Today I will look at the Top Seniors available in this year’s draft. The trend over the years has been for the underclassmen to fill the top slots of the draft, and throwing in the International players, seniors are being drafted in 10-15 slots per draft. While their age and potential trajectory may work against them, Seniors can be great value picks for established teams looking to add a piece or two to play minutes right away.
1) Stanley Robinson - (UConn – 6’9, 210) – Small Forward – (14.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg) – Robinson is an outstanding athlete who has quietly come into his own as a basketball player over his 4 years at UConn. While Robinson known for his highlight reel dunks, he has become an improved perimeter shooter. His biggest weakness is his reluctance to attack the basket in the half-court. With the ability to hit from the outside combined with his quickness, he should be able to get to the rim almost at will. He will need to improve his ball-handling skills to do this. Defensively, he is a good on-ball defender, using his long wing span to disrupt passes. He is an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor and also has the ability to alter and block shots.
2) Damion James - (Texas – 6’7, 230) – Small Forward – (18 ppg, 10 rpg) – James is a pure workhorse who plays as more of an undersized power forward, though he does have the ability to step back and hit consistently from 15-17 feet. He is a very good offensive rebounder and gets out in transition. He is also very effective drawing fouls. He needs to work on playing from the outside in because of his size issues. Defensively, he is a good rebounder and help defender, though his speed and lateral movement will need work for him to cover NBA small forwards.
3) Greivis Vasquez – (Maryland – 6’6, 200) – Shooting Guard/Point Guard – (19.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.3 apg) – Vasquez is guard with good size, very good ball-handling skills and good court vision. He does a good job penetrating, though he can be a bit indecisive on whether to pass or shoot once he is in the lane. He also has a tendency to leave the ground when making passes which puts the team in awkward situations. He has become a better perimeter shooter, though he is still very streaky. Defensively, Vasquez can guard wither guard position. He has long arms which disrupt passing lanes, and he moves his feet well. He does not have ideal speed, so he does have some trouble guarding smaller guards. He has good potential with a team looking for a backup to add some quick offense off the bench.
4) Art Parakhouski – (Radford, 6’11, 260) – Center – (21.4 ppg, 13,4 rpg) – Parakhouski is one of the true classic centers in this draft – a big body, plays with his back to the basket and forces his will on others down low. On offense, he has good hands, has a nice assortment of post moves, and reacts well to double teams. He does a good job using his body to get position on the blocks and has a soft touch around the rim. He needs to improve his footwork, as his moves are not very fluid, and his free throw shooting needs work. Defensively, he is a strong presence down low. He boxes out well and goes strong after rebounds. He uses his body well in the post, though he is not very agile, and is susceptible to quicker big men. While he did not face a lot of competition in college, he did perform well in most games against better teams – including 23 point, 14 rebound game against Duke and a 21 point, 13 point performance versus Kansas.
5) Jarvis Varnado – (Mississippi St., 6’9, 230) – Power Forward – (13.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 4.6 bpg) – Varnado is known primarily as a shot-blocker, though he made some improvements as a more complete player this season. Offensively, Varnado is a good offensive rebounder, and he does a good job keeping the ball active around the rim. His touch has improved around the rim, though it still needs work. He has started to develop some post moves, though he still quite mechanical in his movements, and he keeps the ball down low too often making him prone to steals. Defensively, he is a terror. The leading blocker in SEC history, Varnado has an effect on any shot around the lane. He has excellent leaping ability, long arms, and good timing. He also does a good job blocking the ball to teammates or down the court instead of out of bounds. Varnado will be a good pick for a team looking for a young defensive presence in their lineup.
6) Sherron Collins – (Kansas, 5’11, 205) – Point Guard – (15.5 ppg, 4.5 apg) – Collins’ senior year came to an unexpected end against Northern Iowa in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament this year, but he has been a solid foundation for the Jayhawks for 4 seasons. Collins is a solidly built point with decent speed and a good handle. He is an excellent penetrator, though he doesn’t do it as much as he should. He runs the Pick and Roll very well, and has added range on his perimeter shot to keep defenders honest. His court vision is not as good as many points, but he does a good job getting the ball where it needs to be. He is not a great transition guard, lacking that extra burst that many great point guards have. Defensively, Collins is a strong on ball defender, and he does a good job getting through screens. He doesn’t close well on shooters and his size causes some disadvantages against larger point guards. Collins would benefit from playing behind a veteran point to show him the nuances of running a NBA team.
7) Quincy Pondexter – (Washington – 6’6, 215) – Small Forward – (19.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) – Pondexter is another high energy player who played in college as an undersized 4. He does a good job finding openings in the defense, crashes the offensive boards and can hit the jumper consistently from 15 -17 feet. To be an effective NBA player, he will need to improve on his one-on-one skills taking the ball to the basket. Defensively, he plays bigger then he is, using his body well against offensive players and rebounding well. He needs to improve his perimeter defending, especially his footwork. Pondexter has the makings of an effective NBA bench player providing a spark off the bench.
8 ) Jon Scheyer – (Duke – 6’5, 190) – Shooting Guard – (18.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.6 rpg) – Scheyer, primarily an outside threat his first 3 years at Duke, made an almost seamless move to running the point for this years champs. While he does not have the quickness to play the point at the NBA level, he is a good option as an emergency ballhandler, and a late game option because of his stellar free throw shooting. He plays in control, sees the floor well, and can take the ball to the rim effectively. He has a smooth perimeter stroke, though he is not great at creating his own shot, relying on screens to get open. Defensively, he is a good on-ball defender and effective off the ball. He lacks ideal foot speed, so he may have trouble with quicker guards, but he may have a role as 4th guard in a rotation.
9) Matt Bouldin – (Gonzaga – 6’5, 224) – Shooting Guard – (15.6 ppg, 4 apg, 4.7 rpg) – Similar to Scheyer, and also Andy Rautins at Syracuse, Bouldin is a natural shooting guard who found himself playing extensive time as a point guard because of his poise and court vision. He does a good job attacking the rim, and can create his own shot. He has good range on his jumper and does a good job drawing the defense and finding open teammates. Defensively, Bouldin does a good job keeping himself between the player and the rim, though he needs to improve his footwork and reaction time. While he most likely will never be more than a 15-20 minute player at the NBA level, he can be a valuable contributor off a team’s bench.
10) Dexter Pittman – (Texas, 6’10, 290) – Center/Power Forward – (10.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) – While there are more skilled players who could make this list, I chose Pittman because of the potential he could offer a team in needs of a (very) large presence in the middle. Pittman moves well for his size, with nimble feet and soft hands, and he does a good job setting himself up on the blocks. He needs to become more aggressive throwing his weight around, especially on the boards. Defensively, he can be tough for offensive players to get around, though he doesn’t react very quickly and can be beat with simple post moves. The major hurdle for him will be conditioning as he never averaged more than 19 minutes a game in college. This is due to his slow reactions causing him to foul unnecessarily, along with being winded. If the right team can get him in shape, he could be a force off the bench.
I will look at the next 10 seniors later during the week – including Andy Rautins, Da’Sean Butler, Scottie Reynolds and more.
As always, for more in-depth coverage of these players, check out the Mock Draft at DraftSite.com.