The calendar has officially flipped to May and the NBA Draft is just eight short weeks away. Some prospects are finishing up their final semesters of college (like you and I) while some have already left to prepare for the spring combines (not like you and I).
Earlier, we here at Dorm Room Hoops let you in on who we thought was going to be a reach and eventually be a dud in the this draft class. Now, sit back and learn who this year’s studs are in the 2015 NBA Draft Class.
Justise Winslow, Duke, Freshman
Winslow solidified himself not just as a first round pick, but a lottery pick with several March performances that had many NBA scouts comparing his game to James Harden. While Winslow doesn’t have the facial capacity of Harden, both players had one thing in common coming into the NBA — both were very raw offensively. The 6-6 swingman averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game to go along with a 41.8 3-point shooting percentage in just his freshman season. Winslow very well could be the most athletic player coming out this summer, so if he can mold his game to match his athleticism, the sky is the limit.
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State, Freshman
There might not have been a more exciting player in all of college hoops to watch this past winter than freshman Buckeye point guard D’ Angelo Russell. The 6-5 Russell’s mix of rare athleticism and in-game intelligence makes him the most NBA-ready prospect in this year’s class. Russell’s numbers are fantastic (19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 41.3 3-point %) but his greatest ability is controlling the flow of the game from his point guard position. In today’s NBA, the point guard position is as important as ever. Whoever drafts Russell could be getting the next great floor general.
R.J. Hunter, Georgia State, Junior
Hunter made a name for himself, and his dad/head coach, this past March when he hit the game-winning, 30-foot 3-pointer to beat Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The entire nation fell out of their collective chairs alongside Ron Hunter when that impossible shot went in. Shooting is what is going to make Hunter a late first round pick, and to me, a stud in the NBA. While he might not make many — if any — all-star teams, Hunter’s shooting ability sets him apart from the rest of the 2015 draft class. Don’t get caught up by Hunter’s low shooting percentages at GSU this past season (39.5 FG%, 30.5 3-point %), as he was forced to be responsible for nearly a third of the Panthers’ offensive production. As a young player, the NBA is all about finding your niche. R.J. Hunter very easily could be the next Kyle Korver.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, Senior
Jerian Grant has come a long way since being dismissed from the Notre Dame basketball program two seasons ago. Since then, he has matured and turned himself into one heck of a hooper with First Team All-American, All-ACC, and ACC Tournament MVP honors to his name. The greatest thing about Grant on the court is his ability to score anywhere from it. Want to leave him open behind the arc? Fine. He shoots over 40 percent from deep. Want to pressure him on the ball? Good luck. Grant takes the ball to the bucket better than anyone else in the country. Not only can Grant score from anywhere, but he makes his teammates better, as he averaged almost seven assists per game, as a shooting guard. Grant has the NBA frame (6-5, 205) and the NBA game to go along with his newly found professional mentality. It’s going to be impossible to root against this kid at the next level.
Jahlil Okafor, Duke, Freshman
The past decade and a half has seen teams shift away from selecting players who are ready to play right away to players that need developing. Most times, it’s the big men coming into the Association that struggle the most. They grapple with conditioning for an 82-game season, their footwork is lacking, and they don’t know how to protect the rim properly. Well, forget all about that with Okafor. This kid is the real deal. Okafor has often been compared to Tim Duncan when he was graduating from Wake Forest. But that is the difference here; Duncan left after he graduated. Okafor is just finishing up his freshman season. Okafor has the footwork of a seasoned NBA pro and a touch around the rim and off the block that really does resemble Duncan’s work in San Antonio. Will Okafor wind up being a 5-time NBA champion and all-time great? No telling, really. But one thing is for sure, Okafor is a sure thing come June 25.