More DX Conference Preseason Previews:
-The Top 20 NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12
-The Top 20 NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East
-The Top 15 NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12
-The Top 20 NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC
-The Top 10 NBA Draft Prospects in the AAC
-The Top 30 NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 10
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part One
(#1) Diamond Stone (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Two
(#2) Thomas Bryant (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Three
(#3) Caris LeVert (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Four
(#4) Troy Williams (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Five
(#5) Nigel Hayes (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Six
(#6) Jake Layman (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Seven
(#7) Melo Trimble (Scouting Video)
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Eight
(#8) Denzel Valentine
(#9) A.J. Hammons
(#10) Yogi Farrell
-Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Nine
(#11) Keita Bates-Diop
(#12) James Blackmon
(#13) Damonte Dodd
(#14) Malcolm Hill
(#15) Isaac Haas
#16 Vince Edwards, 6-8, Sophomore, SF/PF, Purdue
The son of longtime European basketball professional Bill Edwards (a member of USA Basketball's 1998 World Championship squad), Vince Edwards was considered a borderline Top-100 high school recruit when he committed to Purdue. Playing the entire season as an 18-year old, he exceeded expectations significantly as a freshman, starting almost every game and averaging 27 minutes per contest.
Edwards played primarily at power forward last season, but with McDonald's All-American Caleb Swanigan now in the fold, joining 7-footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, he will be asked to move down a position as a sophomore as long as Swanigan's eligibility concerns don't linger.
He has strong physical attributes for a small forward, measured at 6'8 in shoes this summer, with a 225 pound frame and 7'0 wingspan that allows him to play a little bigger than his height. He is not an exceptional athlete however, lacking standout quickness and explosiveness for his position.
Edwards started his freshman season very well, but was somewhat inconsistent once Big Ten play started, seeing his 2-point and 3-point percentages drop to 50% and 26.5% respectively against in-conference competition.
His shooting stroke will draw close scrutiny from talent evaluators, as its one of the biggest keys to him carving out a NBA career. Edwards made just under one 3-pointer per game last season, as he is fairly reliable when left open with his feet set.
Things might be a little different when he's not enjoying the same type of space a face-up power forward does, as he does not possess a very quick release, with long and deliberate stroke that is not particularly smooth or fluid, particularly at the top. While Edwards tends to dip the ball significantly upon the catch, and needs to work on getting his shot off much more quickly, his overall mechanics are not bad at all, as indicated by the decent results he saw as a freshman. His ability to space the floor from the perimeter will be a major key for both Purdue's upcoming season, as well as his own pro future in the long term.
Very fundamentally sound, Edwards has a strong feel for the game, and ranked statistically as the best passing non-guard in the Big Ten already as a freshman, with 4 assists per-40 minutes. He was a key cog in Purdue's half-court offense, the one charged with moving the ball along the perimeter, entering it into the post, and navigating the very tight spacing the team was forced to endure as one of the worst shooting teams in the Big Ten.
Edwards' ability to move off the ball intelligently, scrap for offensive rebounds, finish efficiently inside the arc, and find the open man bodes well for his role-player potential at the next level. He converted 58% of his 2-point attempts as a freshman, showing strong footwork, good body control, and very nice touch around the basket to help make up for his lack of standout explosiveness.
That's important considering Edwards is not and does not project to be a high-volume shot-creator, as he does not possess great ball-handling skills or an overwhelming first step. He showed some ability to attack defenses off straight-line drives last season, primarily off closeouts, but will need to develop this part of his game a little more as he moves to the perimeter full-time.
Thrown straight into the fire as an 18-year old, playing 27 minutes per game against many of the top teams in college basketball, Edwards was overmatched at times as a freshman in the Big Ten. His lack of size at the power forward position could be taken advantage of, and he doesn't show great lateral quickness for a small forward, as he will get blown by off the dribble a little more frequently than you'd like. He forced very few turnovers with just .5 steals and .6 blocks per-40, and grabbed only 4.3 defensive rebounds per-40 as well, which is a bit of a red flag.
To Edwards' credit, he is smart, highly competitive and very fundamentally sound, which leaves room for optimism regarding how he might develop in this area. That, combined with his size, long wingspan and strong frame does give him a nice framework to build on as he gets older and gains experience. The Big Ten is a very unforgiving place for an 18-year old, so it's fair to say that he has time to figure it out, something he'll need to do considering he is far from an elite offensive talent.
This will be an interesting season for Purdue, as they are likely to be one of the few teams in college basketball who will play with two real tradition back to the basket threats at the same time with their three big men (Hammons, Haas, Swanigan) options. The Boilermakers will need floor spacing around their old-school pivots, and Edwards will need to be able to provide that if they are to be successful while he's on the floor. He had a very successful freshman season, but will now need to take the next step in his development and start to make the full-time transition out to the small forward position.
#17 Rasheed Sulaimon, 6-4, Senior, Shooting Guard, Maryland
Rasheed Sulaimon arrived at Duke as a top-20 recruit in the class of 2012 and played so well as a freshman that it seemed inevitable that he would eventually make the NBA. Three years, an alleged sexual assault (to details of which remain murky), and one transfer to Maryland later, Sulaimon's NBA prospects are now uncertain.
At 6'4 and nearly 200 pounds, Sulaimon is slightly undersized to play off the ball at the NBA level and lacks the ball handling skills and court creativity necessary to play point guard. He has a decent 6'7 wingspan which enables him to get into opponents' passing lanes and force turnovers. Sulaimon averaged 2.0 steals per-40 minutes as a junior and had established himself as Duke's lockdown perimeter defender before his eventual dismissal from the university in late January. He's a good not great athlete and displayed advanced agility with his cuts on the offensive end and lateral movements on the defensive end.
Sulaimon took the ACC by storm as a freshman, averaging 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per-40 minutes. As his tenure at Duke went on though, his production plateaued. After starting 33 games as a freshman, Sulaimon was demoted to sixth man at the midway point in his sophomore season after Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood shined in the starting lineup. He reprised his sixth man role in a tumultuous junior year in which he averaged 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per-40 minutes in 20 games before the dismissal.
Though he's had ample time to work on his game and frame, Sulaimon's scoring and rebounding rates stagnated (albeit marginally, to 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per-40, respectively) and his off the court turmoil has negated whatever improvements he made as a defender in his three years on Tobacco Road.
Sulaimon's best offensive attribute is as a jump shooter. He made 24-for-66 (36.4%) total jump shots as a junior and showed a consistency through his tenure at Duke to hit with deep range. Out of the catch-and-shoot, Sulaimon converted on 39.1% of his shots as a junior and was very accurate when left open. In his three seasons at Duke, Sulaimon made 37-of-84 of his unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities (44%). Sulaimon's quick release and strong lift on his shots results in a consistently smooth arc.
Sulaimon's strong shooting forces opponents to play him tightly, but his strong first step and agility enable him to get to the rim frequently. His preferred offensive move is to drive right out of the pick-and-roll and use the backboard to bank in a fading layup on the right side. He's not particularly effective finishing in traffic, hitting on less than half of his shots around the basket last season per Synergy. Another red flag with Sulaimon's game was that he took a major step back in drawing fouls over his junior season. After attempting 5.7 free throws per-40 as a sophomore, Sulaimon took just 3.4 per-40 as a junior and made just 66.7% of his free throws -- a curious drop from the 80.2% he made as a freshman, possibly related to the off-court turmoil which eventually saw him suspended indefinitely.
Defensively, Sulaimon has the potential to be an elite defender at the next level. He has terrific lateral quickness and quick hands, both of which give opponents fits and make them think twice about trying to drive. He's a fearless defender with a strong awareness of when picks are coming, which enables him to get around screens in time to recover on his man. He's always been a bit of a gambler in the passing lane, which hurt Duke's defense at times early in his college career. Last season, he turned those gambles into turnovers at a higher rate.
Overall, Sulaimon's off the court allegations (which he, and his family have repeatedly denied) may be viewed as cause for concern on what would otherwise be an impressive on-court sample size. With his combination of perimeter shooting and strong on-ball defense, he has the potential to reinvent himself as a 3-and-D specialist if he resides himself to spotting up in the corners, but he has some passing prowess to possibly do more than that. Now playing in a new system alongside talented prospects such as Diamond Stone, Melo Trimble, and Jake Layman, Sulaimon's best opportunity to contribute offensively will come as an off-ball sharpshooter. His defense, passing and experience will be invaluable as this team hopes to make a run in March, and if he can continue to rebuild his off-court reputation, which was damaged considerably over the past year, he could easily put himself back on the map as an NBA prospect.
#18 Caleb Swanigan, 6'8, Freshman, PF/C, Purdue
#19 Jalen Coleman-Lands, 6'4, Freshman, Shooting Guard, Illinoiss
#20 Deyonta Davis, 6'9, Freshman, Power Forward, Michigan State
Without the benefit of extensive high school footage, we prefer to wait and see how these freshmen perform before adding to their DraftExpress profiles.