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.
NBA Scout: Towns is Kentucky’s Best Prospect ‘and It’s Not Close’; Harrisons Look Like Borderline First-Rounders
Karl Anthony-Towns is Kentucky’s best NBA prospect by far and Andrew and Aaron Harrison look like borderline first-round draft picks, one veteran NBA scout who was at Kentucky’s combine over the weekend told SNY.tv.
“Karl Towns is their best prospect and it’s not close, it’s not close,” said the scout, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he’s not permitted to comment on draft prospects.
“He’s only going to get better. Outside of [Duke’s Jahlil] Okafor, those are probably the two best big offensive players in college. He’s that good. At 6-11, 7 feet tall, he’s got a lot of offensive talent, he really does. He can score from the perimeter and he can score down on the block. He can do both. He’s very talented, very talented.”
The big man from St. Joe’s-Metuchen in New Jersey is projected as the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com. He also tested well, according to the data obtained by DraftExpress.
“Karl Towns was Kentucky’s longest player posting a 7’3.25 wingspan at 6’10.25 without shoes and 250-pounds,” wrote Jonathan Givony. “His measurements are consistent with the numbers he posted at the last two Nike Hoop Summits. His athletic testing, however, were fairly impressive, as his maximum vertical is just an inch lower than the marks posted by Cody Zeller and Joakim Noah when they were coming out of college. Towns has never been known as a high-flyer, and it will be fascinating to see if his impressive testing here is a sign of how his body is progressing in a college strength program.”
The scout said he thought Willie Cauley-Stein, projected as the No. 10 pick, also has size and shot-blocking ability that translate to the next level.
He measured 6-11.25 without shoes with a 240-pound frame and 7-2 wingspan.
“When he plays and applies himself he’s really good. He’ll give you spurts when he’s blocking shots,” the scout said.
After those two, there appears to be a drop-off with the other players simply potential roster players in the NBA.
The scout said he thought Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress are all borderline first-round or surefire second-round picks, while freshmen Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis are “players to keep an eye on.”
As for the Harrisons, the belief is that they’ve succeeded so far because they’ve been bigger and stronger than many of their opponents and can get by on those assets, which may not translate as well to the NBA, while their are serious concerns about their defense.
“Aaron’s going to be drafted higher than Andrew because he can shoot and maybe someone takes Aaron in the first round becasue he can make shots, but I think they’re both very average,” the scout said. “Average athletes, average defenders.
“Andrew, I don’t think he’s improved much from last year. Aaron’s a big shotmaker. they’re going to get better because they’re a year older but I think Tyler Ulis runs their team better than Andrew Harrison.”
As for Johnson, his body looked great — he measured 6-11.25 in shoes with a 7-0.25 wingspan and a 255-pound frame. He also had a 34-inch maximum vertical leap
But there are concerns about his lift and his feel for the ball, and it remains unclear if he has a translatable NBA skill. He could be backup center in the NBA, but likely not a starter.
Here’s a few more thoughts from the scout:
Alex Poythress: “I don’t think he’s a first-round pick but somebody may like him because of his athleticism and his body, but he’s a 4 trapped in a 3’s body, that’s his biggest problem. He doesn’t really have true 3 skills, but he’s a good college player for them because he’s a tremendous athlete.”
Devin Booker: “I think Devin Booker’s gonna be good over time, he’s got great size for a two guard. I think he’s going to be good over time.”
Marcus Lee: “Marcus Lee’s going to help them tremendously. I don’t know if he’s an NBA player but he’s going to help them. He’s got great energy, shot-blocking, you trust him. He works his butt off. He’s just a really good college player. It’s hard for Cal to keep him off the floor because he’s that good. There’s nothing wrong with being a good college player, and I think that’s what he is.”
Trey Lyles: “He is going to be a good player for them at the 3/4. Tough, skilled kid who has a chance to be a pro down the road. Not a one-and-done guy.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.