With No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis officially in uniform for the New Orleans Hornets, all 30 NBA teams are now eyeing the top prospects for the 2013 NBA Draft.
Next year’s draft night will almost assuredly involve Indiana big man Cody Zeller. At 7 feet tall, Zeller actually plays well on both ends of the floor. Some analysts have even projected that he could accomplish a feat only performed twice in the last quarter century -- being chosen as the national player of the year, win the national championship, and subsequently become the No. 1 selection in the draft. Only Danny Manning in 1988 and Davis in last year’s draft have done all three in the last 25 years.
It certainly has been awhile since Zeller’s Hoosiers were in the national title picture, but last season’s success, including a win over eventual champion Wildcats last December, will help them move closer to that goal this year. A championship run would certainly put Zeller directly in the spotlight as well.
After drawing comparisons to Carmelo Anthony, UCLA guard/forward Shazbeez Muhammad should also be a highly touted prospect.
A truly explosive athlete, Muhammad displayed excellent perimeter defense in high school and is known to dive for loose balls as well as being able to scratch and claw his way to open shots. However, as with any player leaving after only one year of college ball, he will still obviously face a learning curve on the NBA level.
North Carolina sophomore James Michael McAdoo will also be closely watched this season. McAdoo certainly has the pedigree to be a successful NBA ball player. His father Ronnie played for Old Dominion, while his cousin, Bob, is a former UNC All-American and Hall of Fame inductee. He was a role player last year behind 2012 draft picks John Henson and Harrison Barnes, but this will be his year to prove that he’s ready for primetime.
Another sophomore forward, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, has caught the eye of NBA scouts because of his length and defensive prowess. Described as similar to Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince, Porter would probably be expected to add more weight and muscle if teams are going to give him serious consideration as a lottery level pick.
Following in the footsteps of the 2012 No. 1 selection, Kentucky big man Nerleans Noel is a great shot blocker and defensive minded player who will likely be picked early if he decides to leave the Wildcats after this freshman year. But Noel still has room to grow on the offensive side of the ball and he’ll be playing in Lexington with a team that got most of its core ripped up after the 2012 draft.
Providence Friar Ricky Ledo is also a promising prospect, despite coming from one of the small schools in the Big East. Reminiscent of former USC guard O.J. Mayo, Ledo shows great versatility on the court, including great ball handling and scoring ability.
One of the lone graduating seniors expected to be taken next summer will be Mason Plumlee, brother of 2012 draft pick Miles Plumlee.
The 6-foot 10-inch forward averaged nearly a double-double last year at Duke and ended up as the ACC’s third-leading rebounder.
With the 2012 draft now in team’s rear-view mirrors, coaches and general managers will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on players believed to be the league’s stars of tomorrow.