Jackson: A look at potential top NBA picks

1-10
Here’s a way-too-early look at the potential top 10 picks in the 2014 NBA draft:

1
Andrew Wiggins,
Kansas

The freshman will look to make it two straight Canadians to go No. 1.

2
Julius Randle,
Kentucky

The forward is expected to be the latest Wildcats freshman to hear his name called very early.

3
Marcus Smart,
Oklahoma State

Point guard surprised most by coming back for his sophomore year, bypassing a weak draft.

4
Aaron Gordon,
Arizona

The freshman power forward is a freak of an athlete who plays with a high motor.

5
Jabari Parker,
Duke

Two-time News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year might opt to play two years for Coach K.

6
Andrew Harrison,
Kentucky

Point guard and his twin brother, Aaron, will each likely end up as lottery picks.

7
Mitch McGary,
Michigan

The big man had a coming-out party in the NCAA tournament and is expected to have big sophomore campaign.

8
Montrezl Harrell,
Louisville

The “L” in his name is silent, and he had a silent freshman season playing behind Gorgui Dieng but will break out this season.

9
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan

Big Dog’s son will have an increased role as a sophomore this season, especially if he develops his jump shot.

10
Isaiah Austin,
 Baylor

The big man surprised folks by coming back for his sophomore year because he would have been a lottery pick.

3 pointers

What’s happening outside Champaign-Urbana:

1 Trouble continues to follow Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson. The Rebels’ rebel, a voluminous and streaky shooter, was entertaining in averaging 20 points per game while leading Ole Miss to an NCAA win. But he’s a hothead with a history of drug-related issues that followed him into this offseason. The senior-to-be was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Multiple reports say the suspension of Henderson — who played at Utah, Texas Tech and a junior college before his stint in Oxford, Miss. — is related to failed drug tests. Another report said he was pulled over in May with marijuana and cocaine in his vehicle. He’s tested positive for each drug in the past. He appears to have a serious problem and needs help. His college basketball days could be over, and a stint in a rehabilitation facility could be in order. Some fans will miss his flair, but the most important thing for Henderson is to get the help he seems to desperately need.

2 Last week, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said guard Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome compound leg fracture in the Cardinals’ Elite Eight win against Duke, could return to the court as soon as October. There was fear the injury would be career threatening and, at the very best, the 6-foot-2 guard would miss the early part of the season. But Ware has been riding a stationary bike, and Pitino said the bone is healing just fine and Ware could be cleared to work out within the next month. That’s great news for the reigning national champs, who will attempt to defend their crown, and even better news for a young man who handled a devastating situation like a champ.

3 The Big Ten is being well represented at the World University Games, with four of the league’s players playing major roles for Team USA. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, Iowa’s Aaron White and the Indiana duo of Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell are representing the conference in Russia. So is Michigan coach John Beilein, an assistant on the Team USA staff led by Davidson’s Bob McKillop. Kind of strange that Beilein is spending time coaching up Payne, who plays for his program’s bitter rival. After one game, Beilein told reporters he was planning to sit down with Payne to help the big man learn how to stay out of foul trouble. No surprise there. Beilein is as classy a guy as there is, and Payne has built a reputation as a good guy. The strangest development, however, is Beilein as an assistant. In 32 years of coaching, the 60-year-old never before had been an assistant.

3 questions for ... public address announcer Mike Cation

Tell me about your new job.
I’m employed by a production company called Pizzazz Productions, but I will be on the USTA Challenger circuit through most of the year doing play-by-play live streaming. I was contacted at the NCAA tournament, and they asked if I’d be interested in doing this. I made sure it worked with all my announcing I do here at the University of Illinois. There might be one or two basketball games that I miss. That would be the first time I missed a game in my seven years. It fits well with my PA announcing schedule, and I just travel throughout the country and watch some tennis.

How long have you been involved with tennis?
I actually played tennis in high school at Urbana and took lessons from Craig Tiley, and he remembered me when I came back and started working in radio in Champaign and got me involved with tennis. That was the first sport I did PA work for back in 2001.

With so many new names on the basketball roster, have you begun to practice how you’re going to say guys’ names?
Right before I talked to you was the first time I went and looked at the roster. It’s going to be really interesting to get used to everybody. I’ll probably be at the first couple of practices just to get to know everybody a little bit and matching the names and the numbers up before the first game so that I’m good to go.
 

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IlliniMike05 wrote on July 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

Austin might've ended up being a lottery pick, but he was projected in the 20's for most of the year. He's an interesting player with an intriguing perimeter skill-set for a legit 7-footer. But he has to get a lot stronger and figure out what he is; the super-tall guy with perimeter skills fad kind of died out awhile ago. The NBA isn't getting bigger; any desire to play a Jonathan Bender type at small forward is long since gone. The NBA is getting smaller, faster and more interchangable. If he can be a legit stretch 4 who also has the length and wherewithal to be a rim protector, great. But that's a tough double to pull off, and he has to get a lot more efficient.


Also not sold on Aaron Gordon as a top five pick yet. NBADraft.net, for example, has him going No. 24. He's another guy who has some freakish abilities but on the NBA level, what he ends up being is uncertain. Does he have the perimeter skills to be a 3, or even a small-ball 4? Because he's closer to 6'7" than 6'10", making any Blake Griffin comparisons pointless. Those kinds of forwards are en vogue these days to play the 4, but unless you're Bron/Melo/KD, not as a franchise-type player you'd hope to be drafting this high in a draft this loaded. I think his best-case is Shawn Marion if he develops a usable jumper, a small-ball power forward who wreaks havoc on bigger guys with his athleticism and skills. But worst-case? NBA Dunk Contest winner who never finds an NBA niche. If it turns out he's 6'9", top five pick. If he's 6'7", uh-oh.