NBA draft breakdown: The top 10 shooting guards

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All this week at CBT, we’ll be spotlighting the top players at each position for the 2012 NBA draft. Monday featured the top point guards. Today? The shooting guards.

1. Bradley Beal, Fr., Florida: Beal’s always been a star, but he showcased more than his shooting skills with the Gators. An overabundance of scorers often forced Florida coach Billy Donovan to play Beal on the wing or even at power forward at times and he responded by leading them in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and was second in scoring (14.8 ppg). The only surprise was his perimeter shooting. Beal’s often compared to Ray Allen for his poise and pure shooting stroke, but Allen never shot worse than 40 percent beyond the arc in college. Beal made just 34 percent of his 186 attempts, a number that must improve. Still, if there’s a can’t miss guard in the draft, it’s Beal. He plays smart, plays hard and is a true talent.

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2. Jeremy Lamb, So. Connecticut: Lamb looks like an NBA star. Long, lean with surprising quickness and a solid shot, he could step in as a team’s second or third option right away – if he feels like it. Passivity has always been Lamb’s biggest issue. That he rarely forces shots is both his biggest strength and weakness. Could he be a star? Absolutely. But he’d have to want to be a star. On a team that likes using pick and rolls, he’ll average 15 or more as a rookie.

3. Austin Rivers, Fr., Duke: Unlike Lamb, there’s no question Rivers wants to be a star. His lightning-quick crossover is perfect for the NBA, he boasts the range and the knack for hitting game-winners. But is Rivers’ too aggressive and too willing to go one-on-one with defenders? He’ll quickly adjust to the NBA’s speed and physical style and there’ll be night when he shines. Question is, what happens on the nights when he can’t connect? Can he contribute in other ways?

4. Dion Waiters, So., Syracuse: The 6-4 specimen reportedly has a promise that’ll he be a lottery pick, which means someone will add a player who can overpower most shooting guards. Waiters is strong, excels at getting into the lane and creating his own shot. His college production (12.6 ppg) doesn’t do his skills justice, mostly because he was willing to be part of the Orange’s system. The only problem? Waiters is a bit short and he doesn’t boast a strong perimeter game.

5. Terrence Ross, So., Washington: The 6-7 Ross also would thrive on the wing, but his frame is probably better suited to an NBA team’s backcourt. When Ross’ jumper is falling (45.7 percent and 51.8 percent on twos), he’s deadly. He’ll slash in the lane, pull up for a jumper or attack the rim. His confidence and game developed rapidly in just two years at Washington. What’s the limit once he hits the pros?

6. John Jenkins, Jr., Vanderbilt: Need a guy to stretch the defense? Jenkins is your man. He’s a little slow and not overly athletic, which might limit his role in the NBA, but his shot can’t be questioned. With a little more work on his ball-handling, Jenkins could have a long, productive career.

7. Orlando Johnson, Sr. Santa Barbara: Johnson was a prolific scorer the last three years and delivered when it mattered for the Gauchos, leading them to two NCAA tournament appearances. But he’s a volume scorer who has average size and athleticism.

8. Doron Lamb, So. Kentucky: Consider Lamb at this spot a bargain. He’s Jenkins, but with a better shooting stroke. If he lasts into the second round and Cleveland gets him, that’s instant offense off the bench. A smart contender – like Chicago or Miami – would be even smarter to nab him at the end of the first round.

9. Jared Cunningham, Jr. Oregon State: No guard prospect boasts more athleticism than Cunningham. He’s not overly skilled, but would be an immediate boosts as a defensive player and spark off the bench. His shot and ball-handling need work, but this might be the player with the most upside in this group.

10. Will Barton, So., Memphis: Barton’s game might be better suited for the wing given that his perimeter stroke is inconsistent. But he’s got the quickness to play the 2 and can get to the rim when he wants.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.