NBA Draft Stock Watch: Jones Up, Taylor Down
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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We’re at the one-month mark of the 2011-2012 NCAA season. That’s allowed us to see most of the top prospects in action multiple times, including in matchups where they go head-to-head with each other. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the draft boards and a select few who have gone up, down and maintained their position in our monthly stock watch:
Perry Jones III (Baylor) – 6’11, 234 lbs. Forward
Suspended for the first five games of the season due to a NCAA violation he committed last year, Jones finally was back in action this past Tuesday. Within five minutes it was very clear why Jones is regarded as one of the top prospects in the nation as there is simply nothing he cannot do on the floor. Against an overmatched Prairie View A&M squad that had no hope of defending him, Jones went off for 27 points (on 10-14 shooting from the field) and six rebounds.
At 6’11 with his ridiculous skill set, Jones can easily put himself back into the top-overall pick discussion as long as he continues to stuff the stat sheet and make winning ball games his number one priority. His team proved that they can win without him, but his presence is what could be the difference maker against elite-level teams, which they have yet to face yet.
Terrence Ross (Washington) – 6’6, 195 lbs. Shooting Guard
Looked at by many as a freshman poised to break out in his second year of eligibility, Ross has done just that for the Huskies six games into the season. He’s the team’s leading scorer with 16 points a contest and is also second in rebound, grabbing 6.7 nightly.
Ross obviously did a stellar job of preparing himself for an expanded role this season as the growth in his game is evident. One of the areas where he has noticeably improved is in his three-point shooting. Ross is now knocking down two threes a game on 39% shooting. He’s still got a way to go in that department, but it’s encouraging to see the development he’s already displayed.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky) – 6’7, 235 lbs. Small Forward
The 2011 recruiting class was highly-touted coming into this season that it was easy to forget about Kidd-Gilchrist at times with all of the other potential stars. However, his play so far this season has help vault his stock to just about as high as any other first-year player in the nation.
If Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t such as suspect shooter, there would be a serious shot at him entering the top five. Unfortunately, his stroke possesses a noticeable hitch that is going to need to be changed at some point. He’s knocking down 38% of his threes so far this year, but he’s not comfortable shooting from distance.
His incredible athleticism and the intensity in which he plays with more than makes up for the fact that he’s not Steve Kerr from beyond the arc. As long as he maintains his current level of play, Kidd-Gilchrist will be a lock to go in the lottery.
Terrence Jones (Kentucky) – 6’9, 252 lbs. Power Forward
In order to make some serious movements up the draft boards from where he was at the beginning of the season, Jones really needed to surpass what he did as a freshman. He’s yet to do that, still hovering around the 15 points and eight rebounds that he averaged last year.
From a leadership standpoint Jones has done a nice job and it should be noted that he is shooting nearly 10% higher from the field than he did last year. That alone isn’t enough to justify moving him into the top seven, which is where a NBA front office member told him he would go if he stayed in school another year.
Harrison Barnes (North Carolina) – 6’8, 215 lbs. Small Forward
Do not mistake this for a plea for more from Barnes. He’s producing as expected for the Tar Heels. He’s just not moving up the draft boards yet because he hasn’t done enough to surpass the big men who are ranked ahead of them.
Fact of the matter is, he may not pass them up no matter what he does on the court if the teams picking in the top spot need a big man more than they need a small forward like Barnes. Where he is really going to make up ground and make his case for the top spot is at the NCAA tournament. Until then, he’ll really only have down to go.
Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) – 6’1, 195 lbs. Point Guard
One of the biggest surprises this year has been the senior slump that Taylor is currently enduring. Expected to have the best year of his career this season, Taylor’s averages are actually significantly lower than what they were his junior year. He’s seriously regressed as a shooter, something he couldn’t afford to do since it wasn’t the strength of his game beforehand.
There’s still a long time left in the season, but Taylor has to step it up or else he’ll be another one in the long list of seniors who have drastically hurt their stock during their final year.
Renardo Sidney (Mississippi State) – 6’10, 270 lbs. Center
Honestly, it’s a bit surprising in itself that Sidney is still at Mississippi State. There were rumors swirling around the program prior to the start of the season that he would not be returning. He’s still there, although, it’s kind of hard to say whether or not that is a good thing right now.
Bulldogs head coach Rick Stansbury is still waiting for Sidney to play like the blue-chip recruit he was touted to be going into college, or even as good as he was late last season. That just hasn’t happened yet. Sidney has been a little bit banged up and does not appears to be in good shape at all. Right now is Moultrie doing all the heavy lifting, while Sidney is working himself into shape.
Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota) – 6’8, 240 lbs. Power Forward
It’s really disappointing to have to put Mbakwe on this list, because had it been written a week ago he would have been in the up section. Unfortunately, Mbakwe tore his ACL this past week, which not only ends his senior season but likely his career as a Gopher.
There is a chance that he could get a sixth year of eligibility, but odds are that Mbakwe will just enter the draft and hope that a team will take a chance on him like they did with Da’Sean Butler when he went through the exact same situation. The difference between the two is that Mbakwe could be healthy enough come May to participate in some workouts and prove to teams that he’s healthy.
Five Games to Watch: 12/6: Marquette vs. Washington (9 PM EST), Missouri vs. Villanova (7 PM EST). 12/7: Arizona at Florida (7 PM EST). 12/8: Harvard vs. Connecticut (7 PM EST). 12/10: Ohio State at Kansas (3:15 PM EST).