Friday, April 18, 2014

The 2014 NBA draft tracker: Jabari Parker continues to shine as others have ups and downs

By Jay Yeomans, For the Deseret News

Published: Sat, Dec. 28 11:52 p.m. MST

 Duke's Jabari Parker (1) and Rodney Hood (5) celebrate against UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, in New York.  Duke won 80-63. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Duke's Jabari Parker (1) and Rodney Hood (5) celebrate against UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, in New York. Duke won 80-63. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

(Jason DeCrow, AP)

Every big-time NBA prospect in the college game has been on the floor in the last couple of weeks with varying results. While players like Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Julius Randle have looked good, some have had their struggles. With an ever-changing list of players moving in the latest mock drafts, here is a look at the players from the NCAA who could end up in a Jazz uniform a season from now.

Jabari Parker, Fr., Duke: The Blue Devils had two games since the update and Parker played well in both. Against Gardner-Webb, Parker played just 26 minutes, but still managed to put up 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go along with six rebounds.

In his game three days later against UCLA, he really showed off his all-around game in an 80-63 victory. Parker made 4 of 8 from 3-point range and all five of his free-throw attempts on the way to 23 points. Parker also tallied 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season while setting a new career high in assists with five.

Of the players projected to go in the top 10 in the draft, Parker is the most polished to this point.

Rodney Hood, So., Duke: Hood didn't have his best two games by any stretch of the imagination against Gardner-Webb and UCLA. He shot a combined 11 for 26 from the floor and just 3 for 13 from distance while scoring 29 points. He did make all of his free throws and grab 10 rebounds in the two contests, but because of his shooting woes, Hood's scoring average dropped to 18.5 points a game. Even after this little slump, Hood is still shooting 55.4 percent from the field for the 9-2 Blue Devils.

Andrew Wiggins, Fr., Kansas: after a two-game losing streak, the Jayhawks bounced back nicely in defeating the New Mexico Lobos and the Georgetown Hoyas. The same can't be said for Wiggins, however. After two of his better games of the year in the losses to Florida and Colorado, Wiggins really struggled offensively in his latest two games.

In the 80-63 win over New Mexico, Wiggins shot just 3 for 11 from the floor and finished the night with 11 points. As always, he was solid on the defensive end and finished with four rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes on the floor.

Against the Hoyas, Wiggins wasn't much better. In the Jayhawks 86-64 victory, Wiggins was 3 for 10 from the floor and 4 for 4 from the line and finished the game with 12 points. Although he finished with a career-low one rebound, Wiggins did hand out four assists and have three steals. Even though he struggled with his shot, Wiggins finally showed some visible fire and intensity, which hasn't been very evident so far with Kansas.

Joel Embiid, Fr., Kansas: Embiid played two of his best games of the year and is starting to shows flashes of his enormous potential. Against the Lobos, Embiid set a new career high with 18 points while missing just one shot from the field the entire game. He also grabbed six rebounds, blocked four shots and recorded three steals in 25 minutes of play.

Against the Hoyas, Embiid was also impressive. In just 21 minutes on the floor, Embiid scored 17 points and added eight rebounds in the Jayhawks blowout win.

Aaron Gordon, Fr., Arizona: We were able to see all sides of Gordon in the Wildcats last three wins. Against Michigan, Gordon did a bit of everything in their comeback win. He showed nice touch from the floor making 7 of 11 shots as well as registering five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.

In the Arizona 69-43 win over Southern, Gordon showed how he could dominate the paint and score almost at will, finishing the night with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field in just 29 minutes. In that game he also showed us one of his game's biggest deficiencies. Gordon made just 4-of-10 attempts from the free-throw line and is shooting just 45.2 percent from the stripe on the season.

In the Wildcats' 77-44 victory over Northern Arizona, Gordon didn't have a great night making just 3-of-8 shots and turning the ball over three times. He finished the game with nine points and five rebounds. After a dominating start to the season on the glass, Gordon dropped off significantly as of late. He hasn't registered more than five rebounds in any of his last four games.

Marcus Smart, So., Oklahoma State: The Cowboys had three games in the last two weeks and Smart made solid contributions in all of them, even though his scoring output wasn't all that impressive. In the Cowboys 70-55 win over Louisiana Tech, Smart filled the stat sheet with 13 points, five assists, five rebounds four steals and two blocks. In a huge win over No.-20 Colorado Buffaloes, Smart had another noteworthy performance. He scored 18 points and handed out three assists as Oklahoma State came away with a 78-73 victory.

Smart is continuing to show his ability to be a great lead guard on a top team with each passing game and is proving he made the right choice to return for his sophomore year of college.

Julius Randle, Fr., Kentucky: Randle had the worst performance of his young college career in a loss to North Carolina but was able to bounce back in a monster way against Belmont. In an 82-77 defeat at the hands of the Tar Heels, Randle made just 3-of-9 shots from the field on his way to 11 points as well as grabbing a season-low five rebounds and turning the ball over four times.

He was much better in the 93-80 win over Belmont even though he fouled out. Randle shot 8 for 10 from the field and registered 29 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of play against the Bruins.

James Young, Fr., Kentucky: Young hasn't shot the ball well as of late, making just 5-of-15 shots over the last two contests including 2 for 8 from 3-point range. Although he finished with 16 points, five rebounds and two steals against North Carolina, Young made just 3-of-10 shots from the field before fouling out.

In the game versus Belmont, Young played his fewest minutes of the season (20) by a wide margin and attempted a season-low five shots.

Andrew Harrison, Fr., Kentucky: Although he struggled with his shot, Harrison had an impressive performance in the loss to UNC. Although he shot just 3 for 11 from the field, Harrison scored a season-high 17 points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out seven assists.

He didn't do much against Belmont finishing the game with seven points and two rebounds in 20 minutes of play.

Aaron Harrison, Fr., Kentucky: Harrison was about the only Wildcat who played well in both games over the last two weeks. Harrison shot 8 for 12 from the floor and made all of his free-throw attempts against the Tar Heels to finish with 20 points to go along with three rebounds and two steals.

Against Belmont, Harrison was even better. He put up 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the 13-point win over the Bruins.

Glenn Robinson III, So., Michigan: Robinson played well as the Wolverines split their last two games. In a heartbreaking two-point loss at home to No.-1 ranked Arizona, Robinson shot 8 for 9 from the field and finished with 20 points in 37 minutes of action.

In a three-point win over Stanford, Robinson also shot the ball well from the floor. He was 6 for 10 from the field, but made only 50 percent of his free throws. Robinson also added six rebounds, two assists and a steal against the Cardinal.

Gary Harris, So., Michigan State: After missing three of four games, Harris was back on the floor against the Texas Longhorns and provided much-needed scoring in the 92-78 Spartan victory. Although Harris attempted just eight shots against the Longhorns, he was able to score 19 points thanks to his ability to get to the free-throw line where he shot 10 for 11. He did more than just score, however, as Harris handed out five assists for the 10-1 Spartans.

Noah Vonleh, Fr., Indiana: Vonleh played well when he was on the floor, but didn't see many minutes because of constant foul trouble as the Hoosiers won two of their last three games. In those three contests, Vonleh scored 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the floor and grabbed 24 rebounds while collecting 12 fouls in 60 minutes of play.

The one part of his game that was noticeably absent during the last few weeks was his ability to get to the free-throw line. Vonleh went to the stripe just nine times over three games.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports

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1. DEW Cougars
Sandy, UT,
Dec. 28, 2013

Jazz may not get the top draft choice when comes to Lotter Time. Will Jabari be available when draft come? Well, it depends, he might stay another year at Duke or he could go on a mission. I am not saying he should go on a mission but it is possible which is up to him and up stairs.

Man, imagine if he had chose to play at BYU, yeah I can dream on.

2. PMSmith
SANDY, UT,
Dec. 28, 2013

He's not going on a mission - he made that clear when he entered college and passed up on mission u in provo!!

Look for him in the NBA next year.

3. morpunkt
Glendora, CA,
Dec. 29, 2013

The impending NBA contract money will be climbing even higher for Jabari in the next few months. Wow.

4. Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO,
Dec. 29, 2013

Actually PM Smith Jabari both stated when he entered Duke that he had not decided one way or the other (but was leaning towards going, says he really wants to) AND had Coach K make clear that if he chose to do so he would be supported in this decision (which Coach K did; not a stretch given players in the ACC who 1 and done, or 2 and done... 1 and gone and then returned would fly fine).

And yes, I think he'll go.

5. JBQ
Saint Louis, MO,
Dec. 30, 2013

Most of these young men are freshmen. That means that they are 18 years old. There are a lot of things going on in the psyche of an 18 year old male. There are lots of ups and downs physically as well as emotionally. In many cases, they are still boys in men's bodies. That is why stars such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar still believe in making freshmen ineligible in order to acclimate to academic life. Good luck on that one with all of the money involved for everyone concerned. I saw Julius Randle play for Kentucky against Louisville and he was absolutely at the top of his game. It would appear that you have to look at potential and then "throw the dice". That is the reason for psych evaluations. So far, the Jazz have been very fortunate with the caliber of character in their young players. In the NBA, winning doesn't always equate with character unfortunately. LeBron James with all of his immense talent thankfully has a great level of character. Until his emergence, the NBA was in danger of imploding after Michael Jordan. After all, it is only a game but a great influence on society.