With no end to the NBA lockout in sight and the start of the 2011-12 NCAA Basketball season upon us, we're now relegated to speculations, wishes, "what ifs", and whole heck of a lot of time to breakdown the 2012 draft class. I'm not prepared to go there quite yet, but it doesn't hurt to key in on a few of the top prospects in college with the assumption that the Wizards will most likely be somewhere in the neighborhood to potentially select one of these players.
Here's who I'm focusing in one right now:
1. Anthony Davis, Freshman, PF, Kentucky: How can you not be intrigued by a player that had a massive growth spurt late in his high school career and went from playing guard to now being 6'10"? Davis has retained all of his guard skills despite shooting up 7" so quickly and while he still got quite a ways to go to fill out his now long and very lean frame, his game has a lot of "wow" factor and he's just getting used to his new position. There will be games where Davis gets overlooked playing on such a loaded UK team, but in the end I love this kid's upside.
2. Andre Drummond, Freshman, PF/C, UCONN: Drummond will be a "boom" or "bust" pick without a doubt. He's got a great body (6'10, 270 lbs.) and was a beast in high school, but there have been a few times when I've seen him just disappear despite being the most physically dominant player on the court. Perhaps he lacks that internal drive or perhaps he needs a motivating coach, but if he can demonstrate that "every night fire", he'll be a dominant force. Size and potential trumps all in the NBA and Drummond has plenty of both.
3. Harrison Barnes, Sophomore, SG/SF, North Carolina: Barnes has been widely discussed on these and every other Wizards boards so I'll go in another direction with him: Since the Tar Heels are absolutely stacked this year, I want to key in on how Barnes does everything except score, because we know the kid can score, I want to see how he rebounds, plays defense, creates for his teammates, leads his team, etc... If Barnes NBA projection is somewhere between Danny Granger and Paul Pierce, I'd like to see that overall game of his shine, because the situation he's in with many other scoring options on his UNC team, will be similar to nearly any NBA team that drafts him.
4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Freshman, SF, Kentucky: This kid could be the "steal of the draft" if he goes mid to late in the lottery as currently projected, but I absolutely love his versatility, as he really can do it all. MKG has had a very tough first 18 years of his life and knows that he has a great opportunity with Calipari at UK. He may be a little undersized as your prototypical NBA SF at 6'6", but his long arms, good physical strength, and plus athleticism will cover for the inch or two he may give up to his man at the next level.
5. Jared Sullinger, Sophomore, PF, The Ohio State: I want to see what Sully looks like in year two. How has his body matured and what will impact will that have on his game? The farce about Sullinger is his height, listed anywhere from 6'9"-6'10", he is most likely 6'6.5" without shoes on at best. Since he'll be an undersized PF in the league, I'll be watching how he's progressed with his jump shot and other aspects needed to be a "face up" player, as he will not be able to "bully" his way to the bucket in the NBA as he did during his freshman year at OSU.