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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Mark Heisler's annual NBA mock draft

The projected first round is long on college players, short on international talent, with freshmen Kyrie Irving of Duke and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina predicted to go 1-2.

March 19, 2011|Mark Heisler
  • Duke point guard Kyrie Irving races upcourt on a fast break against Hampton in an NCAA second-round game on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.
Duke point guard Kyrie Irving races upcourt on a fast break against Hampton… (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images )

In our annual salute to the NCAA tournament, here's a mock draft of all potentially eligible players.

Heights are as officially listed, meaning everyone is 1-2 inches shorter.

Comparisons to NBA players are made advisedly, with every 6-6 prep wing player like Kobe Bryant billed as "Grant Hill with a jump shot."

Of course, Kobe turned out to be Grant Hill with more than a jump shot.

To quote the great draftnik, Chuck Berry, "'C'est la vie,' say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell."

1. Kyrie Irving, 6-2, 185, Fr., Duke — The one great pick in draft. Admirers see the next Chris Paul (no, really), taller and a better shooter at same stage. . . . In game's worst-kept secret, he's coming out.

2. Harrison Barnes, 6-8, 210, Fr., North Carolina — Do-everything big small forward, generally rated around No. 4 but is breaking out. Rated top freshman in class, he was lost until midseason when they put the ball in his hands.

3. Enes Kanter, 6-11, 260, Fr., Kentucky — Turkish youth star, attended Simi Valley Stoneridge Prep, tore up top U.S. preps at 2010 Hoop Summit. . . . Ruled ineligible, he'll be UK's first none-and-done after all their one-and-dones.

4. Jared Sullinger, 6-9, 280, Fr., Ohio State — Ton of fun, more like 6-7 but admirers see Kevin Love's hands and otherworldly basketball sense, down to the half-the-length-of-floor outlet passes. . . . Not as good a shooter as Love at this stage but has more bounce.

5. Derrick Williams, 6-8, 241, So., Arizona — Released from oral commitment to USC out of La Mirada, no offer from UCLA. . . . Long-armed, ambidextrous around hoop, averaged 19-8, shot 61%, and 61% on threes. Supposedly a lock for top five.

6. Perry Jones, 6-11, 235, Fr., Baylor — Big, athletic but numbers were merely respectable (13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds). Ranked No. 2 by ESPN's Chad Ford but skeptics see Tim Thomas.

7. Jonas Valanciunas, 6-11, 240, Lietuvos Rytas, Lithuania — Just turned 18. Back-to-the-basket player, unlike most Euro-bigs.

8. Terrence Jones, 6-8, 244, Fr., Kentucky — Lefty, Lamar Odom type. Rated No. 2 in mocks early when it looked like he could shoot (37% on threes until mid-January, six for 28 since.)

9. Alec Burks, 6-6, 200, So., Colorado — Athletic shooting guard with playmaking ability.

10. John Henson, 6-10, 220, So., North Carolina — Answering questions about slender physique, averaged 8.5 rebounds in first 14 games, 12.6 since.

11. Kemba Walker, 6-0, 180, Jr., Connecticut — Shot just 43%, 34% on threes but got to line 7.6 times a game. . . . Averaged 26 to lead Huskies to Big East tourney title before half the NBA's GMs.

12. Jan Vesely, 6-11, 240, KK Partizan Belgrade, Serbia — Pau Gasol's long limbs but not his touch.

13. Kawhi Leonard, 6-7, 225, So., San Diego State — Tough small forward, averages almost 11 rebounds. Shooting range expanding; made nine of 24 three-point shots in last 10 games.

14. Tristan Thompson, 6-8, 225, Fr., Texas — Long-armed lefty averaging 2.3 blocks a game.

15. Donatas Motiejunas, 7-0, 225, Benetton Treviso, Italy — Lithuanian has length and touch, has gained weight, needs more.

16. Brandon Knight, 6-3, 185, Fr., Kentucky — Could be eighth Wildcat to go in top 20 the last two years. Wasn't the next John Wall, as billed, but long, athletic, shot 39% on threes and he's an honor student.

17. Jimmer Fredette, 6-2, 195, Sr., Brigham Young — Limited by chunky bod but sensational shooter who can get his shot.

18. JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, 220, Sr., Purdue — Willowy as he is, averages 20.4, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks.

19. Jordan Hamilton, 6-7, 220, So., Texas — Athletic shooter with game. Shed freshman rep as a pain.

20. Marcus Morris, 6-9, 235, Jr., Kansas — Averages 17.3, shoots 59%, 36% on threes, but closer to 6-7.

21. Mason Plumlee, 6-10, 230, So., Duke — Long, athletic. Role player, averaging 5.2 shot attempts, 8.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks.

22. Tobias Harris, 6-8, 225, Fr., Tennessee — Freakish athlete with expanding range.

23. Trey Thompkins, 6-10, 245, Jr., Georgia — Not explosive but has game, finally in shape.

24. Lucas Nogueira, 7-0, 225, Asefa Estudiantes, Spain — Billed as "Brazilian Marcus Camby" since getting 22-14 vs. U.S. in 2010 under-18 tourney.

25. Demetri McCamey, 6-3, 205, Sr., Illinois — Another chunky Illini point, if not in Deron Williams' class. Takes it to hoop, shot 46% on threes.

26. Nolan Smith, 6-2, 185, Sr., Duke — Makeshift point guard but he's a blur who's made 35% of threes.

27. Kyle Singler, 6-8, 230, Sr., Duke — A teens pick last spring. Dropped from 40% to 32% on threes but tough and a winner.

28. Thomas Robinson, Kansas, 6-9, 237, So., Kansas — Raw but exciting athlete.

29. Kenneth Faried, 6-8, 225, Sr., Morehead State — Less refined freak athlete, a.k.a. "6-8 Dwight Howard."

30. Tyler Zeller, 7-0, 250, Jr., North Carolina — Filling out, coming on.

Right there: Justin Harper, 6-10, 225, Sr., Richmond; Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8, 188, So., UCLA; Reggie Jackson, 6-3, 208, Jr., Boston College; Travis Leslie, 6-4, 205, Jr., Georgia; Markieff Morris, 6-10, 245, Jr., Kansas; Josh Selby, 6-2, 180, Fr., Kansas; Chris Singleton, 6-9, 225, Jr., Florida State; Jeremy Tyler, 6-11, 240, Tokyo Apache, Japan.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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