Looking to the Future: A Star Rises

Published: January 21, 2012

We look at all the developments in college basketball this week that could impact the Hornets draft, including the ascent of Thomas Robinson.

The Hornets head into tonight’s match-up with the Mavericks with a record of 3-12, which is dead last in the Western Conference and just one game ahead of Washington for worst record in the NBA. While it is true that there is still a long season ahead of us, the fact remains that the 2012 draft will be crucial to the Hornets rebuilding process, and therefore it is crucial that we are all as informed as possible heading into this potentially franchise changing day. So why not start now?

The Week that Was:

The biggest development of the week was the dominating performance by Thomas Robinson in the Kansas Jayhawks 92-74 win over Perry Jones III and #3 Baylor. Robinson was a man amongst boys, dropping 27 and 14, but as impressive as those numbers were, the little things really sell you on Robinson if you watch him closely. First of all, he doesn’t turn the ball over even though he touches it quite a bit. Just 2 turnovers in his last four games- that’s one every 56 minutes played. He also seems to understand defensive rotations and never forces anything on the offensive end. Robinson started the year off as a potential late lottery pick; he is now a lock for the top 5. Watch close Hornets fans, this could be our PF of the future. If we could only be so lucky.

Perry Jones III was not exactly a slouch in the big game of the week, but a General Manager is going to have some explaining to do if he drafts Jones over Robinson this June. It was clear who the superior player was on that night, so the only way Jones gets picked first is if a team falls in love with his upside. Jones is taller, longer, and younger than Robinson, but it is hard to imagine that Jones could dominate a game the way Robinson did, even if you gave him another year.

Andre Drummond had another disappointing game in a loss this week to unranked Cinncinnati, going 2-9 and scoring just 4 points while pulling down 6 rebounds. People who argue that Drummond should be the #1 pick say that he can be the next Amare Stoudamire, but Amare averaged 13.5 points and 9 rebounds a game his first year out of high school, and that was against NBA competition. Drummond can’t even come close to matching those numbers against the likes of Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Cincinnati.

Oh, Anthony Davis. Do I secretly pray every night that thy name cometh across David Stern’s lips after he speaks the words, “With the first pick, the New Orleans Hornets select….”? Maybe I do. Maybe I pray for world peace. Either would make me equally happy. Just another day at the office for Davis as he posted 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks in a win against Arkansas. Just 19 games into the season he set Kentucky’s single season block record and at this pace he will jump into the top five in CAREER blocks at UK after just one season.

After an embarrassing performance against Florida State last Saturday, UNC bounced back with a fairly impressive win against Virginia Tech in a game that saw their two potential lottery picks play well. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points, while John Henson put up 16 and 16 in the win. They also effected the game defensively, as Henson racked up 6 blocks and Barnes contributed 3 steals, but neither guy got an assist despite playing a combined 66 minutes. I don’t know if those are the kind of “team ball” players Monty and Dell are looking for.

The other lottery pick vs. lottery pick match-up saw Jared Sullinger’s Buckeye’s crush Cody Zeller’s Hoosiers, much to Eric Gordon’s dismay. Sullinger had an average game (for him), as teammate Lenzelle Smith was simply on fire. It’s nice to see that Sullinger doesn’t mind taking a back seat to a hot teammate. Last year Ohio State needed him to be dominant to win, and he was happy to oblige. But this year they are simply more talented and he doesn’t force anything.

Meanwhile, Zeller was the lone bright spot for the Hoosiers, going 7 for 9 and scoring 16 points. Unfortunately he was in foul trouble for a large portion of the game and couldn’t be as aggressive as he would have liked. So far these two have gone head to head twice, and I scored it a draw both times. Sullinger looks like he can be a rich man’s Drew Gooden in the NBA, while Zeller has a higher ceiling due to his length and athletisicm. It will be interesting to see which one of these two is selected first next June.

My Hornets Big Board:

Not necessarily my ranking of best prospects in a vacuum. Instead, I will project the Hornets board on a week to week basis from 1-14.

1. Anthony Davis

2. Andre Drummond

3. Thomas Robinson

4. Perry Jones III

5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

6. Jared Sullinger

7. Bradley Beal

8. Jeremy Lamb

9. Harrison Barnes

10. Cody Zeller

11. John Henson

12. Tony Wroten, Jr.

13. Arnett Moultrie

14. Terrence Jones

Three Games to Watch:

1. #5 Missouri @ #3 Baylor- Today, 2:00 PM on ESPN

Perry Jones gets another shot against a highly ranked conference opponent. Missouri has a lot of firepower, but is one of the worst rebounding teams in the entire country and Jones needs to take advantage of that if we are going to believe he can be a force down low in the pros. Missouri is a team chalk full of seniors, and a dominating performance in this game would keep Jones in the discussion for top 3 pick.

2. #13 Indiana at Wisconsin- Thursday at 9:00PM on ESPN2

Wisconsin likes to slow the game down because they don’t have the athletes to play a run and gun style. They also don’t have the size to keep teams off the boards, so Zeller needs to impose his will in this game and show that he can be a force on both ends of the court. Against this same Wisconsin team, John Henson posted 17 rebounds and 5 blocks. If Zeller wants to show he is truly a lottery pick like Henson, we need to see similar numbers.

3. #14 Florida at Ole Miss- Thursday at 7:00 PM on ESPN2

Florida has really struggled on the road this year, and freshman phoenom Bradley Beal has been no exception. Ole Miss is a tough place to play, and NBA scouts know that, so it would be huge if Beal can go in there and shoot lights out. He seems to have found his three-point stroke as of late and he has been getting to the line as well in his last two games. If Beal can continue those trends, he could be the first guard off the board in the 2012 draft.

Looking to the future is a weekly column that posts every Saturday only on Hornets247. For past articles, click here.



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