The NCAA season is underway and NBA scouts are already busy trying to determine the top players in the nation who may declare for the 2013 draft this summer. Below is an early look at my top three NBA prospects in the NCAA with scouting reports included on each player. The rankings and reports are based on the prospects games played this season and their potential as pro players in the association.
1) Cody Zeller, Centre, Indiana:
The sophomore big man has good size at 6’11’’ and strength weighing in at 240 lbs. He is excellent at running the floor in transition and has great hands when catching the ball. Zeller is physical, aggressive, agile and has a high motor. He possesses maturity, patience, a very high basketball IQ and usually makes the correct play on offense. He is a good passer with court vision from the post. Most of his offense is generated in the paint where he uses crafty footwork, and an effective spin move to get to the rim. He finishes efficiently in the paint (FG%: 63.5) with his both hands and can finish through contact. He currently does not have a consistent and effective mid range jumper. He displays good ability driving to the rim for a post player due to his dribbling ability and speed. He is a solid rebounder on offense (2.9 Off per game) and is an average rebounder on the defensive glass (4.9 Def per game) who boxes out, but is limited by his short arms. He is an average post defender who is physical enough to deny deep position, but is often scored over due to his short wingspan. Zeller has great anticipation on the defensive end, which he uses to create a high amount of steals for a centre (Stl 1.3 per game). He is also a good shot blocker (Blks 1.6 per game).
2) Alex Len, Centre, Maryland:
Len is a second year post player with great size standing at 7 ‘1” with a long wingspan, but needs to add more weight (listed at 225lbs.) in order to better stand his ground in the paint on both ends. He is vocal, active and has a good understanding of the game on both ends of the court. He is agile, athletic and runs the floor well for a player his size. He has a soft release near the basket and usually finishes off his right hand in the paint especially when using his effective jump hook. He can shoot out to midrange with good mechanics on his jumper. Len is a good offensive rebounder (3.8 Off per game) who is aggressive and boxes out well. He gets off the floor quickly on the second effort for tip-ins after a miss. He is also a good defensive rebounder (5.2 Def per game) who usually fights for position and secures the ball thanks to his long arms. He sets good screens to free up teammates. He has quick feet on defense, which he uses to hedge out well on screens and recover. Len is a solid post defender who contents shots and bodies up his opponent, but needs to add more strength to help him in this area. He is a great shot blocker (Blks 2.5 per game) and alters opponent’s shots with his length.
3) Shabazz Muhammad, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, UCLA:
Muhammad is a 6’6’’ freshman wing player who has a long wingspan and is very well built weighing in at 225 lbs. He is athletic, aggressive and has a high motor, but has average speed for his position. His best skill on offense is attacking the basket using his quick first step, strength and body control to power his way to the rim. He heavily favours his left hand when driving and finishing at the rim. He utilizes a nice runner with his left hand when attacking the rim. He has average ball handling ability for his position. He is not a playmaker who looks to create for his teammates. Muhammad has good ability posting up wing opponents with his back to the basket and uses his strength to back down to the rim. He has a solid jump hook shot off his left hand, but needs to improve off his right to supplement his strength of posting up. He has good mechanics on his jumper with effectiveness from midrange and from three (3P% 44.4). He does a solid job moving off the ball to get open. He is a good, aggressive offensive (3.0 Off per game) and defensive (3.0 Def per game) rebounder for his position. He is an above average man-to-man perimeter defender who is aggressive, bodies up his opponent and contests shots. He is slow closing out to contest shots on help defense.
Ian Grossman, previously worked as a scout in the CIS for the Ryerson men’s basketball team.