior wing with a perimeter game that is still a work in progress. He also has been forced to wait for more accomplished teammates to move on, and has suffered a few injury setbacks. Barring another injury, Roy should be Lorenzo Romar
s new star. He has the athleticism, length, developed body, and slashing ability to break out. The area to keep an eye on with Roy is his suspect outside shot. If he can improve his perimeter shooting, and as long as the red flags on his knee dont turn too many GMs away, a first round selection could be awaiting him this June.
5. PG Gabe Pruitt, sophomore, USC (64, 170)
Farmar doesnt look like an NBA prospect, but true floor general ability can never be truly underrated. Farmar had a few nasty games early in the season, but by mid-year, he was running the show as well as just about any 4-year starter could ever hope to. Farmar isnt a standout athlete, but is better than he looks. Hell hit the open jumper, and more importantly, always find his teammates when they are open. When it comes to controlling the tempo, there might not be a better point guard in the nation. It will be interesting to see if Farmar can follow in the footsteps of Deron Williams
to become the next big time pass-first point guard prospect.
The other very promising sophomore PG prospect in the conference, Pruitt has the raw tools of your prototypical NBA point guard. Hes athletic enough to get by people off of the dribble, has a beautiful outside shooting stroke, makes good decisions, and has ideal height. Pruitt is also in a situation tailor-made for him to show off for the NBA scouts, as he has just one upperclassman teammate. Pruitt still has a lot to learn, but has as much upside as any player in the Pac-10. It could be a breakthrough year. 6. PF Leon Powe, sophomore, California (68, 245)914
7. C Matt Haryasz, senior, Stanford (611, 230)
Its been some time since Leon Powe
put on his uniform, but there is little doubt that he will be one of the more dominant players in the conference this season. Playing on a bad knee, he still dominated the conference as a freshman. After ACL surgery and a year of rehab, Powe looks to pick up where he left off. While its hard to say for sure how a player so reliant on his explosiveness will bounce back, Powe looked good over the summer and will be the undisputed first option for Ben Braun and the Golden Bears. Powe is a bit undersized, but makes up for it with the aforementioned bounce, brute strength, and huge wingspan. It wouldnt be a surprise at all to see Powe bounce back with an All-American type of season, and end up as a first round pick down the road, especially if his knee problems check out OK in physicals.
8. SG Nick Young, sophomore, USC (66, 195)
One of the most improved players in the conference a season ago, Haryasz is a finesse big man with the combination of size and skill that will keep the scouts intrigued. He will hit the outside shot, but is also comfortable on the lows blocks and from the baseline. Haryasz is also an accomplished rebounder, averaging over 9 rebounds per game last year. To have a legitimate chance at the first round, Haryasz will have to bulk up a bit. Right now, he probably doesnt have the physical strength to play C in the NBA. However, after a little bulking up, Matt Haryasz
likely will look the part of a nice high-post big man.
9. SG Jawann McClellan, sophomore, Arizona (64, 215)918
Not a highly regarded high schooler, Nick Young
still managed to beat out several upperclassmen for the right to start in the Trojan backcourt as a freshman. Young has very nice athleticism, but is more than capable of playing the finesse game. He has great body control, shoots well from the outside, and is going to be a factor creating his own shot. Young will need to play tougher and add consistency, though these arent uncommon problems for a freshman. Like Pruitt, hell be getting top-notch coaching and plenty of shots this winter. Young could be primed to explode.
McClellan took care of business on the court last season, carving out a role on a team loaded with talented veterans. When he did get starters minutes, it was obvious that McClellan had a bright future in front of him. Unfortunately, he didnt take care of business in the classroom after a family tragedy. He was declared ineligible for the fall semester, but should be back in time for Pac-10 play. When he does step foot on the court, he should instantly rank amongst the conferences top shooting guards. McClellan is a bit undersized, but has a developed body, hits from the outside, and is an adept slasher. He also has displayed the ability to become a very, very good defender. The academic difficulties might push back the timeline a bit, but McClellan looks like a player that will end up in the NBA someday. 10. SF Bobby Jones, senior, Washington (66, 215)
Jones has spent much of his career in a supporting role to Washingtons more prolific scoring guards. He still managed to carve out a role as a defensive specialist, and throw in a few high flying dunks for good measure. While Jones probably has some adjusting to do before hes ready to be a full-time wing in the NBA, he is athletic and tough enough to do just that. This season is Jones chance to prove himself to NBA scouts. 11. PG Mustafa Shakur, junior, Arizona (63, 183)
Shakur should have developed into a star by now, but for reasons that arent entirely clear, hasnt been able to make that jump. Hes got athleticism, size, and the rudimentary tools of both a good scorer and floor general. But Shakur has played tentative, mistake-prone basketball in his first two seasons as a Wildcat, showing a particularly ugly shooting stroke from behind the arc. There have been individual games where he has played at a very high level, but those have been few and far between. Maybe an increased role as a scorer will help clear things up, but Shakurs potential is what is keeping him on this list. 12. PG Chris Hernandez, senior, Stanford (62, 190)916
Hernandez isnt a big national name, but anybody watching Pac-10 basketball on a regular basis will tell you that he was the best point guard in the conference last season, and one of the best in the country as well. His draft foray last spring produced limited results, but he will get more attention as a senior. Hernandez makes the most out of his physical gifts, though they are a bit limited, and has improved his perimeter jumper to near marksman status. NBA teams love to pick up accomplished floor generals in the second round, and Hernandez would be a prime candidate in 2006. 13. SG Marcus Williams, freshman, Arizona (67, 205)
Its tough to know where to put a freshman in comparison to upperclassmen that have already proved themselves on the floor, but Williams is clearly the top NBA prospect in the Pac-10s freshman class. Hes got length, athleticism, and all sorts of scoring skill, especially in terms of outside shooting. He needs to put weight on his frame, but has an opportunity to play immediately with the ineligibility of Jawann McClellan
and the injury problems of Chris Rodgers
. Even if he doesnt play much this winter, it probably has more to do with the Wildcats depth than Williams ability as a player (if you werent counting, Williams is the fourth Arizona guard or swingman on this list). Expect big things down the road from this Wildcat prospect. 14. F Nick DeWitz, senior, Oregon State (68, 220)
DeWitz was a major reason for Oregon States near .500 showing in the Pac-10 last year. He surprised many with his athleticism, perimeter skill, and general tenacity around the basket. DeWitz plays a one-of-a-kind style, so it will be interesting to see what the future will bring. He is now the first option for Jay John, and that could mean a significant increase in production. DeWitz is absolutely a tweener, but is still a player to keep an eye on. Expect him to at least get a shot to prove himself in Portsmouth and possibly in Chicago. 15. PG Aaron Brooks, junior, Oregon (60, 160)
Brooks isnt ever going to wow anybody with his NBA potential, but has quickness and scoring ability to earn a shot in the NBA after his senior year. Brooks plays in a backcourt full of high-octane scorers, and thus must work on becoming more of a natural playmaker. While Brooks may never be a first rounder, he could potentially develop into a backup point guard in the NBA.