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Stock Watch

Thu, 03/22/2007 - 4:28pm

By Aran Smith
3/22/07

Rising

[img_assist|nid=3978|title=Nick Young - AP Photo: Matt Sayles|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=392]Nick Young 6-6 200 SG USC Jr.

Leading the Trojans into the Sweet Sixteen, Nick Young has established himself as one of the top wing prospects in the nation.

Against Texas, Young matched NCAA POY Kevin Durant point for point for most of the game shooting 8-13 with 22 points helping USC to the victory.

Young has developed a deadly go-to fade away jumper that is nearly impossible to defend. He used it effectively against Texas on a number of occasions.

Against Arkansas in the first round of the tourney, Young had 20 points and 7 boards, and a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line helping the Trojans to the 17 point victory.

His scoring statistics are nearly the same as a year ago at 17.6 ppg (up from 17.3) however his shooting percentages are significantly improved at 53% fg shooting and 45% 3p shooting.

Young still must become more proficient attacking the basket off the bounce, but his all around game has really matured in his junior season.

He is expected to parlay his tremendous season into declaring early for the NBA draft where he is a likely mid first rounder with a chance of being a top 10 pick.

Jeff Green 6-8 235 SF Georgetown Jr.

Over the past few weeks Jeff Green has gone from star to superstar. He has elevated his game into the elite among college basketball becoming Georgetown's unquestioned leader taking over in crunch time and delivering game winning baskets.

[img_assist|nid=3979|title=Jeff Green - AP Photo: Kevin Rivoli|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=336]No one helped themselves more during Championship Tourney week than Green. He showed the ability to score and lead his team with dominant performances against Villanova, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh to win the Big East title.

Green's 30 point 12 rebound performance including the game winning shot against Notre Dame likely cemented a spot for himself as a top ten pick.

In the process he has helped Georgetown become one of the hottest teams in the country with a real chance to reach to Final Four and win it all.

Green's ability to make those around him better is rare for a forward but early in his college career he showed a tendency to be too unselfish. This season he's become more assertive offensively taking over at the end of games.

Despite shooting just 4-12 in Georgetown's second round tourney win over Boston College, Green found other ways to contribute with 12 rebounds and helping contain BC's star Jared Dudley.

Kevin Durant 6-10 220 SF Texas Fr.

The season of Durant will go on without him with the Longhorns being eliminated by USC in the second round of the tourney. But it's been a great ride and Durant has built up quite a fan base during his one season in Austin.

[img_assist|nid=3980|title=Kevin Durant - AP Photo: Ted S. Warren|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=320|height=345]The one year of college ball will benefit him tremendously as his NBA career will surely be set to lift off a lot smoother than if he had been allowed to jump straight to the league, playing garbage minutes ala Kobe or Garnett in their rookie seasons.

20 points per game as a rookie seems like a legitimate possibility for him.

His offensive polish and shooting touch are absolutely unheard of for an 6-foot-10 inch 18 year old kid. With his 7-5 wing span and effortless ability to score, his potential appears limitless.

He'll need to get stronger and to maximize his ability and become a player that can be the centerpiece of a championship team, he'll need to develop the focus and hunger of a player like Dirk Nowitzki.

Durant enters the NBA an unfinished product but a significantly better prepared player. His endorsement opportunities are greatly enhanced as well. His name and image have been built up by being the poster boy of college basketball for the past year. Maybe this David Stern guy knows what he's doing.

Oden's ability to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor give him the ability to make a greater impact on the NBA level and make him likely the top overall selection. But in recent weeks Durant has closed the gap on Oden to some degree, especially with Oden not dominating through the first two rounds of the tournament, and a team will surely think twice before making the top selection.

[img_assist|nid=3981|title=Derrick Byars - AP Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=266]Derrick Byars 6-7 225 SG Vanderbilt Sr.

In an extremely close and exciting contest with Washington State, Byars took the Commodores on his back as the game wound down in regulation and both overtimes and would not allow his team to lose.

Every time Vanderbilt needed a big play whether it was the blocked shot at the end of the first OT, or hitting a key three pointer in the closing minutes to keep the game close, Byars made the play. He finished with 27 points on 9-20 shooting and proved that he raises his level of play in the biggest games.

Byars has the makings of an excellent nuts and bolts player on the next level. His athleticism is better than his foot speed, which is just average. He struggles to blow past quicker opponents off the dribble, and that may be all that's holding him back from being a star on the next level. But he is effective offensively as he has a quick release and shoots well off the catch and shoot or off the dribble.

Byars is quickly moving up the shooting guard lists and could find a spot in the top 20 picks of the NBA draft.


[img_assist|nid=3982|title=Roy Hibbert - AP Photo: David J. Phillip|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=268]Roy Hibbert 7-2 278 C Georgetown Jr.

The Georgetown bigman has improved his mobility and offensive game this season. He has been especially impressive late in the season with double doubles in each of his last three games.

Hibbert thoroughly dominated Aaron Gray in the Big East Championship game. He held Gray to just 3 points on 1-13 shooting, while putting up 18p and 11r. This game clearly embedded him above Gray on scouts lists.

Though his season stats are not significantly improved from a year ago, a lot of that can be attributed to the Georgetown offense which limits offensive touches. He has been on a steady ascent all season.

This year Hibbert is running the floor with a lot better speed and fluidity and has become a lot more confident with his post moves.

He doesn't blow you away with athleticism or spectacular plays. His upside isn't mind boggling, but he displays a strong motor and solid work ethic. Despite the NBA's trend moving away from traditional bigman, there is still a premium on centers with size and skill level, which Hibbert is showing.

Hibbert's excellent junior season has boosted his stock and he is now considered likely to declare for the draft and become a mid-first rounder with a shot to get in the lottery with strong workouts.

Falling

[img_assist|nid=3983|title=Marcus Williams - AP Photo: Alex Brandon|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=339]Marcus Williams 6-7 207 SG Arizona So.

After being projected as a potential top 10 pick early in the season, Williams numbers and level of play dropped off significantly.

Williams finished the year shooting just 28.8% from 3 and with a negative assists to turnover ratio at 2.2/2.7. Both are statistics scouts will point to come draft time.

Williams lack of body strength also remains an issue. Arizona's flashy new unis did him no favors as they made him look even skinnier.

Williams may have had his mind on the NBA instead of his team in the later stages of the season. His play, along with Arizona's as a team dropped off considerably.

He suffered an ankle injury in the North Carolina game in late January after which he never seemed to have the same bounce in his step.

His overall scoring remained solid with his best game coming in a 34 point 2 point loss to Oregon, but this game triggered a 7-9 skid to end the season for Arizona.

Williams did not show the ability to lead his team to victory in the NCAA tourney against a Purdue team frankly with inferior talent.

On the positive side, Williams is 6-7 with a 7 foot wingspan with an array of offensive skills. His ball handling and passing ability are better than his assist to turnover ratio would indicate. He appears intent on entering the draft this year and remains a likely first round pick.

[img_assist|nid=3984|title=Nick Fazekas - AP Photo: Bill Haber|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=368]Nick Fazekas 6-11 240 PF Nevada Sr.

For whatever reason Nick Fazekas consistently struggles to find his dancing shoes, with his level of play falling off considerably in the NCAA tourney.

His 17 and 11 against Creighton in the opening round and 20 and 7 against Memphis look good on paper. But in reality he wasn't able to step up and lead his team to victory against Memphis the way a senior leader and potential first team All American needs to.

He fouled out in the early part of overtime against Creighton but the Wolfpack was able to rally in his absence.

His biggest weakness, lack of mobility was exposed by the up-tempo Memphis Tigers.

Despite being one of the most productive players in the country, and the only player other than Durant to Average 20 and 10, scouts are less optimistic about Fazekas' pro potential.

His inability to run the floor was glaring and despite his amazing half court skills, he is seen by scouts as a role player at best for the next level and a likely high to mid second round pick.

Arron Afflalo 6-5 215 SG UCLA Jr.

Afflalo has struggled of late especially in UCLA's Pac-Ten tournament game against Cal. He was just 1-7 in the game with 3 points and fouled out in the 7 point loss.

Afflalo bounced back in the first round of the tourney with 22 on 8-15 against Weber State. But he struggled once again shooting 2-11 against Indiana with 10 points. His late game free throws were key, but it will take some big performances the rest of the tourney to reverse the momentum.

His inability to create offense for himself off the dribble is his most glaring weakness and it shows against big and athletic defenders.

With his excellent defense and ability to catch and shoot, he remains a top wing prospect with a good shot to find a place in the late first round area. But he will need to step up his level of play to guarantee a spot in the first round, as he appears intent upon entering the draft this season.

[img_assist|nid=3985|title=Alando Tucker - AP Photo: Brian Kersey|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=355]Alando Tucker 6-5 210 SF Wisconsin Sr.

Tucker's senior season came to an unceremonious close with their second round upset loss to UNLV. The team just didn't have the same offensive ability without bigman Brian Butch.

Tucker struggled in the Big Ten final against Ohio State going 4-13 with 10 points and once again as the Badgers were eliminated by UNLV.

Tucker played solid with 17 points, but his inability to create shots for himself was apparent. In the clutch it was Kammron Taylor, not Tucker looking to take the big shots.

He still seen as a likely first round pick, however it's likely to be somewhere in the later half. He has excellent versatility, and should make a solid role player on the next level but some of the intrigue surrounding him has dissipated.

DJ Augustin 5-11 180 PG Texas Fr.

Augustin had a brilliant season and is definitely one of the top freshmen point guards in the country, but his pro potential is not nearly what his college level of play would suggest. The monumental hype surrounding him is unwarranted.

His feel for the point guard position is excellent as he plays wise beyond his years, but he's not close to a first round pick right now. Some scouts even question if he has the size to play in the NBA. He's well under 6 feet, and doesn't have the explosiveness, athleticism or wingspan to "play big" for his size.

DJ had excellent stats for a freshman with 14.4 ppg shooting 45% from the field and 44% from 3. Obviously it takes a special talent to jump to the league even as a sophomore as Chris Paul did, but as great as the group of freshmen point guards are, none of them are in Paul's league.

Augustin struggles to create against bigger and more athletic guards. When he takes the ball inside, his lack of explosiveness makes finishing difficult for him. His 2-1 a/to ratio is excellent but his stat totals are surely enhanced by having a player such as Durant on his team.

Augustin is a heady play maker can develop into a first round pick after 3-4 years of college experience, but the lottery pick hype and even first round hype is way off base.

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