September 27, 2012
By Eriel Parra
Continuing PBD's look at the top draft prospects in each conference, this time we will be looking at the top players to watch in the SEC conference.
1. Nerlens Noel---FR---Kentucky---PF/C---6’11---228lbs.---04/10/1994
The top prospect in the list is USA Today National Player of the Year Nerlens Noel. An outstanding big man who is notorious for his intimidating defense, Noel has been considered by many as a candidate to be a top-pick in next year’s NBA draft. When looking at Noel’s game one can’t help but notice how effective he is on the defensive side of the court, especially in the painted area. However, there are other areas where Noel has demonstrated his potential to become an instant force in college basketball. His superb length and athleticism will allow him to run the floor, finish above anyone during transition, as well as an advantage when crashing the boards for rebounding opportunities. If healthy, Noel should have no problem dominating the frontcourt in the SEC and follow Anthony Davis footsteps as Kentucky tries to conquer another National Championship.
2. Alex Poythress---FR.---Kentucky----SF----6’7---239lbs.---09/06/1993
Alex Poythress is the second Wildcat to be part of our SEC prospect ranking. Poythress is a very strong forward who’s relatively long and is often determined to drive and finish strong at the basket. Due to his leaping ability and overpowering strength, he can rebound the basketball at will and physically dominate his matchups. Even though he has an NBA body, he needs to become consistent when shooting from the three point line and the mid-range area. Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball is expected to dominate smaller wingmen with his physical attributes and blow by smaller forwards. Even if it takes a while for Poythress to become comfortable with the position or offensive responsibilities given to him at Kentucky, he will still contribute to the team’s success by rebounding and defending the perimeter.
3. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope---SO---Georgia---SG---6’5---200lbs.---02/18/1993
It is imperative to state that Caldwell-Pope is one of the, if not, the best pure shooters in the SEC and NCAA. Due to his extended shooting range and quick catch-and-shoot Caldwell-Pope is a thread on the open court; as he can take the ball to the basket or pull-up for a consistent fast break jump-shot. He also knows how to use screens and play without the basketball in order to create more space for easier looks from the three point line. Pope’s decision making has affected his field goal percentage (39%) by settling for three point shots too often, and by not trusting his mid-range shot. Kentavious was named to the Coaches Freshman All-SEC team last year and is likely to become one of the top scorers in the conference as his decision making and shot consistency improve during his sophomore year. Gerald Robinson (last year’s leading scorer at Georgia) graduated, so it’s the perfect time for Caldwell-Pope to take over as the first option for the Bulldogs.
4. Archie Goodwin---FR---Kentucky---SG---6’4---198lbs.---08/17/1994
The fourth ranked player in our list is yet another freshman recruited by coach Calipari to fill out one of the vacancies left by the six Wildcats picked in the 2012 NBA draft. McDonalds All American selection Archie Goodwin’s presence might not only fill out one of those vacancies but it can surprise many fans across the country. As a natural shooting guard, Goodwin can score at will due to the fact that his speed makes him a thread in the open court. Due to his defensive effort and tremendous offensive upside, Calipari found the perfect freshman to take Doron Lamb’s spot at the shooting guard position. His perimeter shooting needs to improve but Goodwin still has the tools to break down the defense and finish with authority at the basket. Once he gets used to his teammates, he will be able to create plays and find the open man. His future is a bright one, but first we must see what can he do when wearing a Kentucky uniform.
5. Patric Young----JR---Florida----PF/C----6’9---249lbs.---02/01/1992
Florida’s Patric Young starts his junior year showing improvement in his offense and the usual ferocity that makes him one of the best Big Men in the SEC. The combination of size and athleticism has made Young a top 5 SEC prospect. Coming back from a 10 PPG season, Gainesville fans have expectations that Young will keep improving his post offense and becomes a trustworthy scorer. Young will also be part of a mature Gators where he will be the main source of rebounds and blocked shots. When using his size and strength the right way he is intimidating and if healthy, he can help the Gators become way better than expected. Young has also shown he can handle pressure and has played well for Florida during Tournament time. Once he proves that he can develop an offensive move other than dunking or second shot opportunities through rebounds, he could be a late first-rounder.
6. B.J. Young-----SO------Arkansas----SG---6’3---180lbs.----05/26/1993
Last year, the lightning quick guard B.J. Young, proved how he can score the ball with ease. After averaging 15 PPG as a freshman, Young will begin this year as a candidate to be a top scorer in the conference. Due to his capacity to attack the basket and constantly make jump shots, Young can be unstoppable at times. However, his lack of playmaking capacity is one of his flaws. If he starts looking to set his teammates with comfortable looks to the basket he will be able to make his team better and raise his draft stock for next year. He was selected to the Second-Team All-SEC as a freshman last year and led the team in scoring. His size could be a problem in the NBA, but if he keeps improving defensively and scoring like he does he should have a great year.
7. Ryan Harrow----SO----Kentucky---PG---6’2---170lbs.---04/22/1991
Ryan Harrow is a true point guard who’s extremely fast up-and-down the court, with exceptional ball handling and tremendous moves that allow him to beat the defense to find the open man. Harrow’s lack of strength is a problem at times because he can’t take contact, which makes him prone to commit turnovers. His fancy style of play can be interesting and exciting. He can make the open shot but he’s a below average shooter. Harrow is a transfer from NC State and will be fulfilling the Marquis Teague’s vacancy at the Point Guard position. So even thou there are high expectations of him, he’s still developing and improving to become more effective when controlling Kentucky’s offense. Ryan’s speed, however, will be essential to the success of the Wildcats but at the same time it can be a double sided sword since at times his speed is the cause of unfortunate turnovers in transition. Thankfully, Harrow will be coached by John Calipari, and we have witness how good he is when developing his point guards.
8. Jarnell Stokes----SO ---Tennessee ---PF---6’8---270lbs.---01/07/1994
The third Power Forward to be ranked in our list is Tennessee’s sophomore Jarnell Stokes. Returning from a productive freshman year in which he scored 9.6PPG and grabbed 7.4RPG, Stokes gets most of his points off post-up moves around the basket. He has a wide variety of offensive moves and his good basketball sense is evident as he usually knows how to read the defense to take advantage of his location on the floor. Stokes is part of an experienced Volunteer team that will bring back its two top scorers; however, it is very likely that Jarnell will have more scoring opportunities this season due to his performance last year. Stoke has also shown some talent on the defensive side as well; he averaged 1.4BPG, and is usually a defensive rebounding machine. Stokes’ raw potential gained him a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team last year, and if he keeps improving his game and consistency throughout the year, he could become the best natural power forward in the conference.
9. Kenny Boynton---SR---Florida------PG----6’2---190lbs.---05/12/1991
There’s no doubt Kenny Boynton deserves a spot in our SEC prospect ranking. The third top scorer in the SEC (16.9 PPG) last year has shown improvement in his decision making from year to year as he has elevated his field goal percentage up to 44%. Boynton has been the number one option for the Gators during the last couple of years, and his defensive skills are great additions to his offensive domination. However, Boynton is too small if expected to play the Shooting Guard position in a near future. His playmaking abilities are above average and it is very rare for him to show Point Guard skills as he is not known for trying to set his teammates for good, comfortable shots. But at the collegiate level, Boynton scoring ways have brought stability to the Gators in both the regular season and tournament time. He was named First Team All-SEC last year, and it will be great to see if he has gained enough experience to lead a veteran team to the top of the SEC.
10. Jeronne Maymon---SR---Tennessee---PF---6’7---260lbs.---03/06/1991
Another power forward completes our list of SEC prospects. Jeronne Maymon had a very productive season last year as he got used to Volunteers basketball. (Transfer from Marquette) His average of nearly 13 PPG and a 55% field goal percentage earned him a Second Team All-ACC spot and an SEC Most Improved Player Award. Maymon is at his best when he’s the roll man in pick-and-roll plays and when posting up in the paint. His NBA strength and built can give him an intimidating presence when playing aggressively. This summer, he underwent a minor arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, which could affect his season. But since it was a minor surgery, chances are that he will be the starting Power Forward for this year’s Tennessee Volunteers edition. The frontcourt combination of Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes will be a major concern for teams within the conference, and give the Volunteers a better chance to surpass expectations.