A look ahead: Top Big Ten 2013 NBA Draft prospects

With the 2012 NBA Draft in the rearview mirror, it’s time to rank the Big Ten’s top 2013 draft prospects. There’s a ton of talent across the conference, from freshmen to seniors. For the sake of this post, though, only sophomores through seniors are considered. Let’s call it the Harrison Barnes rule. If you remember, two years ago, Barnes was named to the AP Preseason All-America Team before playing a single college game. Things didn’t turn out as well as expected. So without further ado, here are my top 10 Big Ten 2013 NBA Draft prospects.

[BTN.com: Four ex-Big Ten stars taken in 2012 NBA Draft]

1. Cody Zeller, Soph., Indiana – Many think Indiana’s savior could be the first pick of next year’s draft, assuming he decides to leave early. Put it this way: big men who can run the floor and do it all are a rare breed.

2. Deshaun Thomas, Jr., Ohio State – Every team covets scoring. No Big Ten player does it better than Thomas, an efficient scorer who hasn’t met a shot he doesn’t like.

3. Trevor Mbawke, Sr., Minnesota – Mbakwe will have three strikes against him — age, size (6-8) & a surgically repaired right knee — but you can’t teach double-double potential.

Michigan's Trey Burke

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

4. Rodney Williams, Sr., Minnesota – If the athletic Gopher improves half as much as he did this past season in his final campaign, he’ll be a coveted man. Give him a jump shot, and look out.

[BTN.com: Big Ten draft picks since 2000]

5. Trey Burke, Soph., Michigan – He can penetrate, he can dish, he can shoot, and he can board. Really, the biggest issue people seem to have is his 6-foot frame, which isn’t that small.

6. Branden Dawson, Soph., Michigan State – If it weren’t for last season’s late ACL tear, Dawson’s name would be higher on this list. How will the injury affect the supremely athletic sophomore? We’ll have to wait and see.

7. Drew Crawford, Sr., Northwestern – Equipped with a prototypical NBA body, Crawford is an adept scorer who can fill it up inside or outside.

8. Tim Hardaway Jr., Jr., Michigan – Hardaway struggled during his sophomore campaign, especially from distance (28 percent). But the Wolverine has the game and the bloodline to impress NBA scouts.

9. Christian Watford, Sr., Indiana – Watford is an NBA talent, no doubt, but he’s very much a tweener. At 6-9 and 215 pounds, he doesn’t have the size to bang with NBA power forwards, and he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with small forwards.

10. Tim Frazier, Sr., Penn State – Patrick Chambers compares him to NBA veteran Kyle Lowry, which is incredibly high praise. There’s no doubt Frazier can do it all, but his size and shooting will be issues.

Others: Brandon Paul, Illinois; Victor Oladipo, Indiana; LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State; Jared Berggren, Wisconsin.

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.

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