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 come to any long-term conclusions.
Top 20 NBA Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part One
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part Two
#1 Marcus Morris
#2 Alec Burks
#3 Wally Judge
#4 Jordan Hamilton
#5 Elijah Johnson
#6 LaceDarius Dunn
#7 Laurence Bowers
#8 Quincy Acy
#9 Markieff Morris
#10 Tyshawn Taylor
#11 Jacob Pullen, 6-0, Senior, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Kansas State
19.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.5 turnovers, 42% FG, 82% FT, 40%3P
Kansas State's Jacob Pullen is coming off of a breakout junior season in 2009-2010 where he increased his scoring average to 19.3 ppg, up from 13.9 ppg as a sophomore, and helped lead the Wildcats to a 29 win season and an Elite Eight appearance. He'll be back as a senior to build on that success and make the most of his final chance to impress NBA scouts.
Standing at 6'0 with just an average build and subpar athleticism by NBA standards, Pullen lacks the physical tools of a prototypical NBA point guard. When you add in the fact that he played primarily as a shooting guard last season (averaging a negative PPR and an unimpressive 1.34/1 assist to turnover ratio), Pullen has even more to overcome to establish himself as a legitimate NBA Draft prospect.
With the departure of point guard Denis Clemente, Pullen should have his chance to play some point this season, but he is far from a traditional pass-first point guard. His game is built on his perimeter shot (76% of his shot attempts last season were jump shots), which he shoots with deep range, a quick trigger, and plenty of confidence. He is proficient at shooting off the catch and either direction off the dribble, and his biggest asset is the fearlessness he displays as a shooter. Though this occasionally leads to some poor shot selection, Pullen relishes the opportunity to take and make clutch shots in key situations, and he came up big on multiple occasions for Kansas State last season.
As a creator off the dribble, Pullen struggles to make plays for himself and his teammates in isolation situations, as he doesn't possess the explosiveness or advanced ball-handling skills to get by his man or create space for his jumper. As the ball-handler in pick-and-rolls, Pullen lacks the speed and playmaking instincts to be a well-rounded threat, but he does a nice job of reading the screen and defenders to free himself enough to get off his jumper. When attacking the basket, Pullen's lack of size and elevation limits him as a finisher, as evidenced by the poor 31.9% he shot last season on shot attempts around the basket, and the 45% he shot from 2-point range. He did get to the free throw line at an excellent rate, but it's questionable how well this part of his game will translate to the NBA level.
On the defensive end, Pullen's biggest strength is his quick hands, which he utilized to average 1.8 steals per game last season, often stripping his man off the dribble. The downside to this is that he tends to reach on occasion, which he can't afford to do, as he doesn't have the length or lateral quickness to stay in front of the more explosive point guards. Pullen plays with good energy and toughness defensively, but there will definitely be questions marks about his ability to defend at the NBA level, due to his limited physical tools.
This season will be Pullen's final shot to make an impression on NBA scouts and plant his name firmly in draft discussions. While we have seen there is a place in the NBA for undersized combo guards with deep range and good scoring instincts, the niche is a very small one. Pullen's competitiveness and production at the college level should definitely earn him some looks, but his lack of physical attributes will make it an uphill battle.
#12 Jamar Samuels, 6-7, Junior, Small Forward/Power Forward, Kansas State
11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks 54% FG, 37% 3FG, 56% FT
Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels was expected to take a big step forward as a sophomore after an intriguing freshman season. Though there were certainly bright spots along the way and his contributions on both sides of the ball were invaluable to Kansas State's Final Four run, Samuels's development was not as rapid as expected and left quite a few questions unanswered. Athletic and scrappy 6'7 combo-forwards have been able to carve a niche in the NBA, however, and given Samuels's potential, there is much to look forward to from a scouting perspective next season.
Samuels once again excelled at scoring around the basket, either after rebounding his teammates' missed shots or by driving aggressively into the paint. His limited ball handling abilities continue to hinder his slashing abilities, but his size, strength, and athleticism suggest that he could develop into a proficient slasher with continued improvement in this area. He is also quick in the open floor, which, along with his explosiveness, allows him to finish well in transition.
While he likely lacks the size to score in the NBA post and his touch around the basket is suspect, his aggressive attitude, excellent length, and nose for the ball help him overcome his below-average skill level at the collegiate level and is an asset at any level. He does a great job of drawing contact, as well, which is evident in his 9.2 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He should, however, look to improve upon his subpar 56.3% FT.
Though Samuels showed very little ability operating from mid-range, he improved considerably as a spot-up shooter last season and converted 37.3% of his attempts. Though 51 shots attempts like a small sample size, it is a significant increase from the seven shots that he attempted as a freshman. Samuels is a streaky shooter at this point and is far better when he has time to set his feet, but he showed a high release point and a far more fluid shooting motion than he did as a freshman.
On the defensive end, Samuels once again played with energy and aggressiveness, utilizing his length and athleticism to harass his man in the paint and on the perimeter. Samuels does not have elite lateral quickness, but he has solid awareness and good anticipation abilities, which allow him to defend against quicker and smaller players. At this point, it is essential that he prove to scouts that he can consistently guard multiple positions, particularly on the perimeter, as his defense at times last season was stellar.
It is clear that Samuels has NBA potential and, at times last season, skills that will translate favorably to the next level. At this point, however, he must prove that he can play a role at the next level, primarily as a versatile defensive specialist and a spot-up scorer similar to James Singleton. After all, Samuels is a prospect for his energy level, athleticism, and defensive abilities and it is more important that he excels in these areas than to focus on expanding his scoring abilities from the perimeter and mid-range. Consistency is the key, however, and as Samuels prepares for his junior season at Kansas State, scouts will be watching to see whether or not flashes of potential can finally coalesce into dominance at the collegiate level.
#13 Thomas Robinson, 6-8, Sophomore, Power Forward, Kansas
7.2 minutes, 2.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, .3 assists, .8 turnovers, .5 blocks, 49% FG, 40% 3P
A marginal player averaging just 7.2 minutes per game in his freshman season, Thomas Robinson struggled to get playing time on a loaded Kansas squad that was ranked #1 overall in the country for much of the year.
While Robinson is unlikely to be one of Kansas' top options this upcoming season, he is regardless a prospect to keep an eye on down the road, as he's a physically gifted player who was a consensus top-30 high school recruit. He's got good size at around 6-8, sports a chiseled NBA body, possesses a nice wingspan and is an outstanding all-around athlete.
Robinson is a limited offensive player based on what he showed in the minutes he did receive last season. He gets most of his shots by crashing the offensive glass, running the floor in transition, and cutting to the basket, taking advantage of his strong frame and terrific leaping ability around the rim. His ball-handling skills are very limited and he shows nothing in the ways of a jump shot, turning the ball over on 26% of his used possessions and converting an abysmal 39.5% of his free throws last season.
He does possess somewhat of a post-up game, showing some nice footwork around the basket and the ability to just outmuscle and out-quick opponents inside the paint. He gets to the free throw line at a great rate relative to his playing time for all these reasons above, which is something to keep track of down the road.
Robinson is quite an asset for a college basketball team to have on the defensive end thanks to his terrific physical attributes and aggressive style of play. He brought great energy in limited minutes off the bench for Kansas last year, mostly at the center position behind Cole Aldrich. He's a superb per-minute rebounder who crashes the glass with reckless abandon, especially on the offensive end. He also blocks shots at a terrific rate and gets in the passing lanes quite well, but is extremely foul prone at the same time.
Last season was mostly about gaining experience amongst Kansas' crowded frontcourt, and it's likely that this year we'll see much of the same from Robinson considering the type of talent the Jayhawks return. Depending on the progress of his skill-level on the offensive end, it might take some time before Robinson is able to establish himself as an immediate NBA candidate. Regardless, he's a player that NBA scouts will want to continue to keep track of over the next few seasons.
#14 Curtis Kelly, 6'8, Senior, Power Forward, Kansas State
11.5 Points, 6.2 Rebounds, 1.6 Assists, 2.6 Turnovers, 2 Blocks, 56.5% FG, 66.7% FT
A major player during Kansas State's outstanding 2010 tournament run, UConn transfer Curtis Kelly had a breakout junior season. After seeing limited playing time in his first two seasons in the NCAA and struggling with his consistency on the court and in the classroom, Kelly has blossomed under Frank Martin. With one season of eligibility remaining, Kelly will have a chance to build on what he and his team accomplished last season and position himself for the upcoming draft. Though he's come a long way since his days under Jim Calhoun, Kelly has some clearly defined weaknesses than he'll need to work on moving forward.
A key aspect of Kelly's progress since his transfer has been his body weight. During his time at UConn, Kelly gained a considerable amount of bulk, developing some bad habits that weren't helping his efforts to get his career with the Huskies pointed in the right direction. Since enrolling at Kansas State, Kelly has worked himself into considerably better condition, and while he could still stand to add some muscle to his frame to help him score down low at the next level, he showed last season that he can make an impact on the college level with his excellent wingspan, solid athleticism, and ability to run the floor. Athletically, Kelly wouldn't stand out against NBA competition, since he lacks a degree of explosiveness, but his length is definitely going to be an asset for him down the road.
Despite not showing great burst in his first step, Kelly's skill level allows him to create opportunities for himself on the offensive end. Almost a third of Kelly's touches come in the post according to Synergy Sports Technology, and he couples an ability to score over either shoulder with good footwork and a suddenness that lets him to open up space to get his shot off from in close. Showing exceptional touch on his jump hook and using quick jabs and rip throughs to get his man off balance when facing up, Kelly shot just under 50% in post-up situations last season, ranking him amongst the top players in college basketball in that category.
When he isn't going to work in the post, Kelly proves capable of making an impact on the offensive end in a number of other ways. A very capable finisher thanks to his long arms and willingness to take contact, Kelly does a good job crashing the offensive glass, running the floor in transition, and putting himself in position to benefit from his teammates' penetration, getting to the free throw line at an outstanding rate.
That helps him compensate for the fact that he is one of the more turnover prone players in the NCAA per-40 minutes. Putting the ball on the floor almost every time he looks to score on the block, Kelly isn't a poor ball-handler, but turns the ball over because of how frequently he operates quite a bit in traffic and the periodic erratic passes he throws when he can't create an opening. It's clear that Kelly's basketball IQ can't be described as anything more than just average.
As much as Kelly could stand to improve his decision-making, it would be just as beneficial for him to shore up his perimeter shooting ability in the long run. Kelly has range out to 17-feet, and has fairly solid touch and consistency with time and his feet set. His shooting mechanics break down when he has a hand in his face, though, and he tends to drift whenever he looks to shoot off the dribble. With some raw pieces in place, Kelly would benefit from some extra work on his shot, as it would certainly add to what he could bring to a team at the next level and help with his improved, but still questionable free throw shooting.
Defensively, Kelly showed that he has the tools to make an impact at the college level. He doesn't have great lateral quickness, but his length allows him to effectively contest shots. Kelly has no issue sacrificing his body on the defensive end, and is amongst the top per-40 shot blockers in our database. Kelly's biggest weakness is his inability to contain penetration, something that will be much more difficult for him to mask at the next level, meaning his ability to add weight and shore up his rebounding and post defense will be that much more beneficial. He's also just an average defensive rebounder, which is something NBA teams will surely want to see him improve on.
With Denis Clemente moving on, Curtis Kelly is a strong candidate to use some of the possessions he left behind. If Kelly can show improved consistency as a shooter, continue to score at the rim, and maintain his focus on and off the court consistently, he could build on last season's breakout year and put himself firmly on the draft radar. Considering that last season was his first seeing heavy minutes, his play this season will be that much more important to his draft stock. Despite his shortcomings, Kelly is a player to keep an eye on as Kansas State looks to make another tournament run this season.
#15 Kim English, 6'6, SG/SF, Junior, Missouri
14.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.1 turnovers, 39% FG, 73% FT, 37% 3PT
Coming off a solid freshman season, Kim English came back as a sophomore and upped his production across the board, partially a product of a 50% increase in minutes and partially a product of taking on a larger role in the team's offense after the departures of DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons. From a skills standpoint, English made some subtle improvements here and there, but is predominantly the same player we profiled a year ago.
On the offensive end, English's game is incredibly centered around his jump shot, as 83% of his shot attempts in the half-court come outside the paint, and at this stage of his development it's the only skill he has that is really near NBA-level. As a catch and shooter, English has great form and is lethal with range out to the NBA three-point line, but there are multiple things holding him back as a shooter overall, as he only shoots 37% from three and 39% from the field.
For a player whose best chance at this stage is to make it in the NBA is as a niche shooter, English's efficiency numbers are far behind what they need to be, and there are a few things he could improve on to make him a more dynamic scorer. While English does an excellent job in catch-and-shoot situations, his efficiency falls off notably in non-static situations, be it coming around screens or pulling up off the dribble, stemming primarily from him not being able to properly contain his momentum when moving side to side. Getting a stronger base on his shot and better holding his balance should eventually lead to increased accuracy and eventually make him a much more proficient outside threat.
Beyond his jump shot, English shows flashes in all areas of his game, but struggles to consistently contribute at this level, having a very unpolished all-around offensive arsenal. His ball-handling skills are just average, as he struggles to change directions with the ball and doesn't have much of a second gear.
In terms of finishing, English struggles on the rare occasion he gets all the way to the basket, not having the strength or explosiveness to do much of anything, often relying on throwing something in the general direction of the rim or getting bailed out by contact. He has actually done a good job developing a somewhat formidable mid-range game this season, however, showing flashes of floaters and runners in the lane with nice touch, but this isn't something he's consistent with yet. He shoots a very poor 41% inside the arc, which is not what you want to see from someone who is amongst the top-15 players in college basketball in field goal attempts per-40.
While English does a very good job moving without the ball to get open, helping his offense's floor spacing and general flow, he doesn't make the same kind of contributions in the passing game, not showing much in terms of court vision or instincts and often deciding what he's going to do a few seconds earlier than he should. To be fair, he doesn't appear to be a selfish or even reckless player, but passing it something that he still could improve greatly on.
Defensively, English shows a pretty good fundamental base, showing good awareness in his team's zone and often getting in a good fundamental stance at the start of plays, but he's prone to being beat laterally frequently, in part due to below average lateral quickness and in part due to a tendency to let up effort as plays go on. Adding strength to his narrow frame should help in this area.
Looking forward, English should have every chance to expand his game this season for the Tigers, as he's already the team's leading scorer and their offense (43rd in the country according to kenpom.com) has much room to improve. As an NBA prospect, developing more of an efficient all-around game or becoming more proficient with shooting, his bread and butter, will be critical to his stock down the road, as the NBA doesn't have much room for shooting specialists who make less than 40% of their 3-point attempts.