It's almost February and it's around that time that the best players in college basketball start to be considered for NBA rosters. With that in mind, I will unveil 5 players that should be at the top of every NBA scout's list when evaluating all players around the nation. Keep in mind, these are players that may not have the best statistics currently in college, but are best suited for the NBA right now and have the highest upside/potential to reach the hall of fame.
5. Ben McLemore (20) PG/SG Kansas
McLemore, a redshirt freshman, has really emerged up a ton of draft boards thanks to superb play so far this season. The 6'5" shooting guard has NBA scouts drooling because he is playing as good as any player in the nation right now and can do so many things well. He's an explosive athlete with good size, excellent shooter with great range, can defend multiple positions and is a scorer. At 20 years old, there is a lot of great basketball left in his career and many expect him to declare for the draft after a long NCAA tournament run by Kansas. Some teams would like him to become the ultimate scoring PG, which I think he could become one day but might better be suited as all-around 2 guard. Needs to add some weight/strength but he has high ceiling.
4. Alex Len (19) C Maryland
Len, the tallest player on this list (7'1") is a tremendously skilled big man on both sides of the ball. Size is always a huge commodity in the NBA and so perhaps Len should be a little higher. Len, a sophomore, is a very good offensive player, with a very soft touch near the basket and an emerging mid-range shooting game. He has a very high IQ which aids him in being a very skilled passer for a big man. For a 7-footer, he is a better than average athlete and superb rebounder and shot blocker. The only knock is that he may need to add more muscle (as most college players need to) so that he can be more ready to play in the NBA right away. He is more cornerstone player than project but may need time to adjust to physical style of NBA basketball.
3. Nerlens Noel (18) C Kentucky
Noel, the #1 rated HS player coming into this year's recruiting class, is #1 on a ton of NBA scouts draft lists. The freshman fits the bill because he is an extremely curious, yet physically astounding specimen. He doesn't have Len's size, but he is the more mobile, better defensive center of the two. Len's offense tops Noel's but Noel's upside as a defensive monster and game changer is far greater. Noel is a terrific athlete and rivals former Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis in the blocking category. Both are considered as game changers on the defensive side with developing offensive games. There is no doubt in my mind that Noel will be at worst a 15-9-2 guy in the NBA with the potential to be a 22-15-4 player with a relentless motor and dominant defense. Despite an underwhelming freshman season so far, he is one to watch for come draft day as the #1 pick and will most likely be in the draft.
2. Anthony Bennett (19) PF UNLV
Bennett is without a doubt the most athletic of all the players on this list. Coming into this year, he was a top 10 freshman, but has risen his stock even higher with consistent, dominant play. Huge wing span, elite leaper and great rebounder for his size (6'8"). Despite him being undersized, he makes up for it with the great motor. Very good shooting range and effective low post game. He has potential to be perennial 25-10 guy each year. Needs to work on offense. Defense isn't great. Could use more effort there to enhance value.
1. Shabazz Muhammad (19) SF/SG UCLA
Of all the players on this list, Muhammad has the best chance of being the best scorer and star player of the bunch. At 6'6", the freshman might be a little undersized for the 3, but he could potentially be a taller 2. At whatever position, Muhammad is an excellent attacker of the basket and a very physical player. He is the best finisher of the group and is right there with the rest in terms of athleticism. Very good defender and rebounder. Needs to improve getting others involved and shooting but overall and well-rounded player. Do-it-all wings in the NBA are rare so he fits right in here at #1. Wouldn't be surprised if he was an eventual a 25-5-5 player in his prime.