he 2011 NBA draft had one of the weaker classes of prospects we've seen, particularly at the top. With a number of the best underclassmen deciding to stay in school another year, the draft lacked the usual quantity of top-tier talent.
The flip side: The 2012 draft is looking awesome.
With so many returning college players eligible for the 2012 NBA draft, plus a stellar freshman group streaming in, our 2012 Top 100 list will be very strong -- in fact, one NBA scout says it's the strongest draft class since the famous LeBron-Melo-Bosh-Wade class of 2003.
At the very top is Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis, the No. 1 prospect according to numerous NBA scouts and executives. Davis is a lanky big man who just went through a major growth spurt. He runs the floor, rebounds, blocks shots and plays above the rim. Though he needs to get stronger, he's a big-time talent.
Opinion about the top choice isn't unanimous, however. Several scouts and executives have Harrison Barnes projected as the top pick. The North Carolina swingman got off to a slow start in Chapel Hill but came on very strong toward the end of his freshman season. With his high basketball IQ, versatility and silky smooth athleticism, and with the Tar Heels poised to be the best team in the country, Barnes will get plenty of attention.
In 2012 we're projecting nine freshmen as potential lottery picks: Davis, Kentucky's Michael Gilchrist, Baylor's Quincy Miller, Florida's Bradley Beal, North Carolina's James McAdoo, Duke's Austin Rivers, Kentucky's Marquis Teague, Texas' Myck Kabongo and Memphis' Adonis Thomas. It's unlikely they all squeeze into the first 14 picks (if they decide to leave school), but the talent is there.