Top NBA Draft Prospects in Non-BCS Conferences, Part Two (#11-15)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in Non-BCS Conferences, Part Two (#11-15)
Nov 02, 2010, 12:34 pm
Continuing our coverage of the top returning NBA prospects in Non-BCS conferences, we profile Butler's Shelvin Mack, Rice's Arsalan Kazemi, Dayton's Chris Wright, Juan Fernandez of Temple, and Robert Sacre of Gonzaga.

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

#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, 6'3, Junior, Point Guard, Butler
14.1 Points, 3.7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2.1 Turnovers, 1.4 Steals, 45% FG, 73% FT, 39% 3P

Walker Beeken

Shelvin Mack enters his junior season at Butler as a well-known commodity following the surprise run by the Bulldogs to the national title game in 2009-2010. Mack was a key player and all around contributor for Butler as a sophomore, and he'll have the opportunity to play even a more featured role this season with the departure of Gordon Hayward to the NBA.

Standing at 6'3” and weighing in at about 215 pounds, Mack has good size for an NBA point guard prospect, but he played primarily as a two guard for Butler last season, sharing the ball-handling responsibilities with backcourt mate Ronald Nored. And while Mack displays a good feel for the game and solid decision-making, he is not a prototypical pass-first point guard. Some of this could be attributed to his role at Butler, and the team's lack of other creators offensively, but Mack plays with a scorer's mentality, focusing on finding shots for himself. This isn't to say that he appears to be selfish at all though, as he does most of his damage within the flow of the offense. He does a nice job making the correct read on pick & rolls, hits the open man on drive-and kick opportunities, and he doesn't hesitate to make the extra pass when needed. Regardless, NBA scouts will likely have questions about his ability to run a team from the point guard position and become more of a facilitator.

Most of Mack's game on the offensive end is built around his perimeter jump shot. His deep range makes defenders play him well out on the perimeter, which sets him up to take what the defense gives him and opens up opportunities for his dribble game. He shoots the ball with great confidence and a quick trigger, and showed during the Bulldogs tournament run that he's willing and able to knock down shots in clutch situations. Mack actually seems more comfortable shooting the ball off the dribble then with his feet set, as evidenced by the poor 30% he shot last season on catch and shoot jumpers. He hit 39% overall from behind the 3 point line last season, up from 33% as a freshman, but there is still room for improvement.

As a creator off the dribble, Mack has just average speed and explosiveness, and lacks a lightning-quick first step to blow by his man, but he plays the game at a nice pace and effectively changes speeds off the dribble to find openings for dribble penetration. He has a very good mid-range game, where he has the ability to smoothly pull up off the dribble going either direction. He also does an excellent job of utilizing his size and strength to create space and has a knack for finding ways to get his shot off in the lane and mid-range area, despite his lack of elevation.

Defensively, Mack is able to cover all three perimeter positions at the college level, and he was an integral part of Butler's stingy defense last season. While his athleticism is nothing to get excited about, he has a big, strong frame with broad shoulders and long arms that enables him to defend bigger players, as well as help compensate for quickness disadvantages he faces against more explosive point guards. When projecting him as a defender at the NBA level, Mack is the type of guard who could be used in different backcourt combinations, because of his ability to potentially defend either guard slot, depending on matchups.

After making a name for himself in last season's NCAA tournament and impressing many who saw him this summer with USA basketball, Mack will have plenty of eyes on him this season as a junior. He should be one of the most complete guards in the college game this season, and while he may not necessarily be an NBA caliber athlete or a pure point guard, he has a toughness and confidence to his game that enables him to be more effective on both ends than one would think at first glance. If he's able excel in his role as the go-to guy this season in Hayward's absence, and make teams believe that he's capable of running a team from the point guard position, Mack will no doubt earn some fans amongst NBA scouts and decision-makers.

#12 Arsalan Kazemi, 6'8, Forward, Rice
10.3 Points, 9.1 Rebounds, 1.2 Assists, 1.9 Turnovers, 1.6, Steals, 0.9 Blocks, 53.0% FG, 61.0% FT

Kyle Nelson

Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian to play NCAA Division I basketball, was a highly regarded high school player who received offers from Louisville, Maryland, and Missouri before deciding to attend academic powerhouse and Conference USA bottom-dweller Rice University. After a standout freshman campaign as a member of Conference USA All-Freshman team, he excelled over the summer as a member of the Iranian national team at the FIBA World Championships, including a 14-point, five-rebound, and five-steal performance against the United States.

Kazemi played power forward as a freshman, but has the physical profile of a combo-forward at 6'8 with a long and wiry frame. He is also a good athlete, showing excellent quickness in the open floor and solid explosiveness around the basket. He plays with intensity and aggressiveness, as well, which allows him to maximize his athletic ability.

Kazemi averaged 14.8 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted, but he ultimately proved to be fairly limited, scoring mostly as a result of his energy and athleticism. He lacks skill in the post even though he played a majority of his minutes at the power forward position. His shaky ball handling ability and footwork rendered him largely ineffective against bigger defensive and, though his quickness helps somewhat, he will likely continue to struggle at the next level. He also failed to show much ability to run the pick-and-roll.

Improving his ball handling should also open up his perimeter game, where he showed potential with his solid first step and explosiveness, but little comfort or consistency. He rarely took a jump shot, but as evidenced by his mediocre 61.0% FT, he could certainly stand to improve in this area, as well. He does excel, however, at moving without the ball in half court sets, where he can cut to the basket and finish. He is also an excellent finisher in transition.

He is at his best, however, scoring off of offensive rebounds. He averages 4.7 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, largely due to his excellent hands and instincts. After grabbing a rebound, he does a solid job of finishing immediately or kicking the ball out to open teammates on the perimeter.

Kazemi projects as a solid perimeter defender at the next level, but he struggled guarded power forwards. He was unable to hold his ground in the post against bigger and stronger players even if plays with energy and looks to be fundamentally sound. On the perimeter, he shows solid lateral quickness and active hands, which allow him to stay in front of his man or to affect shots even after he is beaten off of the dribble. He also uses his quickness and athleticism to his advantage on the defensive boards, where the tune of 8.3 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted.

Though Kazemi is very raw offensively and is stuck between the perimeter and the post, he looks as though he could develop into a solid NBA prospect in the future. His versatility, athleticism, and energy are After a successful summer, he should look to build on his solid freshman campaign while showing scouts that he can translate his energy into wins for the hapless Rice Owls.

#13 Chris Wright, 6'8, Senior, Forward, Dayton
13.7 Points, 7.3 Rebounds, 1.2 Assists, 1 Steal, 1.4 Blocks, 2.4 Turnovers, 50.1% FG, 21.1% 3P, 67.6% FT

Matt Williams

A player we've written about extensively over the past few seasons, Wright is one of the most explosive athletes in college basketball. His physical tools allowed him to make an instant impact as a freshman in the A10, and while he's had some excellent games over the years and seems to have made some small improvements to his game, Wright's weaknesses remain consistent with what we've noted in the past. After declaring for the draft last spring, Wright determined that he wasn't projected where he wanted to be and that an additional year of development on the college level wouldn't be a bad thing. There is no denying that he has the physical tools to play in the NBA, but his ability to help the Flyers build on their NIT Championship last season and show that he can become efficient from the perimeter will play a key role in draft stock heading into next summer.

As we've mentioned time and time again, Wright is an elite physical specimen. He's quick, strong, and is capable of effortlessly playing well above the rim. Unfortunately, his role has stagnated and he hasn't developed the perimeter repertoire that would allow him to exploit his athleticism as a full time small forward. A bit of a tweener at this point, Wright's physical profile would look even more promising if he developed the reliable shooting ability that would put him in position to slide over to the small forward spot full time.

Wright's jump shot remains a major work in progress. Though he made some clear strides from his sophomore to his junior year in his ability to shoot of the dribble, the Trotwood-Madison product still has a long way to go. His form is a bit more consistent than it appeared to be when he arrived at Dayton, but Wright still forces some difficult looks from the midrange, allows his form to vary when he has a hand in his face, and is not a serious threat to catch and shoot from beyond the arc. His ability to knock down shots with range will be essential to his ability to exploit his solid first step down the road.

While his jumper will be important to his NBA prospects, Wright does most of his damage inside the arc at the moment. He shows a good activity level working the high post and the wings against zone and man defenses alike, is able to attack seams with simple straight-line drives off the bounce, and is a highlight waiting to happen every time he gets some room to gather himself around the basket in catch-and-finish situations. Though Wright could stand to become a more capable ball-handler, his biggest issue around the rim is one that we identified during the NCAA Tournament back in 2009: he tends to take a lot of short range shots moving away from the rim when defenders deny his penetration. Should Wright force defenders to respect his range or become a bit more reliable from the midrange, he could take a lot of pressure off of his ability to make high degree of difficulty shots around the rim.

Defensively, Wright has continued to make some subtle strides, doing a better job keeping the action in front of him and using his athleticism to make an impact as a result. He was more physical for stretches last season, and had some tremendous defensive performances because of it, but needs to bring that same effort every night. Already a great rebounder thanks to his physical tools, Wright certainly has intriguing defensive upside at the next level.

Wright's ability to parlay that upside into a selection in next summer's NBA draft will be heavily reliant on his ability to define his position and have a breakout year. He's seemingly been treading water for some time apart from some incremental improvements in his skill-level, and a big step forward would do wonders for him, as his athleticism by itself makes him an interesting prospect. With one year left to make an impression, Wright is definitely a player to keep tabs on.

#14 Juan Fernandez, 6'5, Junior, Point Guard, Temple
12.6 Points, 3.6 Assists, 1.9 Turnovers, 2.4 Rebounds, 42.7% FG, 45.3% 3P, 84.7% FT

Having profiled Fernandez fairly late in the 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.

#15 Robert Sacre, 7'0, Junior, Center, Gonzaga
10.3 Points, 5.4 Rebounds, 1.9 Blocks, 2.0 Turnovers, 52.6% FG, 62.9% FT

Having profiled Sacre fairly late in the 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.

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