The Atlantic Coast Conference is home to not only some of the best teams in college basketball, but also some of the best NBA prospects in the nation as well.
Here is a scouting report on my top five prospects in the ACC:
5.) Marcus Paige (North Carolina – Guard – Junior): The Tar Heels’ floor general is also a prolific scorer, especially from the 3-point line. He’s also shown good instincts when passing the ball out of dribble penetration, and he sees the floor well both in the half court and in transition. Paige is not that athletic, which hurts him defensively when it comes to staying in front of bigger players at the opposing guard position. He has also struggled getting through screens and contact, but makes up for it by being incredibly savvy on the court.
4.) Tyus Jones (Duke – Guard – Freshman): Jones is a complete, well-rounded offensive player, with the ability to make smart passes in all facets of the game. Jones shoots the ball well from different spots on the floor, and can take his man off the dribble and finish at the rim, displaying the ability to draw fouls as well. He possess great athleticism, which compliments his high basketball IQ tremendously well. One of Jones’ most obvious weaknesses is that he is not as quick as some of the other top level guards, but much like Marcus Paige, he is able to make up for that with his high IQ on the court.
3.) Brice Johnson (North Carolina – Forward – Junior): Johnson is a wiry athlete who plays above-the-rim thanks to his quick leaping ability. He has great length and athleticism, and plays efficiently on the offensive end, by converting most of his points on high percentage shots (put backs, alley-oops, transition points). He is one of the the best athletes in college basketball but must add strength and weight so that he can effectively play among NBA big men. Bulking up should be the easy part for Johnson, as his basketball skills are becoming more and more well developed.
2.) Montrezl Harrell (Louisville – Forward – Junior): Harrell is what you would call a high-energy player and an explosive athlete. His high motor and long wingspan allow him to impact a game in numerous ways; including scoring, rebounding and as a defensive playmaker, as he demonstrated by finishing in the top 10 in the ACC last season with 1.3 block shots per game. Harrell would be undersized at the NBA level at 6-foot-8, but he’s still a complete package and will continue to develop from a raw talent into a more polished player. He’s worked to add a jumpshot to his arsenal, and will continue to develop under Rick Pitino.
1.) Jahlil Okafor (Duke – Center – Freshman ): At 6-foot-11, 270 pounds, the freshman powerhouse is a dominant low-post player who brings a polished offensive skill set to the paint. He’s a solid at rebounder who is able to make passes to open teammates out of double teams, much like Marc Gasol. Okafor’s great footwork around the basket enables him to use his variety of low-post moves with his back to the basket and finish at the rim with ease. He does lack athleticism, which could be troublesome on the defensive end, but that will improve with a higher level of conditioning as he progresses.
Also in the discussion:
Chris McCullough (Syracuse – Forward – Freshman)
Justise Winslow (Duke – Forward – Freshman)
Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia – Guard – Junior)
Trevor Cooney (Syracuse – Guard – Junior)
Jerian Grant (Notre Dame – Guard – Senior)
Aaron Thomas (Florida State – Guard – Junior)
Terry Rozier (Louisville – Guard – Sophomore)
*Section Photo credit to Grant Halverson, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Bob Donnan, USA Today Sports.