It was just three weeks ago when seven former Big Ten stars heard their names called in the 2014 NBA Draft. Now, it’s already reached that point when draft analysts begin taking a super-early look at college basketball’s top 2015 draft prospects.
ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford released a mega-list of his top 100 NBA Draft prospects for 2015, which features 11 Big Ten standouts.
Leading the way is Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker, who appears at No. 18 on the list.
“Dekker was a favorite of the analytics crowd after a very effective freshman season, but he came back down to earth a bit as a sophomore,” Ford says of the Badgers’ junior forward. “He has size and athleticism for his position, but his jump shot accuracy faded significantly as a sophomore and damaged his draft stock. There are a lot of teams still interested, but he’ll need to bounce back as a junior.”
Only one other Big Ten player appears in the top 30 of Ford’s rankings, and that is Michigan guard Caris LeVert, who is ranked 27th.
“LeVert was one of the most improved players in the country last year,” Ford says. “After getting almost no attention from scouts as a freshman, he’s now firmly on the board as a potential first-round pick. He’s a great athlete, has range on his jump shot, plays terrific defense and even showed some nice court vision. If he builds on his terrific sophomore season, he’ll hear his named called by Adam Silver on draft night.”
Here is a list of where the remaining Big Ten standouts appear, as well as a blurb from Ford about their NBA potential.
32. Branden Dawson, SF, Michigan State
“Dawson has always been an intriguing prospect to NBA scouts. Blessed with an NBA body and elite athletic ability, he has the potential to be a No. 1 pick. However, injuries and the lack of a jump shot have kept him from cracking the first round. His play was very strong at the end of the season, and if he can have an Adreian Payne-like senior year, he could move his way into the first round”
36. Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
“Kaminsky had his coming-out party in a huge win against Arizona to propel Wisconsin to the Final Four. However, against Kentucky in the Final Four game, his stock came back down to earth a bit. He’s very skilled for a big man and has NBA three-point range on his jumper, but he needs to add strength and improve his rebounding. He was a likely second-round pick if he declared this year. Another year to improve and get stronger could push him into the first round in 2015. He reminds me a bit of Channing Frye.”
41. Zak Irvin, SG, Michigan
Positives: Versatile scorer, excellent athlete, has 3-point range on his jumper.
Negatives: Needs to improve defensive consistency, so-so rebounder for his length and athletic ability.
44. A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue
“Hammons has the requisite size to be an NBA player, but his development, like most big men, is taking longer. He likely would have been a second-round pick had he declared this year. If he shows development on both ends of the floor as a junior, he could be a mid- to late-first-round pick in 2015. The talent is there.”
56. Terran Petteway, SG, Nebraska
“Petteway is a versatile, aggressive scorer who can knock down shots from the three or by attacking the rim. He plays with an unbelievable motor, but that can also be his downfall as he can get caught up trying to do too much. He’s old for his draft class which limits his upside somewhat, but one of the more intriguing sleepers on this list.”
72. Troy Williams, SF, Indiana
Positives: Super athletic wing, explosive leaper, terrific finisher around the basket, excellent defender.
Negatives: Needs to improve his jump shot.
73. Dezmine Wells, SG, Maryland
(No comments on Wells)
86. Yogi Ferrell, PG, Indiana
Positives: True point guard, high basketball IQ, excellent mid-range game, great pushing the tempo.
Negatives: Needs to add strength, inconsistent 3-point shooter.
91. Andre Hollins, PG, Minnesota
“He’s tough, he’s a leader and still seems like he hasn’t tapped out his potential yet.”
Other names to consider: James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana), Robert Johnson (Indiana), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), D.J. Newbill (Penn State), D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State), Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), Aaron White (Iowa), Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin).