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June 27, 2008

New freshman class has NBA potential

Is it too soon to talk about the 2008-09 freshman class?

Hardly, especially not the day after the NBA Draft in which five of the first seven picks were one-and-done players.

Since the NBA instituted a minimum-age requirement of 19 two years ago, the NBA Draft has become a sort of freshman prom, with young men putting on their best suits and hoping some NBA team will take them home.

With that thought in mind, let's take a look at the five incoming freshmen most likely to be one and done and at or near the top of the 2009 Draft.

One and done?
1. B.J. MULLENS, 7-1, center
COLLEGE: Ohio State
BUZZ: Mullens is the top-ranked player in the class, and our recruiting experts simply don't miss on No. 1. It was Michael Beasley last year, Greg Oden the year before, Dwight Howard in 2004 and LeBron James in 2003. Mullens' combination of size, speed and shooting touch will have NBA execs tripping over themselves. Oden progressed nicely in his one injury-abbreviated season in Columbus, and Mullens almost assuredly will do the same. Depending on need, he has a good chance to be the No. 1 overall pick next year.
2. DEMAR DEROZAN, 6-5, shooting guard
BUZZ: Someone will need to replace the scoring the Trojans lose in one-and-dones O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson. DeRozan, one of only two rising freshmen invited to the Nike Paul Pierce Skills Academy, easily can be that guy. He already can score off the dribble and has an excellent mid-range game. He also has an NBA-ready body.
3. BRANDON JENNINGS, 6-0, point guard
COLLEGE: Arizona? European pro league?
BUZZ: Jennings is a whippet. His end-to-end speed with the ball is something to behold. The lefty can penetrate and create, and he also can finish on his forays to the basket. Once he becomes more consistent from long range, it's hard to imagine him not being the first point guard taken next year.
4. TYREKE EVANS, 6-6, combo guard
COLLEGE: Memphis
BUZZ: The other freshman invited to the Pierce camp steps into the void left by superstar Derrick Rose with a monster game of his own. Evans is long, strong and a great finisher around the rim. He simply knows how to play and gets the most out of his skill set. Actually, the most appropriate comparison is to NBA Finals MVP Pierce.
5. SCOTTY HOPSON, 6-5, shooting guard
COLLEGE: Tennessee
BUZZ: He has major bounce, a quick first step and a nice pull-up game off the dribble. He can fill the lane on the break, and he's capable of taking the ball himself on the runout. The Vols lose Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith, meaning there will be a ton of shots available in Knoxville.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.

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