Top 10 Small Forward Prospects
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
No freshman came in with higher expectations than Andrew Wiggins and while some felt he did not fully live up to the hype, he still managed to end the season as a consensus 2nd Team All-American. He played an intense schedule, taking some lumps while at the same time showing flashes of the explosive athleticism that made him the early favorite for the first pick in the 2014 Draft. He is a world class run/jump athlete with excellent size for the wing, as well as the lateral quickness to be an NBA standout. His potential as a two way player makes him incredibly intriguing and while he still needs to work on his ball skills, Wiggins was a terror in transition as well as a constant threat to get to the foul line. Some question his passion and mentality, whether he has the “killer instinct” that makes great prospects into great players. The feeling among Wiggins supporters is that while his ball skills still need refinement, the wide open style and level of competition of the NBA could bring out the best in him. He is seen as a major part of the future of Canada basketball and though he has a ways to go skill wise before joining the leagues elite, there is legitimate hope of possibly reaching that level.
2. Rodney Hood, Duke
The transfer from Mississippi St. received high praise during his year of waiting from coach Mike Krzyzewski and he played the 2nd scoring option role quite well in his lone year as a Blue Devil. He has drawn high praise from scouts for his character and intelligence and will get consideration in the top 10 on draft night. The lithe wing was a constant threat from long range and also had the ability to make plays once he put the ball on the floor. Even without enormous length, Hood has nice size for the wing and uses it to his advantage. He also moves quite fluidly and shows good athleticism for the wing spot at the NBA level. Adding strength looks to be the major factor for his transition to the next level. His light frame did not make him much of a factor on the boards and he sometimes seemed to shy from contact, settling for long jumpers instead of utilizing his athleticism towards the rim. Hood certainly has tools and lateral quickness, making him an intriguing wing prospect, it is just a matter of how long it takes him to transition to the increased physical ability of the NBA wing players.
3. Doug McDermott, Creighton
The run away winner of almost every National Player of the Year award this season, McDermott had an incredible NCAA career that saw him finish 5th All-Time on the NCAA Division 1 scoring list. “Dougie McBuckets” was a consensus first team All-American in his two previous seasons as well and was better than ever as Creighton moved to the Big East as he took home the 2014 scoring title. He is an absolutely prolific shooter with legitimate NBA range, finishing with a staggering 45.8% 3PT while almost making 2 per game during his four year career. Doug also had a knack for scoring from other areas, was an active rebounder and performed well above expectations at the NBA combine as an all-around athlete. His lack of statistical activity as a defender is definitely a concern and the team that drafts him will likely have to make a scheme that covers up this deficiency. The fact remains that he is a dead eye shooter who should have a role waiting for him right away in the pros.
4. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
“Little Big Dog” had a lot of buzz going into the year after playing a solid role as a freshman on the Michigan team that made the 2013 NCAA title game. Though Michigan had another solid season, GR3’s play left many wanting more and not noticing a lot of progression from year 1. The team was in the hands of breakout sophomore, Nik Stauskas, and saw Robinson III struggle from the outside and have a tough transition to the wing after playing a lot of 4 in his freshman season. His ball skills need a lot of work and while he measured in at a decent size at the combine, his size is pretty average for a SF. What he does possess is major athleticism, putting himself amongst the elite overall athletes in the draft. The son of 1994 #1 pick, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, certainly has potential to become quite a threat as a scorer. It does seem he will need time to adjust physically and still needs to refine his overall skill set. If he can gain the confidence his father possessed as a scorer, he could be a definite sleeper amongst this crop of wings. Robinson is one of our sleepers for this year’s draft.
5. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Early had a very solid senior season and really opened some eyes with his performance in the tournament, despite the Shockers losing to Kentucky. He showed great body control, converting numerous plays in transition, and showed an ability to get buckets when he absolutely needed them. His touch and range from the perimeter means he will likely be a quality scorer at the NBA level, if he gets minutes. He’s an above average athlete with excellent explosiveness, as he confirmed with his combine results. The major drawbacks are that he is a tweener lacking size for the post, and skill and lateral speed on the perimeter. He likely played himself into a first round selection with his tourney and strong senior season, however he could slide to the last 5 picks or so due to being such a tweener.
6. Jerami Grant, Syracuse
The son of former NBA player Harvey Grant and the nephew of multiple ring winner, Horace, Jerami comes from NBA genes and has impressive physical tools. His length and reach are both huge for a wing player, with athleticism to go along with these qualities. The fact that he also seemed to be exceedingly well in the two epic Syracuse clashes with Duke this season also had to help paint a picture of what Grant could possibly become down the line. With all of these positives, Grant still did not display much consistency. The team became predictable offensively and while Grant could at times be a force, his lack of range and ball skills both did not help matters. He certainly has a ways to go before providing much offense and never got a chance to show any long range ability in college. Defense looks to be his calling card and he certainly has potential as both his father and uncle were dangerous mid-range shooters. Finding his position could be tough and he may be better as a 4 than a 3. If he can work on his skill set and add bulk with time, he has the potential to be a tough match-up down the road.
7. TJ Warren, NC State
After playing a complementary role as a freshman, Warren turned into one of the most dangerous scorers in the nation this past season. His 24.8 ppg were good for 3rd in the country and he averaged a whopping 29.6 ppg over his last ten games of the year. Warren came into the year in considerably better shape and with improved range. He has solid size for the wing along with great instinct that helped him get rebounds and play the passing lanes well in college. With his conditioning no longer being a major concern, he still is not necessarily the most explosive athlete, nor the most fleet of foot. Also, while his range had improved, he was not a major long range threat in college and the NBA should be an adjustment to that facet of his game as well. It is unknown whether Warren can become a huge contributor right away, his potential as a wing scorer is quite evident after the work that led to his fantastic sophomore campaign.
8. DeAndre Daniels, UConn
The presumed boost the NCAA Tournament gives prospects is not always accurate or evident when it comes to the draft process. When it comes to Daniels, it is hard not to think his contribution to UConn’s 2014 NCAA Title was not a major reason he ends up on this list rather than going back for his senior season. Seen as a player with a lot of talent and very good physical tools for the wing spot, he has been on the NBA radar since coming out of high school. Some were starting to wonder when, or if, the light switch was going to turn on as he suffered through bouts of inconsistency. After a brilliant NCAA Tournament run that saw him average 16 ppg and 7.2 rpg, with dominant performances in games against Iowa St. and Florida, the upside of Daniels was apparent. Strength at the next level still appears to be an issue and his low athletic test scores at the NBA combine were a tad surprising. What he does provide is a sweet shooting wing with length, his ability to play a role in pressure situations in college certainly helping as well.
9. KJ McDaniels, Clemson
Taking over as the go-to player for Clemson, McDaniels led the Tigers to a winning record in the ACC and a near berth in the NCAA Tournament. Though the team fell short, they made a solid NIT run and McDaniels did a lot to impress scouts over the year. His versatility and aggressiveness on the defensive end really stood out, as he seemed to play really well in big games against top competition. It’s well known that he caused Jabari Parker fits in their two match-ups and his timing for blocking shots at his size was impressive, as he averaged 2.8 bpg. He also showed major improvement offensively, with solid play on that end while showing some potential with his shot. Clearly he still has to work on his ball skills and he was not out of this world athletically, which did not live up to the expectations he had going into the Draft Combine. What he does seem to bring is a toughness, work ethic and attitude that could fill a role as an energy player with good potential as a perimeter defender.
10. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, (Greece) Delaware 87ers
The other “Greek Freak” is the older brother of Bucks’ rookie sensation, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Thanasis is more explosive vertically than his younger brother, though lacks his insane physical dimensions for the wing spot. Still, he has decent size for the position and he spent a full year working on his game in the NBA Development League. He started a majority of his games for the 87ers, finishing with averages of 12 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 2.1 apg in 29.3 mpg in his 50 contests. He showed flashes of his great run and jump athleticism, particularly as a pesky defender. The 87ers also finished at 12-38, last place in the D-League, with Thanasis struggling a lot as an outside shooter and showing that he is probably a long way away from contributing. His upside lies in his flashes of major athleticism and in his still raw understanding of the game giving hope for future skill development. He is a likely 2nd round pick and his intrigue is not only based on his last name, though it is unfair to expect him to live up to the expectations created by his younger sibling’s rookie season.
DeMon Brooks 6-7 220 SF Davidson Sr., Cameron Clark 6-6 210 SF Oklahoma Sr., Devon Collier 6-8 233 SF Oregon St. Sr., Melvin Ejim 6-6 220 SF/PF Iowa St. Sr., CJ Fair 6-8 218 SF Syracuse Sr., Viktor Gaddefors 6-8 218 SF Virtus Bologna 1992, Alessandro Gentile 6-7 230 SG/SF Olimpia Milano 1992, Niels Giffey 6-7 200 SF UConn Sr., Joe Harris 6-6 215 SG/SF Virginia Sr., Josh Huestis 6-8 215 SF Stanford Sr., Damien Inglis 6-9 240 SF/PF Roanne 1995, Travis McKie 6-7 220 SF Wake Forest Sr., Mike Moser 6-8 205 SF/PF Oregon Sr., Devin Oliver 6-7 225 SF Dayton Sr., Lamar Patterson 6-5 225 SG/SF Pittsburgh Sr., Elijah Pittman 6-9 220 SF Marshall Sr., JaKarr Sampson 6-8 210 SF St. Johns So., Will Sheehey 6-7 195 SF Indiana Sr., Ojars Silins 6-9 210 SF Reggio Emilia 1993, LaQuinton Ross 6-8 240 SF Ohio State Jr., Okaro White 6-9 200 SF/PF Florida St. Sr., Jamil Wilson 6-7 220 SF Marquette Sr.