Senior Standing

Four-year players should figure prominently in first round

June 5, 2007

By Phil Kasiecki

Special to



Phil is the Sr. Editor of, and contributes regular content to E-mail here!

In recent years, seniors have become less fashionable when it comes to the NBA Draft. As many of the best NBA prospects have left school before exhausting their eligibility, there is a perception that those who stay in college for four years are there for a reason - they're simply not good enough to be worthy of a first round draft pick.


That perception doesn't exist in a blanket sense, as NBA scouts and team officials know that players develop on different schedules and some simply like the college life. They also know that players understand that one year or another might not be a good time to declare for the draft depending on how deep it may shape up to be. But that perception certainly contributes to the fact that seniors aren't the presence they used to be in the first round of the NBA Draft.


With that said, here is a look at the top seniors in this year's draft. Two project to be lottery selections and three more could hear their names called before the first round is up.


Al Thornton (6'7" SF, Florida State)

A terrific senior year has helped vault him into the lottery discussion.  Thornton can score in a variety of ways and rebounds well for his size, and few teams were able to contain him.


Acie Law IV (6'3" PG, Texas A&M)

Arguably the most clutch player in the college game this season, someone will likely snag him late in the lottery. They will get a player who knows how to win and can score and run a team.


Morris Almond (6'6" SG, Rice)    

He flew under the radar at Rice, but Almond has a chance to go in the first round as a big shooting guard. Almond was the nation's third-leading scorer and is arguably the best shooter in this draft.


Derrick Byars (6'7" SF, Vanderbilt)    

Transferring to Vanderbilt gave him new life, and he really emerged this season in the controlled system that Kevin Stallings ran. That bodes well, but on the down side, the physical tools are a big question mark since he's not a great athlete.


Aaron Gray (7'0" C, Pittsburgh)    

His stock is largely unchanged from a year ago, meaning he's a borderline first-round pick at best in a deeper draft. While he didn't regress this past season, he didn't make the large improvement over last year that he made as a junior and fell off the radar a bit. It doesn't help that this draft is deeper than last year's.


Jared Jordan (6'2" PG, Marist)    

There might not be a more true point guard in the draft than Jordan, whose feel for the game and ability to run a team could get him selected in the second round. His other offensive tools leave a little to be desired, but on the right team, he could be a nice pickup.


Trey Johnson (6'5" SG, Jackson State)    

Not a big name as a result of playing in the SWAC, Johnson can flat-out score, as he was second in the nation in that category as a senior. He's strong and can score in a variety of ways, and teams have seen this after he declared for the draft last year.


Herbert Hill (6'10" PF, Providence)    

A great story, Hill is very much on the radar after a terrific senior year. His strides first came late in his junior year after playing sparingly his first two seasons (and red-shirting his true freshman year), and he carried them into this past season as he was one of the best post players in the Big East. He has an array of scoring moves and can run the floor very well, and his rebounding also improved with similar consistency over his career.


Demetris Nichols (6'8" SF, Syracuse)    

He's big and can shoot the lights out, which is getting him some interest. But he never showed much more in college even though he's athletic enough to have at least some semblance of an in-between game, which means he would be relegated to role player status.


What About These Guys?


They had great college careers, but will the NBA come calling for these players?


Aaron Brooks (6'0" PG, Oregon)    

It's not the deepest draft for point guards, but working against the Pac-10's leading scorer is his size more than anything, since he weighs in at 160 pounds.


Jermareo Davidson (6'10" PF, Alabama)    

Two years ago, Davidson declared, then wrestled with a decision of whether or not to come out for good last year. He made it through a great deal of adversity as a senior and developed well his final two seasons, but he's kind of gotten lost in a deep draft.


Zabian Dowdell (6'3" PG, Virginia Tech)    

He's not the purest point guard, but a team might be intrigued enough by him to take a flyer in the second round. His defense will go a long way in helping him possibly stick with a team.


Jared Dudley (6'7" SF, Boston College)    

He's a classic tweener whose physical tools aren't great by a long shot. But that's what college teams said four years ago, and since then he has two first team all-conference selections and an ACC Player of the Year award to his credit. Can you really bet against him at this point?


Nick Fazekas (6'11" PF-C, Nevada)   

The school's all-time leading scorer is a likely second rounder, and someone will likely take a chance on him there. He can really score and has improved his inside play, which will help as he's always played more away from the basket.


Stephane Lasme (6'8" PF, Massachusetts)    

Known primarily for his great shot-blocking ability, Lasme was also an excellent rebounder in college. While he won't play in the middle at the next level, what makes him most intriguing is his offensive development. He was once a turnover machine but was a solid post scorer by the end of his days in Amherst.


Reyshawn Terry (6'8" SF, North Carolina)    

He was never the most noticeable player on his team, but you can't deny his success and his good size for the small forward spot. He won a national title as a sophomore and was the key veteran leader on a very young team as a junior, and he defends very well.


Alando Tucker (6'6" SG-SF, Wisconsin)    

After an excellent career at Wisconsin, Tucker's NBA future is uncertain because of one key question: what position does he play? He doesn't shoot it well enough to play the shooting guard spot, but he's small for both forward spots. Given his development in college, a team might take a chance on him in the second round.

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