#4 Duke versus #5 Kansas AND #1 Kentucky against #2 Michigan State? In the same venue? No wonder there were approximately 384,571 NBA scouts at the United Center Tuesday night for the Champions Classic. In total there were about thirteen possible 2014 NBA Draft lottery picks playing in the two games. No, seriously.
Here is a breakdown of who stood out and who struggled in Kansas’ victory against Duke, and how that might help or hurt their draft status early in this season. Click here for my analysis of the prospects in the Kentucky/Michigan State game and here’s a look at my very early 2014 NBA Mock Draft.
Jabari Parker, SF, Duke, Fr.
Even though his team lost, Parker had quite a homecoming with 27 points and nine rebounds. Simply put; he is the truth on offense. Parker showed off a complete arsenal including an advance step back jumper, three-point range, the ability to get to the basket, and his solid athleticism on that nasty one-handed alley-oop.
Perry Ellis, PF, Kansas, Soph.
It took Ellis a while to get going during his freshman campaign but he hit stride late last season and that progression continued Tuesday night. Ellis was aggressive and efficient on the inside and even showed his versatility by knocking down a three-pointer. He led the Jayhawks with a career-high 24 points and while I wouldn’t expect him to leave Lawrence after this season, he is a future first round pick. Plus, Ellis gets my vote as the best college basketball player with a receding hairline.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas, Fr.
Wiggins had a very quiet 22 points and 10 rebounds as he experienced some foul trouble that took him out of the flow of the game a bit. I came away impressed but not blown away. He will absolutely be in the discussion for the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft thanks to his versatility, athleticism, and all-around ability. Whether it’s fair or not with the unreachable expectations thrust upon him entering this season, I guess I just wanted to see more Tuesday night.
Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas, Fr.
If it weren’t for Wiggins, Selden would be the headliner for the Jayhawks this season. He had a pretty complete outing with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. He is a physical off guard who uses his strength to get the bucket but also displayed a nice outside stroke. Selden showed enough to wet the whistles of NBA teams and they will certainly be seeing plenty of him this year while they are scouting Wiggins. The lottery should be in his near future.
Rodney Hood, SF, Duke, Soph.
At times, the Mississippi State transferred looked impressive with his silky smooth slashing ability but did disappear for stretches. He will be overshadowed by Parker all season long but still has lottery level skills as a small forward though they weren’t full on display against Kansas.
Rasheed Sulaimon, SG, Duke, Soph.
After starting all of last season, Sulaimon has taken a bit of a backseat this season with Parker and Hood joining the team, and is now coming off the bench. He was aggressive offensively showing off his shooting ability from the outside and his mid-range jumper. As long as he is being used in a reserve role this season, there is no real risk of him turning pro but he still has first round potential and that didn’t waver Tuesday night.
Joel Embiid, C, Kansas, Fr.
Can you say, “project?” Everyone knows Embiid is a work in progress and that showed Tuesday night. Yes, he has the height, athleticism, length, and potential to be a very good big man down the road but he is not close to being there yet. He is uncomfortable with the ball in his hands and his offensive game needs a ton of grooming before he is ready contribute at the next level. I won’t deny the fact that he could be a top five pick in the 2014 NBA Draft but his development throughout the season will be something to keep a close eye on.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.