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 NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12, Part One
#1 Marcus Morris
#2 Alec Burks
#3 Wally Judge
#4 Jordan Hamilton
#5 Elijah Johnson
#6 LaceDarius Dunn, 6'4, Shooting Guard, Senior, Baylor
19.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.5 turnovers, 45% FG, 86% FT, 42% 3PT
Coming off a very strong junior season where he averaged nearly 20 points per game for the highly successful Baylor Bears, LaceDarius Dunn has steadily improved his production his three years in college and has firmly established himself as one of the most dangerous shooter/scorers in the country. With last season's teammates Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh both moving on, even more responsibilities will fall on Dunn's shoulders as a senior, and how he responds to that change will be critical to his stock.
Dunn's offensive game is highly centered around his jump shot, as by the fact that he took 242 jumpers in the half-court this past season compared to just 79 shots around the basket. Despite taking a very high percentage of his shots either creating in isolation or catching and shooting off screens, Dunn scores with excellent efficiency on his jumpers, to the tune of 1.13 points per shot this past season, and converting 42% of his 3-point attempts.
Dunn has an extremely quick trigger on his shot and is capable of getting it off even when contested, as he does a very good job using subtle moves to get separation. His release speed is actually somewhat helped by the severe lack of elevation he gets on his shot, which doesn't affect his ability to get off good looks at this level, but could be more problematic in the pros given his being undersized for a two guard. Dunn also does an excellent job of staying on balance and getting his legs beneath him for his shots, getting a lot of quality looks out of isolation situations and converting difficult shots at a very high rate.
On the downside, however, Dunn is prone to stretches of forcing the issue with his jumper, and his mechanics break down from time to time with him settling for off-balanced, contested shots and pulling up early in the shot clock unnecessarily. His raw ability often allows him to get away with this at the college level, but this is something that would need to be scaled back in the NBA.
In terms of attacking the basket, Dunn is mostly a mixed bag. Frequently getting the ball high on the wing well behind the three-point line, Dunn usually has a ways to go to get to the rim, while his first step and advanced ball-handling skills are just average at best. He slashes almost exclusively left (nearly 85% of the time), which is something NBA advanced scouts will pick up on very quickly and could make him somewhat one-dimensional.
On the positive side, once he does penetrate to the lane, he shows an excellent combination of touch, body control, and a penchant for absorbing contact around the basket, which allow him to score well in the lane. Dunn's athleticism is something we undersold a bit in our last write-up of him two years ago, as he possesses below-average quickness and explosiveness for an NBA two guard, though it's something he's still working on consistently utilizing in his game.
Off the ball, Dunn does a very good job moving to open space on the floor and coming around screens for jumpers, while the Bears also semi-regularly run backdoor alley-oops for him, which he shows good reactive leaping ability on. In transition, Dunn is dangerous once he gets a full head of steam, as he changes directions very well with the ball and shows nice creativity finishing around the rim. That said, he too often relies on his jumper in this area of his game, not taking advantage of his ability in open space frequently enough.
While Dunn tripled his assists per game average this season to 1.9, he still is a below average playmaker for a shooting guard and any transition to point guard or even combo guard in the future appears extremely unlikely. The one area he should focus on improving with his passing is operating out of pick-and-rolls, as he doesn't show much willingness to look for others in these situations currently, but is something he'll likely be asked to do in the NBA, while bringing the threat of the pass to the table should also open up his own offense some.
Defensively, Dunn shows just average lateral quickness for a shooting guard, and doesn't always appear to put a great effort in either, showing somewhat of a laid-back demeanor on this end of the floor. He is very upright in his stance and is prone to being beat by quicker players in isolation at times, while bigger players are capable of shooting over him. Dunn continues to struggle defending the pick-and-roll at times, not being very aggressive fighting through screens. Considering his below average physical attributes, this is something he'll have to work much harder on if he's to establish himself as a solid first round prospect.
Looking forward, Dunn should be firmly in draft discussions this year if he keeps on the pace he's set in his first three college seasons, as he's an extremely dynamic scorer with terrific instincts for putting the ball in the net. Despite his extremely unorthodox style of play, and underwhelming physical tools, undersized shooting guards have proven over the past few years they can find niches at the NBA level, particularly if they can make shots from beyond the arc at a high rate.
Continuing to improve his ball-handling and passing abilities should be among his priorities, and how he adjusts to life without Tweety Carter running the Baylor offense should be interesting to watch, as it could put even more shot creation burden on him, which will make it tough for him to find a good balance, as projecting to the NBA he would be expected to score much more in the flow of a team's offense.
The fact that he'll be 24 by the time his NBA rookie season kicks off will likely work against him in the draft process as well, as his upside is surely be deemed to be fairly limited considering his other limitations.
#7 Laurence Bowers, 6-8, Junior, Power Forward, Missouri
10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 turnovers, 1.1 steals, 1.4 blocks, 56% FG, 65% FT, 40% 3P
Having profiled Bowers fairly late in the season with a comprehensive scouting report, 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.
#8 Quincy Acy, 6-7, Junior, Power Forward, Baylor
9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1.3 turnovers, 0.5 steals, 0.8 blocks, 69.7% FG, 71.6% FT
Baylor junior Quincy Acy does not make much of an impression at first glance, especially considering the fact that he plays in the post. He stands somewhere between 6'6 and 6'7, and though he has a decent frame for his size, Acy is definitely undersized at the collegiate level. He is an elite athlete, however, fluid and quick in the open floor with outstanding explosiveness around the basket. Acy would be an elite athlete in the NBA and he is a highlight-reel waiting to happen whenever he gets the ball in the paint or in transition.
Athleticism defines Acy's offensive game, as the junior is one of college basketball's most prolific, if not most emphatic, finishers around the basket. He shoots an absurd 69.7% FG, ranking second among all prospects in our database last season. He tries to dunk every time he receives the ball inside of 10 feet, displaying his outstanding explosiveness, solid hands, and aggressiveness around the basket. Acy rarely creates offense for himself and was not the focal point of Baylor's offense, but his scrappy attitude and willingness to move without the ball in his hands created many of his offensive opportunities.
While Acy scores off of offensive rebounds and put backs, he played very well off of Baylor's guards, finding over 54% of his offensive possessions cutting to the basket, in pick-and-roll situations, and in transition. Acy's power game often obscures the fact that he is a very good team player, a skill that allows him to find shots despite often being the fourth or fifth most talented offensive player on the floor.
Acy did show some potential on the offensive end last season. Though his footwork is still raw, he has quick feet, which coupled with his athleticism, allow him to finish around stronger and taller defenders. He also must improve his ball handling ability as, at times last season; he showed some potential putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket. Moving away from the basket, Acy took more jump shots this season and improved his free throw shooting percentage to a respectable 71.6%. Between the curious lack of elevation and inconsistent mechanics that he displays on spot-up opportunities, however, Acy still must improve considerably in order to develop the reputation as a solid shooter at this level.
While Acy likely has to develop into a versatile defensive stopper to make the NBA, he is just average at this point. Despite his athleticism, Acy's lateral quickness looks just above average, even if his quick hands allow him to do some damage face-guarding his man on the perimeter. His awareness on the defensive end is not spectacular, either, and he misses quite a few rotations, leaving his man the space and time to shoot. He does a better job of defending in the post where his explosiveness and strength help him guard bigger post players, especially around the basket. Improving his focus will go a long way in helping him on the defensive end, however, as now he is relying on his athleticism as opposed to working on his fundamentals. For Acy to make it in the NBA he must show that he can defend multiple positions, particularly on the perimeter switching on the pick and roll, at this point he has not yet done that.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that Acy has played only two years of college basketball on an incredibly talented team. Given his improvement, especially on the offensive end, from his freshman season, his future seems bright. While his increased comfort on the offensive end is nice to see, Acy has the potential to be a legitimate prospect because of his energy, athleticism, and relentless playing style. First, he must prove to scouts that he can be as effective and aggressive on the defensive end as he is on offense. Touches will once again be scarce, as Baylor's roster is as deep and talented as ever before, but Acy must continue to be productive and find ways to contribute without the ball in his hands if he wants to prove that he can play a role at the next level.
#9 Markieff Morris, 6-10, Junior, Power Forward/Center, Kansas
6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 1.0 blocks, 57% FG, 62% FT
With the departures of starters Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, and Xavier Henry, the Kansas Jayhawks will need other players to step up and fill the void in 2010-2011. The loss of Aldrich in particular, presents a big opportunity for junior Markieff Morris, as he will now have a chance to earn more minutes in the frontcourt alongside his twin brother, Marcus. Playing time won't be handed to him on the loaded Jayhawks roster though, as sophomore big men Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey will also be competing for minutes, as well redshirt senior Mario Little.
As we've mentioned before, Markieff is slightly bigger and more explosive than his twin brother and is able to swing between the power forward and center position at the college level, but so far Marcus has shown to be the better all-around player and has had the more productive college career. Markieff showed signs of promise in his own right last season though, albeit in fairly limited minutes (17.6 mpg in 2009-2010).
The biggest improvement from his freshman to sophomore season was his ability to finish around the rim, an area where we noted he really struggled in his first season at Kansas. He improved his field goal percentage from 44.8% to 56.6% as he became much more efficient at scoring on some of the simple opportunities he commonly missed as a freshman, after establishing good position and sealing his man on ball reversals.
Another factor in his improved field goal percentage was his shot selection and accuracy with his jump shot. According to the data at our disposal, he connected on a solid 44% of his jumpers, showing improved range, and displaying that he has the potential to be utilized in pick-and-pop situations at the NBA level.
With his back to the basket, Morris isn't much of a threat at this point in his career. He does have a right-handed jump hook that he'll shoot when turning to his left shoulder, but he doesn't convert with much accuracy. When turning to his right shoulder, Morris lacks the confidence in his left hand, which often leads to awkward shot attempts with his right hand going into the defender, or difficult shots fading away from the basket.
Another area offensively where Morris still has quite a bit of work to do is taking care of the ball. He turns the ball over at a high rate for a big man (on nearly a quarter of his used possessions), mainly due to attempting to put the ball on the floor in traffic, and throwing some sloppy kick out passes. He'll need to focus on getting more comfortable in the post and feeling defenders collapsing on him to become more efficient.
On the defensive end, Morris has a great combination of size and strength to go along with good feet and lateral quickness, which gives him the potential to excel defensively against NBA power forwards. He's a solid rebounder and shot blocker as well, but his biggest weakness right now is that he fouls at a very high rate. His 5.6 fouls per forty minutes pace adjusted is down from 7.2 his freshman season, but it still ranked him as the 8th most foul prone player in our database.
In terms of his NBA potential, this should season should be very telling for Morris. He made some great strides as a player from his freshman to sophomore season, and if he's able to build on that and earn more minutes and a larger role this season, he'll have a chance to show NBA scouts that he has a developing skill set and feel for the game to go along with his physical tools.
#10 Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, Junior, PG/SG, Kansas
7.2 points, 3.4 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 1.3 steals, 44% FG, 72% FT, 34% 3P
Having profiled Taylor fairly late in the season with a comprehensive scouting report, 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.