Tuesday, May 14
Updated: Sunday, May 19, 4:46 PM ET
Top 30 prospects
By Andy Katz
Here are the top 30 players in the 2002 NBA draft based on talent alone, regardless of the draft order, which will be finalized Sunday with the lottery draw to determine the first 13 selections on June 26. (Rankings as of May 15).
1. Yao Ming, 7-foot-5, center, Shanghai Sharks
Yao Ming didn't wow the scouts in Chicago on May 1 but he left enough of an impression to secure one of the top two spots. He's still 7-5 and can be a defensive pest every time he's on the court if he keeps his hands in the air. Strength is a question, but he showed he has the frame to add even more weight to his estimated 283-pound body. Teams aren't expected to be discouraged from Yao's Chinese National Team responsibilities that could pull him away from training camp and part of the beginning of the season.
2. Jay Williams, 6-2, point guard, junior, Duke
Don't call him Jason anymore, but he shouldn't fret about being confused with Jayson Williams, the former Net, or Jason Williams the erratic Grizzly. This Jason, oops, we mean Jay, Williams has his own game. He isn't afraid to take, let alone make, big-time shots. He might be a questionable free-throw shooter, but he gets to the line often. He made plenty of NBA-length 3s during his junior season and shouldn't have a problem adjusting to the NBA game. Don't expect him to drop below No. 2 in the draft.
3. Caron Butler, 6-7, small forward, sophomore, Connecticut
Caron Butler's stock soared in the NCAA Tournament and continues to climb even without a workout. Butler can score from anywhere on the court, loves to work the offensive glass and his body has matured enough to where he can take the physical pounding in the NBA. His position in the draft could change with the arrival of Mike Dunleavy and Chris Wilcox in the lottery, but he won't be around longer than the top five because of his scoring skills.
4. Drew Gooden, 6-10, power forward, junior, Kansas
The biggest question around Drew Gooden is whether or not he's a power or small forward. Dunleavy could slide ahead of him if the team picking wants a small forward instead of a power player. Gooden has been more of a finesse player with the ability to score inside and out. He runs the floor as well as any big man in the draft and has made up for his lack of bulk by getting to the boards and finishing without a problem. He has the ball skills to be a tough matchup and scouts give him the favorable term of having tremendous upside.
5. Mike Dunleavy, 6-9, small forward, junior, Duke
Every lottery pick outside of Yao Ming and Jay Williams had to wonder about his position when Mike Dunleavy entered the draft. He can alter anyone from No. 3 to No. 8. He's got the ball skills, the shooting touch and the board work on the offensive glass to be an impact player once he adds bulk to his body. Dunleavy has the pedigree the scouts love and he will be protected because of his father's fame in the NBA. Teams won't mess with him and will let him know exactly where he'll go in the lottery before he makes a decision to stay in the draft.
6. Chris Wilcox, 6-10, power forward, sophomore, Maryland
Maryland expected his departure after Wilcox's stock rose during the NCAA Tournament. He can use his body without a problem to get inside position,. He can run the floor and finish, and has developed even more finishing touches over the past few months. Wilcox is still an unfinished product, but NBA teams covet players who have the potential. Wilcox fits the criteria for a team in need of a power player who can also get out and run on the break. He could go as high as No. 3 if the right team gets in the spot.
7. Curtis Borchardt, 7-foot, center, junior, Stanford
NBA teams love big men and Curtis Borchardt fits the criteria for a top eight pick. He's big, can block shots and score in the post. He could add weight and increase stamina, but he's ready to make the jump. Borchardt still hasn't signed with an agent and could consider returning to Stanford. But he might find that difficult to do considering his stock is holding firm in the top 10. He had a healthy season after battling foot injuries the previous two and scouts say the time to go is now.
8. Dajuan Wagner, 6-2, point guard, freshman, Memphis
The comparisons to Allen Iverson aren't fair, at least not yet. Wagner is bigger and maybe a better scorer, but not as good a shooter as Iverson. He still has to learn the nuances of the game, but scouts don't expect him to slip out of the top 10. He's as productive a player as there is in the draft and would be a catch for any team that gets him later in the top 10. Memphis won an NIT championship with him, but probably never believed they would get him back for a second year.
9. Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 6-11, small forward, Benetton Treviso (Italy)
The most amazing story in the draft could be Tskitishvili. He didn't play in the European Final Four, yet general managers and scouts went to Bologna to watch him work out. He's 19 and his upside has NBA personnel intrigued enough to take him in the top 10, a precursor to keeping him in the draft. The fear is that he could become another Pau Gasol and teams don't want to miss out on the chance to get him. He has the shooting touch, the ball skills and the future that NBA teams covet.
10. Qyntel Woods, 6-9, small forward, sophomore, Northeast Mississippi CC
Memphis signed him and was planning on featuring him as the inside-out player on the team next season. He's not going to be nearly as effective in the NBA. Scouts consider him one of the best athletes in the draft, a deft shooter and a prototype small forward. But he will undergo an extensive interview process to ensure he's worth the risk of taking in the top 10. The buzz on him has been up and down the past few months and the workouts leading up to the draft will be critical for him.
11. Jared Jeffries, 6-10, PF, So., Indiana
Jeffries is the most tenuous of the potential lottery players. Is he a small forward or a power forward? Can he take the physical pounding? Is he ready to contribute? Jeffries has the ball skills, the post moves and the range -- but he's got to get the shots off against tougher competition. Jeffries declared for the draft with the expectation that he would go in the lottery. He has to work out well to ensure that he's not disappointed.
12. Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, 6-10, PF, Vasco de Garna, Brazil
Nene is creating quite a buzz among NBA teams. He's considered a lottery pick because of his versatility and the dream that he could end up being one of those Dirk Nowitzki-type of NBA players who someone hopes they don't miss on in the draft. Nene has been working out in Cleveland and if his contract situation can be resolved (his agent Michael Coyne said it shouldn't be a problem) then he might be a can't miss talent.
13. Marcus Haislip, 6-10, PF, Jr., Tennessee
Haislip has a "love 'em or hate 'em" relationship with the NBA scouts. For those that are enamored with him, they see a shot-blocker and a strong, developing post player. But for those who still don't see it, then they question just how good he'll become offensively. Haislip has the upside to move up in the lottery. He could be one of those workout gems because of his size, strength and power-game ability.
14. Amare Stoudemire, 6-10, PF, HS, Cypress Creek (Fla.)
He's got the raw skills to be a tremendous talent in the league. But he's not a sure thing like a few of the other high school talents who have passed through recently. Stoudemire will take work and plenty of discipline. He has been through more high schools than some players go through teams in their NBA career. If a team is willing to spend the time with him, shadow him and really work with him, then he's got loads of potential.
15. Chris Marcus, 7-1, C, Sr., Western Kentucky
Marcus is a fourth-year senior who played three years because he was ineligible as a freshman. That's why he'll appear on the early-entry list. But he's not going back to school. He was once discussed as a potential No. 1 pick, but that seemed to fade as he failed to be a dominant player. But he's still got loads of talent and continues to develop more offensive tools around the basket. He's certainly big enough to cause havoc at the defensive end and his foot seems fine after missing half the 2001-02 season with a stress fracture.
16. Kareem Rush, 6-6, SG, Jr., Missouri
Rush declared with the intent of being a lottery pick, but those dreams could be dashed unless he moves up a few spots in the next month. It's possible. Rush has the potential to be a consistent perimeter threat, but he has to improve his ball skills and creating his shot off the dribble. Scouts want to see him knock down shot after shot in workouts and see his overall game unfold in front of them before making a final decision on how high he could go in the draft.
17. Melvin Ely, 6-10, PF, Sr., Fresno State
Ely benefited from coming back for his senior season, his fifth in college. Even though it was marred by an NCAA suspension, Ely still got better in the post. He has a consistent up-and-under move, and can hit the turnaround jumper. His rebounding improved, as did his timing on blocks throughout his senior season. He should work out well and has a chance to move into the late lottery if he shines over players like Marcus and Haislip.
18. Frank Williams, 6-3, Jr., PG, Illinois
Williams bypassed his fourth season of eligibility when he decided to declare for the draft a year ago, making it official when he declared this month. Williams could be this season's Jamaal Tinsley -- a point guard who should go higher in the draft, but drops simply because teams question how hard he wants to work. If that's the case then a team in the middle to late in the first round could get a steal. When Williams is on, he's as good as any point guard available and could be a contributor to a playoff-bound team next season.
19. Dan Dickau, 6-foot, PG, Sr., Gonzaga
Some scouts are in love with Dickau's 3-point shooting range, his moxie on the court and his passion for playing. Others are hung up on his size and lack of defensive quickness. But all you have to do is watch him for a six-minute stretch against Pepperdine in March when he scored 19 points. He was simply amazing and, like Frank Williams, will be a gem for a team that gets him further down in the first round.
20. Rod Grizzard, 6-8, SF, Jr., Alabama
Grizzard hurt his knee in May and that could hamper his workouts, but shouldn't drastically affect his draft status. He's still a first-round talent because of his athleticism and ability to slash to the basket with one move. He's not a good 3-point shooter, clunking to under 30 percent last season. But he has improved his rebounding skills and is considered a worthwhile pick later in the first round.
21. Jiri Welsch, 6-6, SG, BC Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia)
The Czech guard is climbing in the minds of the NBA scouts. He could continue to push the teens in the draft with workouts over the next month. He's considered a versatile guard who can play both positions. He's not considered a great shooter, but he's a scorer and finds a way to get to the basket. He would have been a second-round pick a year ago had he been in the draft, but he made a wise move holding off for a year to get into the first round.
22. Chris Jefferies, 6-7, Jr., SF, Fresno State
Jefferies could have been back for his senior season had he not been hurt. The knee injury, which ultimately required surgery, put a damper on his junior season (his fourth in college after starting out at Arkansas). It put enough of a scare in him to push him to enter the draft. Jefferies didn't return to the team while he was rehabbing, causing a rift with the former coaching staff. But that shouldn't hurt him with the NBA. He's a talent, a long-armed defender, excellent scorer who can jump out of the gym. He could be a gem late in the first or if he drops a steal in the second.
23. Bostjan Nachbar, 6-9, SF, Benetton Treviso (Italy)
The Slovenia forward is climbing the charts for NBA scouts because of his ability to score. He was another player who nearly stayed in the draft last season, but was pulled once it was clear he wasn't going to be a first-round pick. That has changed over the course of a year. He loves uptempo basketball and has the ballhandling skills to make it work. He's not Pau Gasol, but he's at least in his world.
24. Tayshaun Prince, 6-9, SF, Sr., Kentucky
Prince will get knocked for his thin frame throughout the draft but he can still score. He made the right decision to come back for his senior season to give him even more strength and muscle tone. He's not going to wow any scouts lifting weights, but he has a quick first step and he can get to the basket. He can defend, block shots and should crack the first round, somewhere near the bottom.
25. Freddie Jones, 6-4, SG, Sr., Oregon
Jones helped himself with one move in the NCAA Tournament. When he put the ball on the court and drove to hit a hanging, finger roll to beat Texas in the Sweet 16, it showed that he could do more than simply jam on the fast break. Jones is a talent, but needs to diversify his game more from the perimeter. Gerald Wallace went late in the first round a year ago because of his upside as an athlete and Jones can do the same in this year's draft.
26. Sam Clancy, 6-7, PF, Sr., USC
Clancy nearly stayed in the draft last season and would have been a middle to late first-round pick. He's in the same group after coming back and being the Pac-10 player of the year. Clancy didn't hurt himself and still has a chance to move up in the first round, although a knee injury during a workout this week could set him back this month. He's still an undersized, power player who can score in the post and that is a talent worth drafting.
27. Carlos Boozer, 6-9, PF, Jr., Duke
Boozer skipped out on his senior season, even though he's close to graduating at Duke. Boozer's game developed into near lock status close to the basket. He pushed his jumper out to the free-throw line at times and improved his drop-step moves as well as his drives to the basket. He's better than average free-throw shooter and a good worker on the offensive glass. He could easily move up in the first round through workouts.
28. Juan Dixon, 6-3, PG, Sr., Maryland
Dixon was simply sensational in leading Maryland to the national title. Few players have had as consistent, let alone as dominant a performance in six games as Dixon did this past NCAA Tournament. He looks like he's in the best shape of his life and is as good a defender as there is in this draft. The question will be whether or not he can play the point and he'll have to prove that in workouts to move up in the first round.
29. Dan Gadzuric, 6-11, PF, Sr., UCLA
Gadzuric is one of the harder players to figure in the draft. He could move up higher if he wows scouts in workouts, which he has the potential to do because of his size, agility and overall athleticism. Few players will run the court as well as Gadzuric in a game. But his erratic play over his career could hurt him from moving too high in the draft. If he has the passion to play then his upside (the scouts' favorite word) is unlimited.
30. Lee Benson, 6-9, Fr., Brown Mackey College (Kan.)
Benson's checkered past and imprisonment will certainly lead to an exhaustive interview process. But the he can play and scouts spent money visiting him throughout the season in Kansas. He has the power game down and has the raw offensive skills that are worth taking a gamble on either late in the first or high in the second round.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Katz covers the NBA draft for ESPN.com and ESPN.