Indianapolis, IN – The State Farm Champions Classic featured some of the top NBA prospects in the country on Tuesday. We take a look at some notable performers from the event that featured Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, and Kentucky.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Now a junior, Cauley-Stein has remained a steady shot blocking presence inside. The athletic 7-footer had seven points and 10 rebounds with an assist, block, and steal. The scouting report has been similar throughout his career as a defensive presence inside. He can boost his stock by adding some low post moves.
Branden Dawson, Michigan State: Dawson showed elite athleticism with a pair of alley-oop finishes and some eye-popping rebounds. He scored 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go with nine boards. The senior is a bit of a tweener at forward due to his 6-foot-6 height, but he has a good frame that allows him to compete down low. He has good hands and runs the floor well. Dawson should be a second round pick in this year’s draft.
Aaron Harrison, Kentucky: Considered to be one of the top shooting threats on Kentucky’s roster, Harrison was 3-of-8 from the field and hit 2-of-3 three-pointers. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard finished with eight points, two assists, and two rebounds. He’s a physical sophomore that will be needed to stretch defenses this season.
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky: The other Harrison had 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting including a 2-of-2 display from behind the arc. It was a great showing for Harrison, as he also dished four assists and grabbed two rebounds. As a quality ball handler with good size and strength, Harrison has a high ceiling. If he can continue to shoot it well, a breakout sophomore year could be in store.
Dakari Johnson, Kentucky: Johnson had a team-high 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He has great size as a 7-footer, but lacks the athleticism to be a shot-blocking presence inside. The sophomore will draw most of his intrigue from his low post ability.
Tyus Jones, Duke: In an efficient display, Jones knocked down 4-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-3 three-pointers, in a win over Michigan State. He finished with 17 points and dished four assists without committing a turnover. The 6-foot-1 freshman shows good poise at the point guard position, but lacks great size or athleticism. This hurt him on the defensive end as he sometimes struggled to keep quicker guards in front. His offensive savvy could warrant a first-round selection.
Marcus Lee, Kentucky: Lee is a high-energy big man with tons of athleticism. He only scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting, but grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots in the win. The sophomore can still add muscle to his slender 6-foot-9 frame, but the talent is there. As a fluid athlete that runs the floor well, it was a good showing from Lee.
Jahlil Okafor, Duke: As the leading candidate for the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft, Okafor proved the hype was warranted on Tuesday. He had 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting along with five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. The nimble 7-foot center is a mismatch against any defender in the post. Teams will struggle to contain Okafor this season due to his dominating size and footwork. He did commit three turnovers and had just one assist, but that’s an area he’ll improve on throughout his freshman year.
Kelly Oubre, Kansas: After playing just four minutes against UC Santa Barbara, Oubre started against Kentucky and had an efficient display. The 6-foot-7 southpaw scored six points on 2-of-3 shooting and connected on his only three-point attempt. He added four rebounds and a steal on the defensive end. Oubre has the potential to become a high-scoring wing, but only time will tell as he’s played just 17 minutes this season.
Karl Towns, Kentucky: Towns may be the only collegiate prospect that will give Okafor a run for the number one pick in the upcoming draft. The 6-foot-11 freshman scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds, three assists, and four blocks. He’s shown the ability to stretch the floor in the past, but impressed on Tuesday due to his play in the post. He had a right-handed hook shot and showed the ability to find the open man when double-teamed. Defensively, he showed decent athleticism and protected the rim.
Justise Winslow, Duke: While Okafor and Jones were ranked higher on most recruiting lists entering the season, Winslow made his case as a potential lottery pick. The 6-foot-7 wing had 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists in the win and has the looks of a one-and-done prospect. He uses his athleticism and wingspan to excel on the defensive end while he can handle the ball and attack the rim offensively. He even connected on a three-pointer in two attempts. Winslow can improve in his efficiency, as he shot 4-of-11 from the floor, but the tough, defensive minded freshman has the makings of a future NBA glue guy.
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