Thomas Robinson's battle with Ricardo Ratliffe and the Missouri Tigers headlines today's scouting...
We kicked this off last weekend and we go with round two today as the HQ looks at some of the top games, and the prospects participating in them, that Raptors fans may want to take a look at. We won't get to them all, but each week we'll try to focus in on few key matches and this week we start with...
1:45 PM - Oklahoma @ Baylor
Baylor has one real thoroughbred of a player in Perry Jones III. This guy is a LaMarcus Aldridge/Lamar Odom type of forward who can do it all. He has a good set of everything in that he can block shots, can defend, can score, and for a 6-11 player, he handles the ball like someone about a foot shorter.
The trouble is that even though he does many things well, he doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well, and tends to disappear at times. Of late, some draft-niks are wondering if he's even a legit top five prospect as he just hasn't dominated the way someone with his skill-set should. When you watch him play you can see that there is more waiting to come out but the big question on everyone's mind is "how do you get it to come out?"
If the Raptors get a top five pick, can they really afford to burn in on someone who could easily be a future Anthony Randolph; an athletic marvel who simply can't put it all together in the NBA?
On the flipside, there's no question that his talent is alluring and that he could be a great addition to the Raptors as an anti Bargs type frontcourt player; a facilitator who would be a match-up nightmare at various spots on the court. Did I mention that he's uber athletic too?
NOTE: Also to watch for is Pierre Jackson, lightning quick PG who was a Junior College All American, and Quincy Miller, potentially a lanky wing slasher, who many think may have a better NBA future than Perry Jones.
SIDE NOTE: For Oklahoma, keep an eye out on leading scorer Scott Pledger and Romero Osby. They look like capable perimeter players but Osby may be a year or two away. Pledger does hit the trey at a healthy clip (2.6 per game at .429).
4:00 PM - Missouri @ Kansas
This is the game of the day in my books. Number 3 ranked Mizzou is coming off a loss to the underrated Kansas State Wildcats while the number 5 ranked Jayhawks are coming off a win over Texas A&M, and both teams are still jockeying for a spot in the Big 12 final rankings.
This game should also be a contrast in strengths with Mizzou's guard play and perimeter shooting up against Kansas' powerful interior. For Raptors' fans, they'll want to focus on these two strengths as that's where the bulk of the top prospects lie.
For Kansas it obviously starts with 6-10 power forward Thomas Robinson. He's averaging a double-double on the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds to go with two assists and a block a match. He's one of the leading candidates for player of the year, and can not only score on the inside, but has hit 36 per cent of his long-range shots as well this season.
The question for Raptors' fans will be his potential position at in the NBA as while his game is more suited to that of a 4 at the college level, he's a bit undersized for that spot at the next level, but his elite athleticism has drawn many Derrick Williams comparisons in terms of his ability to play a bit of both in the L. I'm looking to see how he does today against the Tigers' Ricardo Ratcliffe, in what should be a dynamite battle. Ratcliffe is another name getting some buzz via the draft, thanks to his uber-efficient low-post game, and top 10 PER in the NCAA (29.58).
For Mizzou, it's all about the trio of Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Michael Dixon. The trio is averaging about 15 points per game combined, and are terrors from the field, shooting nearly 40 per cent form downtown. The 6-3 Denmon is getting the most draft buzz due to his elite and efficient scoring ability and it's not hard to see him coming off the pine for a club in the NBA, able to fill it up. Denmon will have his hands full with Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor, having a great season himself, so will have to lean on English and Dixon to help propel his club to a win.
NOTE: Also watch for Kansas' 7-0 Junior Jeff Withey, who has been a beast of late, and who Mizzou is going ot have a very tough time matching up against.
Other key matches today for prospect watching:
-Virginia Tech at Duke - 12:00 PM
-Vanderbilt at Kentucky - 12:00 PM
-North Carolina at Virginia - 4:00 PM
-Syracuse at UCONN - 9:00 PM