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Freshmen to dominate top of '08 draft
1) Derrick Rose, 6-2, 180, PG, Fr., Memphis The Simeon High (Ill.) product will be an immediate star for John Calipari. He knows how to make people better, can get into the lane and finish and also is able to knock down shots from the perimeter.
2) Michael Beasley, 6-8, 225, PF, Fr., Kansas State Beasley's talent is undeniable. He's a versatile and skilled forward who can dominate a game when he wants to. The Maryland native played at Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) last season and should be one-and-done in Manhattan.
3) Eric Gordon, 6-3, 190, SG, Fr., Indiana Kelvin Sampson won a battle with Illinois for the North Central High (Ind.) standout. Gordon is a big-time scorer who can fill it up in just about every way possible.
4) Roy Hibbert, 7-2, 270, C, Sr., Georgetown The Hoyas big man opted to return for his senior season, and if he continues his rapid improvement, Hibbert could turn into a top-five pick because of his size.
|Staying in school could vault Georgetown center Roy Hibbert near the top of the 2008 draft. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)|
5) Darrell Arthur, 6-9, 215, PF, Soph., Kansas "Shady" is extremely talented, and fans will see it even more this season with Julian Wright in the NBA and Brandon Rush recovering from a torn ACL. Arthur is multi-dimensional and athletic.
6) Brook Lopez, 7-0, 230, PF, Soph., Stanford He wasn't at 100 percent for much of his freshman campaign due to a back injury. He's skilled and has tremendous potential. Can step out and shoot the ball, block shots and run the floor.
7) Chase Budinger, 6-7, 190, SF, Soph., Arizona Extremely athletic and probably could have been a first-rounder this past year. Needs to work on becoming a better defender and also needs to learn to take over a game. However, he can shoot the ball from the perimeter and also put it on the floor.
8) O.J. Mayo, 6-4, 190, G, Fr., USC Mayo is the most highly touted of all the freshmen, but he's got some baggage. It's unlikely he'll play at the Galen Center for more than a year. The former Huntington High (W.Va.) star is extremely talented and can play either backcourt spot.
9) DeVon Hardin, 6-11, 230, C, Sr., California Hardin was injured for most of his junior campaign and was torn whether to remain in the draft. He made a smart move and will have an opportunity to go in the lottery next year because of his athleticism on the frontline.
10) Hasheem Thabeet, 7-2, 265, C, Soph., UConn The Tanzanian thought about coming out after his freshman season, but made the right choice heading back to Storrs for another year. He's a big-time shot-blocker, but needs to learn the game especially on the offensive end.
11) Nicolas Batum, 6-8, 210, SG-SF, France The 18-year-old wing had 23 points against the USA at the Nike Hoop Summit this past April. He is long and can shoot it from long range. He is arguably the best European prospect in next year's draft.
12) Darren Collison, 6-1, 165, PG, Jr., UCLA Collison may not be quite as quick with the ball as Ty Lawson, but he's still pretty darn fast and he's a better shooter from the perimeter.
13) Victor Claver, 6-10, 220, PF, Spain Plays for Parmesa Valencia and is a skilled power forward who can step out and make shots. He's athletic, handles the ball well and runs the court.
14) Robin Lopez, 7-0, 235, C, Soph., Stanford Not quite as skilled as his twin brother, Robin is more of an inside presence. He's still got a ways to go offensively, but he's an athletic 7-footer who can rebound and block shots.
15) DeAndre Jordan, 7-0, 235, C, Fr., Texas A&M; The Houston-area big man didn't play against much competition in high school at Episcopal, but he'll have NBA folks drooling because of his length and athleticism.
16) D.J. Augustin, 5-11, 175, PG, Soph., Texas It wasn't just Kevin Durant in Austin last season. D.J. Augustin had a terrific season, too. He shoots the ball well and knows how to run a team. Not quite as athletic as Mike Conley Jr., but is a better shooter.
17) Shawn James, 6-10, 225, PF, Jr., Duquesne The former Northeastern star bulked up this past season while sitting out due to transfer rules. He's extremely athletic and is arguably the best shot-blocker in the country. If Sean Williams can be chosen 17th with his baggage, why can't James?
18) Ron Steele, 6-2, 185, PG, Sr., Alabama Last year was a wash-out for Steele, who battled through knee problems. Steele should be at 100 percent for next season and he'll reclaim his status among the elite point guards in America.
19) Paul Harris, 6-5, 220, SG, Soph., Syracuse Harris has a year under his belt and the Orangemen lose their entire frontcourt. He'll need to make better decisions and improve his shot, but there's no one out there with more toughness in the backcourt.
20) Ty Lawson, 5-11, 175, PG, Soph., North Carolina The ultra-quick floor leader still needs to work on his perimeter shot, but it wouldn't be much of a surprise if he bolted Chapel Hill after his sophomore season next year.
21) Donte Greene, 6-8½, 220, PF, Fr., Syracuse He's a poor man's Kevin Durant, is long and can really shoot it from long range. He needs to add strength so he can score around the basket, but he's intriguing because of his skill set for his size.
22) Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9, 230, PF, Jr., North Carolina "Psycho T's" stock will be the same whenever he comes out, but this year's draft is certainly not as loaded up front as this past year's. He won't be able to overpower people in the pros as he consistently does in college, but NBA execs love him for his motor.
23) Danilo Gallinari, 6-9, 210, SF, Italy Plays for Armani Jeans Milano in Italy and is a complete player who has a high basketball IQ. Think Toni Kukoc. Can get to the basket and passes the ball well, but isn't a big-time athlete.
24) Taj Gibson, 6-9, 220, PF, Soph., USC The Trojans' long and athletic big man is older than his peers, so don't be shocked to see him leave after two years at USC. He's a New York native who can run the court well, block shots and rebound the ball. His offense is still a work in progress.
25) Earl Clark, 6-7, 215, SG, Soph., Louisville Don't be shocked to see the multi-dimensional Clark, who sat on the bench for the first part of last season, shoot up the charts. He's long, can handle the ball and his shot has improved.
26) Derrick Caracter, 6-9, 270, PF, Soph., Louisville You can question his work ethic and his attitude, but it's impossible to question his ability.
27) Jerryd Bayless, 6-2, 180, G, Fr., Arizona He's a big-time scorer who will need to improve his decision-making with the ball in his hands. It'll be somewhat of a surprise if he sticks around Tucson for more than one season.
28) Anthony Randolph, 6-11, 220, PF, Fr., LSU Long and extremely athletic, Randolph is an exceptional talent who is raw, but NBA scouts could grab him based on potential. He is still rail-thin and will need to play hard all the time.
29) Ante Tomic, 7-2, 230, C, Croatia The Croatian big man who plays for KK Zagreb withdrew from this past draft. He's skilled, but needs to become a better rebounder and more physical. He's just not strong enough to make an impact just yet in the NBA.
30) Bill Walker, 6-6, 215, SF, Soph., Kansas State Walker is one of the most athletic players anywhere. He suffered a torn ACL after just a handful of games last season at K-State, but he'll still be someone who is drafted fairly high because of his explosiveness.