It doesn't take a basketball expert to figure out that St. Vincent/St. Mary's superstar LeBron James will be the first player taken in the June NBA draft. The more intriguing question is who will join LeBron from the high school ranks in risking a college career for big bucks?
RivalsHoops.com has spoken to several college coaches and pro scouts. Each of them has given an opinion on what they think of possible high school defections. Here are a few players to watch for in the next month. They are likely to make decision on whether they attend college or try the NBA draft:
Charlie Villanueva: Villanueva has great size for someone with his skills. Charlie can dominate a game offensively because his big enough to score inside and skilled enough to drop in the jumper from the perimeter. He remains committed to Illinois. "If I go to college, it's Illinois," Villanueva has repeated on many occasions. "But I have to see how high I might go in the draft."
Villanueva has indicated if he is a lottery pick, he's likely to bypass playing for head coach Bill Self. But Villanueva hasn't gathered all the information he needs and he's likely to sit down with some people in the business such as Sonny Vaccaro, Joe Mantegna (high school coach), his parents, and AAU coach Gary Charles.
James Lang: James had a great summer and elevated himself on most recruiting lists for the 2003 class. He has a wide frame. NBA scouts love his physical skills. However, some question his lift. Lang is not an incredible athlete (like Tyson Chandler). He is a bump and grind type of player who overpowers players. It's much easier to overpower high school kids as opposed to the big horses he would go up against in the NBA. Scouts would prefer to draft big, athletic centers. There is less risk of a player not working out when you have a great athlete that size.
Lang has yet to make a college decision. There are all sorts of question marks regarding where he might go to school if he did not jump to the NBA. Lang reminds one of Sani Ibrahim, who went into Oak Hill Academy last year with the sole purpose of preparing himself for the NBA. Ibrahim played on the JUCO ranks this season. It might be wise for Lang to show he can overpower college players.
Kendrick Perkins: RivalsHoops.com has always been impressed with Perkins too. He is big, strong and has that inside mentality that is so rare on the high school level. NBA scouts love the same aspects of Perkins' game as they do with Lang. But with those positives comes one big question mark -- is he athletic enough to handle the tough warriors in the NBA?
NBA scouts are trying to figure out whether Perkins has enough lift to be able to make an impact. So when viewing Perkins and Lang, NBA scouts are faced with the same questions.
NBA Scouts On Taking High School Players:
Many college coaches in major conferences have relayed to us that NBA scouts often overlook college players for the high school kids for one big reason -- less risk. But risk to who? The player? The team? The scout?
Well, the scout is most at risk in some cases. Most scouts believe that teams, management, and fans will be more patient with high school players who they haven't seen much of as opposed to college players who they watch every week on television. In other words, scouts believe the high school player will be given more time to be an impact player than the college player.
The patience factor is very big when scouting high school players, according to several coaches RivalsHoops.com spoke to over the past month. Many of these college coaches have been trying to convince scouts to select players who have performed with much skill on the college level as opposed to the high school kids. So there is also some personal interest by coaches when discussing this issue.
RivalsHoops.com will continue to update you each week on this issue and who might jump from the high school level to the NBA.