Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
I talked to two veteran NBA scouts today about the upcoming college basketball season and, specifically, about Friday night’s Kentucky-Maryland matchup at the Barclays Center. Thirty-one (31) NBA scouts and executives are credentialed for the game.
One of the guys I spoke with is a veteran scout and the other is the Director of Scouting for another team.
Here’s their take on various aspects of the game:
ON THE TIMING OF THE GAME AS THE SEASON-OPENER
“It’s really unfortunate that the game isn’t taking place in later December rather than now because there aren’t going to be many times that [Nerlens] Noel and [Willie] Cauley-Stein go against size. It will be a good test for the big guys. Noel going against that length and size will help. So [Maryland’s 7-foot-1] Alex Len, some people like him, this will be a good test for him. But it’s unfortunate that it’s early.
“My guess going in is that Kentucky will win fairly easily only because I would guess that they’re probably more jelled together than the Maryland guys are now even though they’ve been together longer. I think the talent alone [makes the difference for Kentucky].”
–Veteran NBA Scout
ON THE ADDITION OF DEZ WELLS TO MARYLAND
“[Maryland] now has a high-level backcourt with Dez Wells and Nick Faust. I mean, that’s a terrific backcourt. Both those kids could play in the league maybe. That took their team to another level in my opinion. That kid’s a good player.”
— Director of Scouting
ON THE BACKCOURT MATCHUP
“It’s gonna be a good battle. The backcourt is going to be interesting becauseFaust can play and Wells can play going up against [Ryan] Harrow and going up against Archie Goodwin. Julius Mays, we’ll see if he’s healthy or not.”
— Veteran NBA scout
Kentucky coach John Calipari said on a conference call Thursday that Harrow (flu-like symptoms) and Mays (knee) may not play.ON WHO’S THE BEST NBA PROSPECT IN THE GAME
“I don’t know that [Noel] is the best prospect on the team. I think that Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein are both better. I think Willie might be a better prosepct than Nerlens at the end of the day. Longer, more athletic, runs the floor better.”
— Director of Scouting
“I think the X-factor is going to be [Kentucky forward Alex] Poythress, who I think is the best prospect of anybody on that team that Kentucky has. Yeah, I do.
“He’s got a great body. He can play the three and four. He’s gotta be more of a consistent shooter from the perimeter and then he’s gotta raise his level of intensity every day to know that he could be the best player. But potentially with his body, his athleticism, his size, he’s a prototypical small forward who in the NBA now can swing down to a four against smaller lineups. He’s powerful, he’s athletic, he can run, he jumps. His shot isn’t broke but he needs to work on his 3-point shot and his game off the dribble. He’s good.”
— Veteran NBA Scout
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.