We didn’t even get through the month of July before the NBA talk started up once again regarding Gator basketball standouts Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer. It was Horford’s sterling play during the NIKE All-American camp that got NBA folks talking all over again.
According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, Horford is now viewed as a top five pick in the next NBA draft after reminding at least one scout of Karl Malone during the week up in Indianapolis.
Horford was one of a group of college stars who worked with young campers during the day and competed head to head at night. He has a combination of athleticism and energy that is hard to top. Add in his subtle passion for the game and his feel for how to play and you have an NBA power forward in the making.
Ford, by the way has ranked his top 100 prospects for the 2007 NBA draft and has Noah at # 3, Horford # 5 and Corey Brewer at # 16. He wrote an interesting comment about Brewer. “Brewer didn’t fare as well as some of the other players here, in part because a camp like this isn’t really going to show off his skills. Brewer is a long, active defender who is all over the court and scores in a variety of ways. He wowed people at the NCAA Tournament but at Indy (the camp, not the Final Four) there was heavy focus on his on-again off-again jump shot, rail thin body and shaky ball handling.
That evaluation is a really important one because it points out that turning down a likely mid-to-late first round pick doesn’t guarantee anything for the following year. While Brewer probably would have been chosen in the 18-25 range last year he can go in either direction next go ‘round.
And that applies to Noah and Horford, too. While those guys have immeasurable potential, they, like every players before them can slide if they lose any aspect of the work ethic and focus that got them where they were the day they hoisted the trophy.
Some Rules Would Be Nice
I have no doubt that Billy Donovan can handle the increased expectations for his team and get his guys to focus on the job at hand. And I think the players will be fine, especially since Donovan and staff will be running them ragged day in and day out. The interesting thing will be how we media types handle it. Will Noah, Horford and Brewer be asked weekly about their decision to stay in school? Will they be asked weekly about the next NBA draft and what the think about pro ball in ’07? Jeez, I hope not.
Maybe we can agree to address those topics once before the start of the season, again the pre-conference schedule and one more time prior to the NCAA Tournament. Think we could agree to something like that? Nah!
Other “Ranking” Tid Bits
Taurean Green was rated the # 89 prospect for the NBA draft, giving the Gators four guys in the top 100. The only SEC team with more than two was Alabama with Ronald Steele (#13), Jermareo Davidson (#23) and Richard Hendrix (#79). Florida and Alabama should be strong favorites to win their respective SEC Division races, but the Crimson Tide will have a tougher battle with LSU than the Gators will with Kentucky or Tennessee.
The game with Kansas out in Las Vegas might be the best group of talent in any single-season game all year. The Jayhawks has an amazing SEVEN players rated in the top 100, led by power forward Julian Wright who is listed at # 8. Three other Kansas players are in the top forty with Mario Chalmers at # 26, Brandon Rush at # 27 and CJ Giles at # 40. Here’s another tid-bit about Florida and Kansas, Jayhawks junior center Alexander “Sasha” Kaun is ranked # 61 and was a high school teammate of Gator guard Walter Hodge at Florida Air Academy.
Other “ranked” players of note include LSU’s Glen “Big Baby” Davis who comes in at # 28 and Tasmin Mitchell at # 70. Florida State forward Al Thornton is projected as # 41 for ’07 draft.