No player at the collegiate level has impressed pro scouts and NBA front-office executives more than Davis, who has that rare ability to handle the ball on the perimeter and dominate the post.
In an era where virtually every big prefers to play with his face to the basket, Davis’ back-to-basket skills are incomplete, but he’ll have plenty of time to refine that part of his game in the NBA.
Based on the NBA standings this late into a truncated season, Charlotte will have the best odds to land Davis, followed by New Orleans, Washington, Portland (via New Jersey) and Toronto.
NBA officials aren’t allowed to publicly comment on underclassmen, but it’s no secret that every team would prefer as many underclassmen to declare for the draft as possible.
Getting into the top five does not guarantee anything, but it’s generally acknowledged that the five draft slots will yield the best pro-ready prospect, or at least as best ready as possible.
Jared Sullinger, had he declared last year even with a lockout looming, would have likely be taken among the top-five picks.
This big from Ohio State, which played Cincinnati Thursday night in the Sweet 16, has seen his draft stock sliding.
And this was a prospect who was hailed as a pre-season player of the year.
The more one watches Harrison Barnes, the more you see a kid whose athleticism is now in question and whose desire is being openly questioned.
Still, this North Carolina prospect is an awfully tempting asset to pass up at the next level and he’s among that elite group of five, the others featuring Thomas Robinson of Kansas, UConn’s Andre Drummond and Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Long-suffering fans of the Raptors can only hope the ping-pong balls drop Toronto’s way when the lottery unfolds on May 30.
It would be interesting to see what trade scenarios develop if the Raptors get the first overall pick with the chance to select Davis.
If nothing changes and the Raptors do pick fifth, Kidd-Gilchrist would be the perfect fit for this rebuilding team that has young assets and much-coveted cap flexibility.
A small forward who has overcome family tragedy, Kidd-Gilchrist defends the perimeter like few others in the NCAA and would give the Raptors a presence they haven’t had in years.
Perry Jones III was once linked with the Raptors, but this Baylor big has yet to assert himself, one of the most recognizable names whose draft stock has slid.
Michigan State’s Draymond Green has turned some heads, especially after a rare triple double, while Indiana’s Cody Zeller continues to be a post presence and an intriguing pro prospect.
As the Sweet 16 gives way to the Elite Eight and finally the Final Four, the draft projections inside NBA offices continue, a process that is only now taking shape.
ENNIS NEW JERSEY PLAYER OF YEAR
Add Tyler Ennis to the burgeoning list of Canadian hoopsters whose future looks bright.
A bright kid in the classroom, a floor general on the court, Ennis has been named New Jersey basketball’s player of the year by ESPN/Gatorade, an honour that will resonate on both sides of the border.
“One of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet, a true leader who is calm and poised,’’ enthused Paul Melnyk, who coached Ennis at Henry Carr for two years before Ennis took his act to the U.S.
As soon as Melnyk heard of Thursday’s news, he texted his former player who was 5-foot-7 when Ennis played junior basketball in Grade 9.
Now 6-foot-2, Ennis has drawn plenty of attention from the NCAA’s heavyweight programs.
Bill Diamond, no stranger to big-time hoops, both at the prep and pro levels, was as assistant at
St. Benedict’s Prep.
“Tyler is a pass-first, score-second type of point guard,’’ said Diamond, who represented former Raptors power forward Charles Oakley. “(Ennis) has such a high basketball IQ that he always sees the game two plays before it develops.
“What makes him head and shoulders better than any other high school point guard in North America is that he is humble and hungry, as well as being a tremendous student. He was the only player last year that after every game would ask me what he did wrong and how could he improve. Also, he’s one of the few premier high-school players in the country who watches mainly college basketball instead of the NBA.”
The ESPN/Gatorade player of the year selection process recognizes athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
Ennis, a junior who’s a member of Canada’s under-19 national program, led his team to a 33-2 record while posting averages of 15.2 points, 7.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals.
In the classroom, Ennis maintained a 3.29 GPA and spent time away from school assisting the homeless as a volunteer.