Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA level before we come to any long-term conclusions.
#1 Jared Sullinger, 6-8, Sophomore, PF/C, Ohio State
Having profiled Sullinger 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 2010-2011 game footage.
#2 Meyers Leonard, 7-0, Sophomore, Center, Illinois
Meyers Leonard didn't look the part of one of the NBA prospects in the Big 10 in his freshman campaign, producing a meager 2 points and 1 rebound in 8 minutes per game. However, there are signs which lead us to believe he could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Rated a top-20 recruit coming out of high school, no one has ever doubted the talent Leonard possesses. Inexperience and immaturity plagued Leonard his freshman year, but he's [url=vowed to come back this season with a much different attitude, some of which we saw this summer at the U-19 World Championship in Latvia, where he had some impressive moments, ranking 4th overall in per-minute efficiency.
A physically gifted 7-footer with an excellent frame, a long wingspan and very nice mobility, Leonard is a rare commodity in college basketball. He shows most of the attributes you look for in a big man prospect, albeit in small doses at this stage, still struggling to put everything together for extended periods. With senior big men Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale moving onto the professional ranks, though, Leonard looks primed to step into a much bigger role for Illinois, something he looks more than capable of handling.
The first thing that stands out about Leonard is how agile and coordinated he is for a player his size. He runs the floor extremely well, can play well above the rim and has good quickness. Inside the paint, Leonard has average footwork and a somewhat rudimentary post game at this stage, but is capable of finishing with either hand around the basket and should be able to expand his back to the basket arsenal in due time with added lower body strength and polish.
From the perimeter, Leonard shows promising touch and form on his mid-range jumper, often elevating off the floor more like a guard than a 7-footer. He converted over 70% of his free throw attempts both as a freshman and in Latvia. He's a surprisingly adept passer, showing a better feel for the game than his lack of experience and production would suggest.
Defensively, Leonard has excellent tools, and appeared to do a solid job in limited minutes, besides being somewhat foul prone. He's pretty active on this end of the floor, competing willingly inside the paint, where his size and length makes it difficult for opponents to shoot over him if they don't get deep position on him. Unfortunately stronger and more physical big men can, at times, get the best of him as he has yet to fill our his frame. Leonard would benefit from increased lower body strength in particular.
Thanks to his quick feet he's also able to step out and hedge a screen effectively, even looking capable of switching onto smaller players and using his agility and dexterity to stay in front of them on the perimeter. Leonard was mediocre on the glass last season, grabbing just 6.1 rebounds per-40 minutes, something that wasn't the case this summer in Latvia, where he averaged more than double that rate.
Where Leonard may need to improve the most, as he's admitted himself, is on the mental part of the game. He seemed to lose his confidence quickly last season, looking tentative, getting easily frustrated and not showing the type of toughness you hope to see from a top-shelf prospect. For him to take the next step in his career, he's going to have overcome that.
Leonard might still be another year away from becoming the dominant force at the collegiate level his physical tools and upside indicate he can, but if he improves as expected this season, he might not last that long in Champaign.
#2 William Buford, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, Ohio State
Having profiled Buford 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 2010-2011 game footage.
#4 Robbie Hummel, 6-8, Senior, Small Forward, Purdue
Hummel missed all of last year with a knee injury. We'll wait and see how he bounces back this season before attempting to add to his already comprehensive profile.
#5 Jordan Taylor, 6-1, Senior, Point Guard, Wisconsin
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 2010-2011 game footage.