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May 9, 2010

Which early entrant will be second to Wall as rookie?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a current topic in the sport. We have two questions this week - one Saturday and one today.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Take John Wall out of the equation. Which early entrant do you think will have the biggest impact in the NBA as a rookie?

Even if the question included John Wall, I'd consider Ohio State's Evan Turner. Point guards - and specifically John Calipari's point guards - have made huge impacts in recent seasons, but Turner could end up being the more valuable rookie. Turner's biggest value is his ability to play so many positions. Of course, a team picking him high in the draft is weak in several areas. The team that takes Turner likely will need him to fill a handful of roles, and Turner should be up to the challenge.


I'm going with Syracuse's Wesley Johnson. He's older than the typical underclassman (he's 23), and he has a nice offensive game. While he's not that big (6 feet 7/198 pounds), I think he can play small forward as well as shooting guard. While he can get better in getting to the rim off the dribble, he has a nice outside stroke and good range. I think he can be a 13- or 14-points-per-game guy as a rookie, then eventually average in the high teens.


Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson might surprise some people during his first NBA season. Patterson flew under the radar as a junior amid all the hype and hoopla surrounding Wildcats freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Still, there aren't many players in this year's draft as seasoned and mature as Patterson, who is known for his outstanding work ethic and his ability to accept coaching. Patterson is an extremely smart player -- he'll receive his Kentucky degree after just three years of college -- who could see significant court time early in his career. That he showed an ability to play away from the basket in 2009-10 will only help his draft stock. Patterson won't be viewed as a "project" like so many of the other players in this year's draft. He's ready to make an immediate impact in the NBA, although he'll probably have to do it as a reserve coming off the bench.


Ohio State's Evan Turner seems like the obvious choice here. Wall and Turner clearly were the two best players in college basketball this season, and they also seem like the top two pro prospects. While Wall might have a little more upside at the next level because he's more of a pure point guard, Turner also should be able to come in and make an immediate impact. The guy's versatility should make him a natural fit for just about any franchise, and his experience should allow him to make a relatively seamless transition. I think Wall and Turner clearly are the top two guys. Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins and Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors also eventually should develop into solid NBA players, but I think it might take those two freshmen a little more time to make an impact.


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