Top NBA Draft Prospects in Non-BCS Conferences, Part Three (#16-20)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in Non-BCS Conferences, Part Three (#16-20)
Nov 07, 2010, 12:12 am
Continuing our coverage of the top returning NBA prospects in Non-BCS conferences, we profile Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, Memphis's Will Coleman, George Odufuwa of North Texas, Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure, and Gary Flowers of Southern Mississippi.

Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA circuit before we attempt to draw any long-term conclusions.

-Top 20 NBA Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big 12
-Top 10 NBA Prospects in the Pac-10
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the SEC
-Top 25 NBA Prospects in the Big East
-Top 25 NBA Prospects in the ACC

Top NBA Draft Prospects in Non-BCS Conferences Part One, Part Two

#1 Elias Harris
#2 Kenneth Faried
#3 Kawhi Leonard
#4 Wesley Witherspoon
#5 Aaric Murray
#6 Keith Benson
#7 Greg Smith
#8 Damian Saunders
#9 Jimmer Fredette
#10 Lavoy Allen
#11 Shelvin Mack
#12 Arsalan Kazemi
#13 Chris Wright
#14 Juan Fernandez
#15 Robert Sacre

# 16 C.J. McCollum, 6'3, Sophomore, Shooting Guard, Lehigh
19.1 Points, 5.0 Rebounds, 2.4 Assists, 1.3 Steals, 2.0 Turnovers, 45.9% FG, 42.1% 3P, 81% FT

Matthew Williams

The most prolific freshman scorer in Division I last season, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum earned little buzz for averaging nearly 20-point a game playing in a small conference. Heralding from the same Glen Oak HS that produced Kosta Koufos, McCollum was not a highly ranked recruit a year ago, but that didn't stop him from leading Lehigh to a NCAA Tournament appearance and scoring 26 points, albeit on 7-21 shooting, against top-seeded Kansas. While McCollum still has a lot to prove from a NBA perspective, it is worth noting what he showed last season.

Lighting up the scoreboard on a nightly basis in Patriot League play, McCollum showed a versatility on the offensive end that could become even valuable to him as his body matures and his skills improve. Standing 6'3, McCollum is undersized for a shooting guard, but he has long arms and three years to show the development in his playmaking ability that would allow him to run the point at the next level. His quickness appears only average, but he changes speeds well and is very smooth with the ball in his hands. McCollum's biggest weakness physically is his lack of great strength. He gets off the floor fairly well when he has time and space, but his slight frame makes him a bit turnover prone when he operates off the dribble in the lane, limits him when he attempts to finish in a crowd, and makes him a mediocre one-on-one defender.

McCollum's ability to improve his frame and become a bit more dynamic athletically will be integral to his development as a player and prospect. An aggressive and savvy offensive threat for a player his age, McCollum showed the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter as well as the midrange and use his deceptive first step and quick jab steps to get into the lane off the dribble. However, he doesn't have the strength or lateral quickness to defend at a high level, even though he shows a fine effort level on that end of the floor

Despite struggling from the perimeter in Lehigh's surprise tournament appearance, McCollum proved to be a highly effective shooter from beyond the arc. He wasn't overly efficient for stretches last season, but seemed to get into a rhythm in conference play. Ending the season shooting 42.1% from beyond the arc, McCollum proved to be a solid spot-up threat, showing absolutely tremendous touch from the perimeter. McCollum's jump shot is a thing of beauty when he has time and space, he could stand to force less contested shots from the perimeter, as he tends to adjust his mechanics and isn't as efficient with a hand in his face as a result.

As it stands, McCollum gets most of his possessions working off the ball, seldom running the pick and roll, but showing a knack for knocking down shots running off of screens in the sets Lehigh uses to free him up. He also proves to be a pretty capable shooter off the dribble, taking almost as many jump shots from inside the arc as he does from beyond it. A steady ball-handler, McCollum does not have the blow-by quickness to create his own shot at will in one-on-one situations, but does a good job using his defenders momentum to his advantage and often opts to take the ball to the rim in isolation situations.

When McCollum attacks the rim, he fares surprisingly well despite being pretty predictable with his drives and lacking great leaping ability and strength. McCollum flashes a deft floater that could be useful to him down the road when he looks to take his offensive arsenal to the next level. His ability to score around the rim and off the dribble against more athletic defenders is something scouts will inevitably put under the microscope down the load.

Watching McCollum in Lehigh's game against Kansas during the 2010 NCAA Tournament provided an interesting glimpse of what he brings to the table against high level competition. Matching up against Kansas's highly athletic backcourt, McCollum d struggled to get an open look from the perimeter, but got to the line for 13 free throws and held his own despite seeming overmatched physically. Seldom seeing an athletic 7-footer like Cole Aldrich or a guard quite as athletic as Tyshawn Taylor in the Patriot League, McCollum's biggest obstacle moving forward from a NBA perspective will be answering the inevitable questions about the quality of competition he plays on a nightly basis.

Lehigh's non-conference schedule includes games against Penn State and USC this season, offering a few more opportunities to see McCollum compete against BCS competition. Like Seth Curry, McCollum surely could have used his outstanding freshman season to take his game elsewhere, but decided to return to Lehigh. His showdown with Talor Battle will be one worth watching, and it will be interesting to see if McCollum can take the step from small-college star to NBA draft prospect. With three more years to work with, McCollum is a player we'll undoubtedly be revisiting down the road.

#17 Will Coleman, 6'9, Power Forward/Center, Senior, Memphis
7.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.1 turnovers, 64% FG, 62% FT

Joseph Treutlein

After playing his first two seasons at Miami Dade Community College, Will Coleman had a solid first year in his junior season at Memphis, posting modest production numbers but bringing a high motor style of play to the table and doing a lot of dirty work for his team.

Listed at 6'9 but likely at least an inch shorter in reality, Coleman is undersized for either frontcourt position from an NBA perspective, but makes up for it in part by being an explosive athlete with good length and excellent strength for his size.

On the offensive end, Coleman does most of his damage with simple finishes around the rim, be it off cuts, pick-and-rolls, offensive rebounds, or getting out in transition. He has great hands, elevates very well, and is extremely fluid and agile for a frontcourt player, all of which contribute to him being an excellent finisher at the basket. Whether it's going up for a powerful alley-oop dunk off a pick-and-roll or finishing in traffic off his second bounce pulling in an offensive board, Coleman is constantly working around the rim with his high motor and is capable of overpowering most opponents.

Projecting to the next level, his size will make it harder for him to finish in traffic, but on the other hand, the increased spacing and higher reliance on pick-and-rolls could allow Coleman more opportunities to take advantage of his athletic tools away from weakside help.

Coleman also gets a good share of possessions posting up with his back to the basket, where he shows some intriguing ability with rangy dropsteps, quick spin moves, and a developing hook shot with either hand. While Coleman will occasionally pull off a very impressive sequence, he's unpolished in all areas here while also lacking much in terms of instincts or awareness. His size also makes it tough for him to finish on some contested moves, especially his hooks, which don't get much separation. Overall, this is an area where he shows some potential with, but still has a ways to go to succeed at the next level, and his size will always be somewhat of an issue.

Overall in the halfcourt, Coleman is an extremely hard worker with a relentless motor, constantly fighting for post position, crashing the offensive boards, or setting hard screens on the perimeter (albeit extremely fundamentally unsound hard screens). He makes great use of his brute strength and explosiveness to outhustle and overpower the opposition, having no problem doing his team's garbage work.

On the defensive end, Coleman struggles in man-to-man defense in the post, having a very poor fundamental base and not making use of his physical tools the way he could. He doesn't use his forearm well to hold position and doesn't do much in terms of getting proper leverage either, often getting backed down by players who have no business backing him down. When he does get physical, it usually ends up with him fouling his man, as foul trouble is something that kept him off the court at times this past season. His size also leads to him being shot over at times, and to succeed in the pros he will need to do a much better job pushing players farther away from the basket, where their ability to shoot over him will be less problematic.

On the perimeter, Coleman is surprisingly pretty good defensively, having very good lateral quickness, a solid fundamental base, and he moves his feet very well. He does a good job closing out on jump shots and likewise excels blocking shots on drives to the rim whether he's in front of or behind his man, showing good timing. Coleman also pulls in rebounds at a solid rate on both ends of the floor, making good use of his physical tools and showing good timing here as well.

Looking forward, Coleman should be firmly on teams' second round radar in the draft, as his physical tools and high motor are very appealing for a frontcourt player. He'd help himself greatly by developing a respectable mid-range jumper, something he showed nothing of as a junior, as that would make his offensive transition to the NBA much easier, as would any skill improvement on that end of the floor. Cutting down on fouls, getting better at post defense, and continuing to make impact plays on the offensive end should be among Coleman's priorities, and if he can show improvement, he should have a chance to raise his stock, especially with Memphis expected to have a very good season as a team.

#18 George Odufuwa, 6-8, Power Forward, North Texas, Senior
11.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 0.6, steals, 0.9 blocks, 60.4% FG, 59.3% FT

Kyle Nelson

Junior power forward George Odufuwa emerged from obscurity to lead North Texas to a Sun Belt Conference championship and an automatic NCAA-bid. The Arizona State-transfer followed a mediocre sophomore campaign by establishing himself as one of the nation's top rebounders and a nightly double-double threat. As a senior, Odufuwa must prove that his junior season was not a fluke while dispelling the notion that his motor runs hot and cold before he is considered anything other than a fringe prospect.

At 6'8 with a solid 240-pound frame and long arms, Odufuwa has average size for the power forward position. He is a good athlete, however, with excellent mobility in the post and solid explosiveness around the basket. His conditioning could stand to improve, as could his overall strength, but he has the physical tools to play at the next level.

His offense however, leaves much to be desired. He improved considerably as a junior, and he averaged 14.0 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted on 60.4% shooting from the field, but his skill set is raw and he is still quite limited.

His footwork must improve, as he sometimes looks mechanical engaging in even simple drop-step or spin moves in the paint. He also lacks countermoves. His raw ball handling abilities likely hurt him, as well as, and he is often called for traveling violations while spinning towards the basket. His quickness and agility in the post are clear advantages at this level if he could only develop his skill set and basketball IQ enough to utilize them.

Odufuwa is more effective around the rim, however, where his scrappy hustle and nose for the ball result in points off of put-backs and offensive rebounds. While his touch lessens as he moves farther away from the basket, he actually has good form on his jump shot, which should emerge as a more prominent feature in his repertoire next season.

For as efficient as he is on the offensive end, Odufuwa struggled defensively. As evidenced particularly in North Texas's match up against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament, he had trouble sizing up to an NBA-caliber frontcourt. He did not fare much better against lesser competition, where his focus waned and he did very little to distinguish himself, despite his solid lateral quickness and athleticism.

He was impressive on the defensive boards, however, averaging an impressive 9.3 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which ranked 7th among prospects in our database.

Odufuwa showed some potential as a junior, and certainly established himself as one of the NCAA's top rebounders, but he must make serious strides as a senior on both ends of the floor before he is considered to be a legitimate prospect. He will have to prove himself against NBA-caliber big men, which makes an early-season game at Kansas essential. Otherwise, Odufuwa should find success in the D-League or overseas, where he can develop his skill set and learn how to use his size and athleticism to his advantage.

#19 Andrew Nicholson, 6'9, Junior, Center, St. Bonaventure
16.4 Points, 7.1 Rebounds, 1.8 Blocks, 1.8 Turnovers, 56.4% FG, 76% FT

Having profiled Nicholson late last season, we've elected to wait and see what type of progress he's made with a fresh perspective in a few months, rather than rehashing many of the same comments made last year based off his 2009-2010 game footage.

#20 Gary Flowers, 6'8, Senior, Power Forward/Small Forward , Southern Mississippi
15 Points, 8.3 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists, 1.8 Blocks, 2.5 Turnovers, 46.5% FG, 32.9% 3P, 66.3% FT

Matt Williams

A former Oklahoma State player who went the Junior College route before landing at Southern Mississippi, Gary Flowers made a strong impression in his first season of Division I college basketball. Leading the Golden Eagles in scoring and rebounding last season, the senior will be relied upon heavily to keep Southern Miss in the top-half of Conference USA. After declaring for the draft in 2009 before returning to the college ranks, Flowers has some intriguing NBA tools,

Flowers's production last season was predicated on his tremendous athletic profile. Standing 6'8, Flowers has an excellent first step and well above average leaping ability. Very fluid in the open floor, the Dallas native has the athleticism to play the small forward position at the NBA level, and while he's made some strides as a perimeter player since his high school days, he's still a bit of a tweener. Fortunately for Flowers, he has an absolutely massive wingspan, allowing him to play considerably taller than he is list and retain some potential as a face-up power forward on the next level.

The progress Flowers made on the Junior College level was apparent when watching him operate from the perimeter and face up in the post last season. While his handle is still very loose, he has absolutely no trouble creating his own shot and getting to the rim from the perimeter. His excellent first step allows him to get his man off balance, and he's strong and athletic enough to finish at the rim when his man can't recover and he's developed some quick spin moves that lack polish, but afford him enough space to get his shot off.

Flowers's ability to score in one-on-one situations only adds to what he brings to the table as a finisher around the rim. An outstanding catch-and-finish threat and offensive rebounder thanks to his long arms and leaping ability, Flowers can make an impact around the rim in half-court and transition situations alike.

The biggest flaw in Flowers's game at the moment is his poor shot selection. Though he can get his shot off at will, Flowers tends to settle for far too many contested jumpers. His efficiency with his feet set on the perimeter has improved immensely, but he remains erratic at best off the dribble. Lacking a consistent release point, Flowers's ability to become a reliable perimeter shooter will help dictate what position he's best suited to play at the next level.

Defensively, Flowers uses his length effectively to rebound and block shots, but lacks discipline, gets beat of the dribble regularly, and doesn't show great intensity. Seldom getting in a defensive stance, Flowers is a capable defender on the few occasions that he appears dialed in. Able to block shots by virtue of his length alone, Flowers would be well served to focus on his defense next season, as he has all the physical tools to be a quality defender on the next level.

A bit of a mixed bag in his first year at Southern Miss, Flowers has the physical tools to play in the NBA. If he can become a better defender and add the shooting ability that would allow him transition to the three position full time, he could become a more interesting prospect. A candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Flowers's athleticism makes him a player worth keeping an eye on as he enters his final season of eligibility.

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