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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Our annual March Madness mock draft

John Wall of Kentucky heads the list of NBA-bound collegians.

March 21, 2010|By Mark Heisler

In my annual salute to the NCAA tournament, here's the annual mock draft of draft-eligible collegians, regardless of whether they're coming.

Not that it's a scoop in a year in which everyone has the same top five and in the age of the 24/7/365 draft-nik, when the latest mock is a mouse click away.

The others are weighted according to players' perceived intention. Thus, Kentucky's John Wall is universally No. 1, but the other Wildcats guard, Eric Bledsoe, a possible lottery pick whose intentions aren't as clear, is ranked No. 21 by ESPN'S Chad Ford.

Meanwhile, scouts are flocking to the little-known CollegeInsiders.com tournament to see Marshall's 7-0 freshman Hassan Whiteside, an unknown at the start of the season ... as Coach Donnie Jones locks his phenom down, bringing him off the bench and playing him short minutes in the hope of keeping him next season.

In other words, the situation is fluid, as usual:

1. John Wall 6-4, 195, Fr., Kentucky: Last prospect rated as high was LeBron James.

2. Evan Turner; 6-7, 205, Jr., Ohio State: Compared to no less than Joe Johnson and Brandon Roy.

3. Derrick Favors, 6-10, 246, Fr., Georgia Tech: Didn't challenge Wall as expected but made big late move. Admirers see longer, more skilled Al Horford. Solid young man, good student.

4. Wesley Johnson 6-7, 195, Jr., Syracuse: Transfer from Iowa State who figured out move from power forward to small forward in his year sitting out.

5. Al-Farouq Aminu, 6-9, 210, So., Wake Forest: High-energy, athletic, raw, coming fast.

6. Hassan Whiteside, 7-0, 235, Fr., Marshall: Marcus Camby-style shot blocker with game. Question is why he was off radar in high school.

7. Cole Aldrich, 6-11, 250, Jr., Kansas: Admirers see Joel Przybilla with offense, but not everyone's an admirer. Tourney showing will mean a lot.

8. DeMarcus Cousins, 6-11, 270, Fr., Kentucky: After troubled past, surprised everyone with production. Faded a tad, still deemed risky, making him another one who needs good tourney.

9. Greg Monroe 6-11, 240, So., Georgetown: Skilled, great passer, considered soft but finished strong. Says he'll stay in school, in Hoyas program that keeps outsiders far away.

10. Patrick Patterson, 6-9, 223, Jr., Kentucky: O.J. Mayo's high school teammate, beast inside, handled move to small forward.

11. Ed Davis, 6-9, 214, So., North Carolina: Athletic, long — but not as big or productive yet as Brandan Wright. Top five before breaking wrist. That could be good because he needs to stay.

12. Daniel Orton, 6-10, 250, Fr., Kentucky: Played little coming off knee surgery, but pros know all about him. Big, strong and athletic.

13. Eric Bledsoe, 6-1, 190, Fr., Kentucky: Compact, athletic, supposedly Kyle Lowry with a jumper.

14. Ekpe Udoh, 6-10, 240, Jr., Baylor: Transfer from Michigan, grew up while sitting out.

15. Xavier Henry, 6-6, 210, Fr., Kansas: Lefty who made 42% of his threes, was No. 2 scorer on veteran Jayhawks.

16. Paul George, 6-7, 185, So., Fresno State: Dark horse rising.

17. James Anderson, 6-6, 195, Jr., Okla. St.: Tough, all-around wing player.

18. Mason Plumlee, 6-11, 240, Fr., Duke: Played little, but everyone knows he's someone.

19. Solomon Alabi, 7-1, 251, So., Florida St.: Further along than Hasheem Thabeet — but shorter, not as athletic. Still, nice value this low.

20. Larry Sanders, 6-9, 205, Jr., Va. Commonwealth: Smaller Hassan Whiteside with no questions about his motor.

21. Trey Thompkins, 6-9, 247, So., Georgia: Not just a wide body, has skills.

22. Stanley Robinson, 6-9, 225, Sr., UConn: Great athlete, OK skills. Taller DeMar DeRozan.

23. Quincy Pondexter, 6-6, 215, Sr., Washington: Three-year disappointment, breaking out as senior.

24. Damion James, 6-7, 225, Sr., Texas: Tough rebounder who can make a jumper. Hope is he could be Carl Landry.

25. Avery Bradley, 6-3, 180, Fr., Texas: Athlete who has to be switched to point. Was in teens as 46% three-point shooter before missing 21 of last 24.

26. Dexter Pittman, 6-10, 310, Sr., Texas: Lost 90 pounds — leaving 30 to go. Athletic for a whale. Great projected pick on second round, where he's slated to go in real deal.

27. Kyle Singler, 6-9, 210, Jr., Duke: Struggled with move to small forward but has a chance to move back up with good tourney. Tough kid who'll figure out a way.

28. John Henson, 6-10, 200, So., North Carolina: Can be Anthony Randolph if he learns to shoot.

29. Jordan Hamilton, 6-7, 180, Fr., Texas: Athlete who can shoot.

30. Jimmer Fredette, 6-2, 195, Jr., BYU: Scoring 40-25-37 in last three will get you on radar every time.

Right there: Devin Ebanks, West Virginia; Sherron Collins, Kansas; Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech; Kalin Lucas, Michigan State; Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi St.; Gordon Hayward, Butler; Elias Harris, Gonzaga; Craig Brackins, Iowa State; Jerome Jordan, Tulsa; Willie Warren, Oklahoma St.; Elliot Williams, Memphis; Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt; Dominique Jones, South Florida; Arnett Moultrie, UTEP; Darington Hobson, New Mexico; Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech; Armon Johnson, Nevada, and Greivis Vasquez, Maryland.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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