Grading the Early-Entry Prospects

           The mid-night deadline has passed, giving us our first look at the entire 2011 NBA Draft class. We offer our initial grade on the early-entrants below:

Alec Burks: A

Not only is Burks one of the best athletes in the draft, but he's our top-rated shooting guard as well with his ability to get to and finish around the rim. His biggest weakness is his perimeter shooting, but a team will take a chance on him in the lottery to improve that aspect of his game

DeAngelo Castro: F

Casto was a beast down low last season- averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds on 58 percent shooting from the floor, but he's a bit undersized, his offensive game is still raw and he's had some off-the-court problems. He's likely to go undrafted and play overseas in the future.

Mamadou Diarra: D

The former USC center is a bit of a sleeper prospect for us- long, lengthy 7-footer with upside. He's still about a year away from impacting the game defensively, but had himself a nice Maui Invitational this year against Michigan State and Oklahoma.

Troy Gillenwater: F

The junior forward and New Mexico State' leading scorer and rebounder in '10-'11 diversified his game by adding a perimeter shot to his arsenal, but he's a classic "tweener" at 6'8" with an in-between offensive game and defensive game. His size and lack of athleticism make him a long-shot for the 2nd round.

Jeremy Green: D-

Green was better off heading back to school, but decided he is better off in the NBA Draft. While he is a skilled shooter (knocked down 42.9 percent of his shots from behind the arc), he will measure out smaller than the 6'4" he is listed at, which clearly doesn't help given his lack of athletic makeup.

Jordan Hamilton: A

As expected, Hamilton committed the draft after learning that he would be a lottery pick in the draft. He is one of the best scorers in all of college basketball attacking the rim or knocking down from well behind the 3-point arc. But along with the good, comes the bad as Hamilton lacks the filter to screen good shots from bad at times.

Tobias Harris: A

It was only surprising that Harris and teammate Hopson didn't make their announcements sooner- back in Knoxville, they would have had to learn a new system under new head coach, a handful of new players and probably NCAA punishments. As we continue to watch Harris more-and-more, we love his versatility and could see him rising into the mid-first round.

Scotty Hopson: B-

Hopson was not as fortunate as his Volunteer teammate Harris due to another up-and-down season. While knocking down his perimeter jumper, Hopson is as dangerous as they come, but he would too often go three, four and even five games in a row in a shooting slump. He could be a late-first round pick-up, but more likely to slip into the second round.

Kyrie Irving: A

Irving only played in 11 games this past season, but enters draft season as the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall, even if Minnesota gets the pick. He has the speed, quickness and court vision to be an impact starter in his first season.

Reggie Jackson: B+

Jackson received some great advice in skipping the New Jersey Nets' workout this weekend. He was already touted as a mid-first round talent and could either climb a few spots or drop into the end of the first. In the end, the risk wasn't worth the reward and this long, athletic combo-guard will impress at the combine and in individual workouts.

Terrence Jennings: D+

Jennings has the size and athleticism to be a solid forward in the league, but unfortunately, that's about all that is NBA ready. His strength is sub-par as is his offensive game, leading way to believe he'll go undrafted in this draft. He would have been a prospect to watch for in a year when he graduated.

Cory Joseph: C-

A bit of a surprise here as Joseph had a solid, but unspectacular freshman season. Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson are bolting Texas for the NBA and Joseph could have be the leader of a young and inexperienced Longhorns' team. I think the thing that scared him away was sharing the backcourt with freshman Myck Kabongo in Texas. Joseph needs to continue learning the point guard position and feels that he could best do it as a second-round pick.

Brandon Knight: A-

It's difficult to fault a player when he's essentially a lock to be a top ten pick in the draft. I felt that Knight could have used another year of Calipari's tutelage, especially with his up-and-down Tournament run, but he becomes the fourth straight one-and-done point guard.

Malcolm Lee: B

We love his size, quickness and defensive abilities, but is that enough to compensate for his poor perimeter shooting and lack of game management for the Bruins? He'll likely do pretty well in individual workouts and we could even see him moving up into the first round because of this. It would have been better for Lee to lead UCLA to a Pac-10 title and then come out next year, but this year's lack of depth in the draft has Lee coming out early.

Kawhi Leonard: A

Leonard will be a late-lottery selection with his versatility to play either the 3 or the 4 with his size, athleticism and motor. He'll need to develop a more consistent outside jumper and add some strength in the low blocks to really complete his repertoire.

Travis Leslie: B

Whether Leslie returning to Georgia or not, the strides he makes in developing a perimeter jumper wouldn't have been as impactful as the lack of depth in this year's shooting guard class. Leslie is perhaps the best athlete in the draft and that alone will help him move into the early part of the second-round.

DeAndre Liggins: C+

Even though Brandon Knight stayed in the draft, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller were returning to a loaded incoming class featuring guard Marquis Teague and forwards Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer. Liggins was an impactful defender and role-player last year, but was likely to see a diminished role this year.

Shelvin Mack: B-

Mack felt that he could not do anything more to raise his stock than helping Butler get to two straight national championship games. But his stock is still up in the air- he isn't a great athlete, but still manages to make enough plays to garner some first-round attention.

Darius Morris: D+

Morris needed one additional year and he could have come back to something special in Michigan- an up-and-coming team and a Big Ten that loses some of its top talents this offseason. He has the size, court vision and instincts to be a lottery pick one day, but he's making the jump a bit earlier than we would like. He's a late-first-rounder with potential.

Marcus Morris: A-

Marcus is coming off another terrific season as he jumped out of Cole Aldrich's and Sherron Collins' shadows as the primary player at Kansas. He's one of the most efficient bigs in all of the land and his offensive versatility will land him in the late-lottery to mid-first round.

Markieff Morris: A

Markieff was overlooked in the past, but no more. The taller, stronger Morris twin brother showed off his own inside-outside offensive versatility and gives teams a more steady 4-man than his brother.

Willie Reed: C-

Reed didn't play this past season for violating Saint Louis' honor code, but when we look back to '09-'10, we see a long, athletic 4-man, but still raw offensively. A year off concerns some, but Reed has some "sleeper" value as a late-second rounder.

Jereme Richmond: F

As athletic as the freshman is, he is nowhere near NBA ready. He's long and explosive, but needs to put in a lot of work on his body and improve his perimeter game, which is virtually non-existant. He is underdeveloped as a threat from outside 15-feet and his ball-handling troubles keep him from creating his own shot.

Carleton Scott: F

Scott is nothing more than a role player with a raw offensive game and a whole lot of hustle. He's also a "tweener", as a long, but undersized 4-man and will likely go undrafted.

Josh Selby: D

Selby fell in a big way since the start of the year when he began the year as one of our top point guards and a virtual lock for the first-round. Instead of talking about his talent, we have a suspension, an injury and some major questions about his maturity, decision-making and work ethic. The talent is there, but had he stayed in school another year, Selby could have proved all of his doubters wrong.

Iman Shumpert: C

Shumpert has always had our eye, but like some of the other guards in this draft, he has failed to live up to his hype. He has the ability to lock down on opposing guards, but an inconsistent jump shot and a high-turnover rate has him destined for the second-round.

Chris Singleton: Incomplete

Singleton is a tremendous athlete and one of the best on-ball defenders in the country has his stock at the first-round level, but his inability to score the basketball, from inside or out, has him as a mid-first round pick. His stock stands at the same place as a year ago.

Greg Smith: F

I like his size and potential in the post, but he hasn't shown the motor or aggressiveness to improve at either end of the court. Even if he gets selected, he's a couple years away from contributing in any sense of the game.

Isaiah Thomas: B+

Thomas isn't an elite prospect by any means as he is a likely second-round pick-up, but if he returned to Washington, he would have slid back to the 2-guard, where his stock would have taken a dip back down. When Abdul Gaddy was injured this year and Thomas showed he could move over to play on the ball and he wasn't just a perimeter scorer, his stock soared and he will capitalize by sticking in the draft now.

Trey Thompkins: C+

THompkins is an inside-outside forward, but an offseason injury hindered his development and didn't help to answer questions about his conditioning and motor.

Klay Thompson: A-

Thompson gives this draft a second first-round graded player at shooting guard, but also the best shooting backcourt player in the draft. He can handle the ball  well on the perimeter to set up his jumper or a teammate's. We think that his stock will get a boost over the next couple of weeks.

Tristan Thompson: A-

He was rumored to be in the draft, and then out, and now in again, which gives this draft another lottery-type of talent in the frontcourt. He's a bit undersized and raw offensively, but has the desire, length and toughness to offset.

Nikola Vucevic: B

Vucevic is a name to watch- he's a big, wide body at the 4-spot, but has the developing perimeter game to match his low-post scoring and rebounding. He has the length, but how well he tests athletically (which we know he isn't a great athlete) will do a great deal to his final resting place on our draft boards.

Kemba Walker: A

There is nothing more that Walker had to go back to school to prove and his stock will never be higher.

Derrick Williams: A-

The versatile forward was one of the best players in the nation last year- doing it all for the Wildcats. He's efficient on the offensive end, scoring from both inside and out and providing aggressive rebounding on the glass.

Jordan Williams: C+

Williams is a top-notch rebounder and can muscle his way around in the low-post, but he'll need to develop further offensively and athletically to make an impact at the next level. He won't test all that well, so he'll need to dominate in individual workouts.

By President Corey Ruff - 5-10-11