NBA Draft

Everything You Must Know About NBA Prospects at State Farm Champions Classic

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterNovember 11, 2013

Everything You Must Know About NBA Prospects at State Farm Champions Classic

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Whoever put this event together deserves some type of prize or medal. 

    The 2014 State Farm Champions Classic will showcase four premier college basketball schools and a whole lot of future NBA ballers. 

    It's just a one-night event on Tuesday, Nov. 12, opening with No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by No. 4 Duke versus No. 5 Kansas at 9:30 p.m. ET. These two games alone will be showcasing the potential top three picks in the 2014 NBA draft. 

    With over a dozen legitimate pros, the State Farm Championship Classic is an absolute must-watch for NBA fans.

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8'', SF, Freshman

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Ceiling: No. 1 Overall

    He's the top prospect on the planet. 

    If you're unaware of Andrew Wiggins by now, then I'm going to assume this current moment is your first time using the Internet. 

    Wiggins enters his freshman year with enormous hype and megastar expectations. He certainly has the tools and talent to make it happen.

    You won't find a more potent blend of athleticism, quickness and hops. And at 6'8'' with a 7'0'' wingspan, he's got textbook measurements for a wing. 

    Physically, the only things missing are the pounds, which he's likely to add over the next few years. 

    An electric scorer and dynamite defender, Wiggins has legitimate two-way upside and franchise-player potential. He's the heavy favorite to go No. 1 in the 2014 draft.

Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF, Freshman

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Top Three

    Jabari Parker might actually be better than advertised.

    He was outstanding in Duke's opener vs. Davidson, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-10 from the field and a number of high-IQ passes. 

    As a scorer, Parker was knocking down pull-ups and step-backs like a seasoned NBA veteran. He also showed off his underrated athleticism on a jaw-dropping alley-oop high above the rim.

    Extremely advanced offensively, there isn't a spot on the floor he's uncomfortable operating from. Whether he's facing the rim, playing back-to-the-basket or spotting up behind the arc, Parker is a threat to score on practically every possession at multiple positions.

    But Parker is more than just a scorer. He's a team-first guy who seems to make something positive happen whenever he touches the rock. 

    When you combine his skill set with the intangibles he brings to the table, along with a 6'8'', 235-pound body, you're left with one hell of a prospect. 

    He's the most polished and versatile offensive player in the country and a potential NBA franchise player when it's all said and done.

Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF, Freshman

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Top Three

    Julius Randle might be the most unstoppable offensive force in college basketball.

    At 6'9'', 250 pounds, Randle has the body to play back-to-the-basket, along with the handle and foot speed to square his man up. He's a bully down low and shifty off the bounce attacking the rim. 

    Randle has the ability to take over a game on the interior, both as a scorer and rebounder. Though it's just been two games against mediocre competition, he's averaging 22.5 points and 14.5 boards on 21-of-27 from the charity stripe. 

    With a natural outside stroke, a relentless motor and competitive edge, there's really not much to nitpick at. 

    Expect Randle to be in the running for National Player of the Year, as well as remain in top-three draft conversations from now until late June.

Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0'', C, Freshman

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Top Three

    Andrew Wiggins has cast a large enough shadow to hide 7'0'' Joel Embiid, who might be the most overlooked prospect in the country. 

    Embiid just started playing basketball a few years ago, though you wouldn't know it from watching him play. Physically, he's a beast with a 250-pound muscular frame and a gigantic 7'5'' wingspan. And though still raw as a scorer, Embiid shows some awfully impressive footwork in the post for a guy his size. 

    He's got a great feel for the rim inside the paint, along with the confidence and skill set to step outside and knock down a catch-and-shoot jumper.

    Offensively, he's got serious long-term upside. Defensively, he's an immediate impact player.

    Embiid isn't likely to get as much burn as the other top prospects in the field, but he won't be hard to miss when he's in. He's our top center prospect in the nation.

Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6'', PG, Freshman

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Top 10

    The top point guard in the 2013 recruiting class, Andrew Harrison is now the engine that makes Kentucky go. 

    And at 6'6'', 215 pounds, we're talking about a powerful diesel engine.

    Harrison plays completely under control, excelling at running the offense and managing a game. He's exceptionally refined, from his handle and dribble creativity to his pull-up and attack game. 

    Though not necessarily what you'd call a breakdown guard, given his lack of blow-by quickness, he still has sound passing instincts and a natural ability to facilitate. 

    As an NBA-draft package, you won't find much to dislike. Harrison has loads of potential thanks to his advanced offensive game and size for the position. 

    He'll likely challenge Marcus Smart for first American guard off the board in 2014.

James Young, Kentucky, 6'6'', SF, Freshman

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Top 10

    With so much talent around him, some people might be sleeping on James Young's NBA outlook.

    Young is awfully smooth offensively with a sharp-shooting lefty stroke. He can knock them down in the mid-range or behind the arc, as well as finish at the rim in the open floor. 

    Athletic wings with size who can defend and light it up from the perimeter are always attractive NBA prospects. 

    With a developing in-between game and a refined overall skill set, he appears ready to play a huge role in Kentucky's offense right away. Look for Young to put up some big scoring numbers this year and generate lottery whispers for himself in the process.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C, Sophomore

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Lottery

    Willie Cauley-Stein returned for his sophomore year, likely a good move from both a developmental and draft-stock standpoint.

    He's a ridiculous athlete at 7'0'' with long arms and wide-receiver-like mobility and coordination. 

    Practically automatic finishing around the rim, Cauley-Stein will look to expand his low-post repertoire this season. He's got touch in the paint, but creating his own shot will be the challenge moving forward.

    An underrated interior passer, monster presence on the glass and reliable rim-protector, he's got tremendous potential once he adds a little polish to his offensive game.

Wayne Selden Jr., Kansas, 6'5'', SG, Freshman

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Lottery

    Just another McDonald's All-American in the State Farm Champions Classic. 

    Wayne Selden is a strong 2-guard with ideal size at 6'5'', 230 pounds. With good scoring instincts and deceptive playmaking ability, Selden can beat defenders in a variety of different ways.

    Athletic though not explosive, Selden appears to sometimes operate in slow motion, though he does so effectively. 

    The key for Selden will be shooting consistency. He can create and make shots from all over the court, but he's a little prone to cooling off from outside. 

    Still, he offers big-time potential long term, given his size and offensive game.

Marcus Lee, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF, Freshman

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Lottery (Projected 2015)

    It's more likely Marcus Lee is a two-year college guy, but he's still worth keeping tabs on early. 

    A big-time athlete with a wingspan that stretches over 7'1'', Lee is active and effective when dealing in the paint. 

    He went for 17 points in just 15 minutes against UNC-Ashville as the recipient of a number of dump passes inside. 

    Though raw, he's got a good feel around the rim and knows how to position himself for easy catch-and-dunk opportunities. 

    It's going to be tough for him to get enough playing time to shine on a routine basis, but Lee's development is certainly worth watching from an NBA perspective.

Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4'', SG, Sophomore

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-First Round

    Gary Harris returned after a strong freshman year, and now has some expectations to live up to. 

    He looked pretty darn sharp in Michigan State's opener, finishing with 20 points, 10 boards and six assists vs. McNeese State.

    Harris is an opportunistic scorer—he's not much of a one-on-one threat; rather, he scores as a spot-up shooter, finisher on the break and anywhere in between that doesn't require many dribbles. 

    He's one of those high-IQ, mistake-free players who rarely takes a bad shot or a possession off. 

    His size and limited shot-creating ability should keep him outside the lottery, but he'll be a nice potential pickup for a playoff team later in the first round.

Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6'', SG, Freshman

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-First Round

    Aaron Harrison plays off the ball alongside twin brother Andrew, where he's a scoring threat and playmaker in the open floor. 

    He's more of a shoot-first combo guard who can light up the nets from the perimeter, as well as generate offense by creating off the dribble. 

    And that's where his appeal lies as an NBA prospect. Harrison projects as an offensive specialist who can put points on the board in a hurry. 

    He struggles at times finishing in traffic, but look for Harrison to do most of his damage around the arc and on the break.

Perry Ellis, Kansas, 6'8'', PF, Sophomore

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-First Round

    Perry Ellis might be Kansas' most fundamentally sound offensive player. He's tough in the post, with the strength to back down opponents and the touch to finish over the top. 

    Ellis can also play at the high post or work the pick-and-pop game with a good-looking mid-range jumper. 

    He lacks that standout athleticism and explosiveness, and he's slightly undersized for an NBA power forward. But what Ellis lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with foot speed, ball-handling and a great feel for the game. 

    Expect Ellis to be Kansas' most consistent guy throughout the year and earn some NBA draft buzz in the process.

Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke, 6'4'', SG, Sophomore

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    Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-First Round

    Though he doesn't do anything spectacular, Rasheed Sulaimon is simply a complete two-way guard. 

    He's an excellent shooter, having knocked down 37 percent of his threes last season. Sulaimon can also put it on the floor and pull up for a jumper or take it strong to the rack for a line-drive bucket. 

    With good lateral quickness and an active motor, he also does a solid job of securing the perimeter as a defender. 

    He went for 20 points and seven boards in Duke's opener, and appears ready to roll in his pursuit of a first-round guarantee.

Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF/PF, Sophomore

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-First Round

    With huge expectations, Alex Poythress failed to maximize his NBA draft stock as a freshman. 

    This is now a big year for Poythress, who will have to show scouts what he brings to the table—something I'm not sure he did in 2012-13. 

    A terrific athlete with strength, Poythress is slightly undersized for a power forward but lacks the skill set of a wing. 

    He's a strong finisher inside and has shown some promise as a spot-up shooter. Now it's time he adds a little something in between.

    If Poythress can become a bigger threat off the dribble, he might have a shot at reviving his NBA draft stock.

Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8'', SF, Sophomore

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Ceiling: Mid-to-Late First Round

    Rodney Hood sat out last season after transferring over from Mississippi State, and now he appears locked in for a major role in 2013-14. 

    The smooth lefty went for 22 points and nine boards on 9-of-10 shooting in the opener, scoring in a number of different ways throughout the night. 

    Hood is lethal from outside, but can also take his man off the dribble and knock down runners with touch on the move. 

    At 6'8'', he's got good size for the NBA wing, which, combined with his scoring instincts and jumper, makes him a prospect to keep an eye on.

Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10'', PF, Senior

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    Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Ceiling: First Round

    Adreian Payne broke out last year down the stretch, putting that terrific NBA frame to use offensively. 

    Massive up top with long arms and broad shoulders, he's a handful to contain on the interior. Payne has soft hands and an active motor, which at 6'10'' is always an appealing combination. 

    As Payne's confidence rose last year, so did his outside-shooting accuracy. He became a legitimate spot-up threat from behind the arc, and now appears ready to offer first-round value. 

    He'll be the key for Michigan State this season in what will be his last opportunity to make a standout impression on scouts.

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