Carolina quartet will try to beat 2005 Tar Heels NBA draft class

acarter@newsobserver.comJune 26, 2012 

  • Four more For the third time since 2005, North Carolina is expected to have four players selected in the same NBA draft. Here’s a quick recap on the previous quartets: 2005 Pick;Player;Drafted by 2.;Marvin Williams;Atlanta Comment: Key rotation player averaging 11.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG in career. 5.;Raymond Felton;Charlotte Comment: Now with fourth NBA team (Portland), averaging 13.4 PPG, 6.7 assists in career. 13.;Sean May;Charlotte Comment: Injuries derailed career. Hasn’t played in NBA since 2010. 14.;Rashad McCants;Minnesota Comment: Averaged 10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG in six-year NBA career. 2009 13. Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana Comment: Key rotation player averaging 9.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG after 3 seasons. 18. Ty Lawson, Denver Comment: Flourishing as starter, averaged 16.4 PPG, 6.6 assists (10th in NBA) last season. 28. Wayne Ellington, Minnesota Comment: Rotation player averaging 6.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG after 3 seasons. 46. Danny Green, Cleveland Comment: Averaged 9.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG in breakout season with San Antonio after Cleveland cut him in 2010.

— For the second time in school history, North Carolina will have four players selected in the first round of the NBA draft on Thursday night. That much is a certainty. The only questions, of course, are when Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller will be chosen, and by whom.

In 2005, the Tar Heels’ foursome of Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants were selected among the first 14 picks. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that UNC’s current foursome equals that feat – or beats it.

Barnes, Henson, Marshall and Zeller – and not necessarily in that order – are projected as probable lottery picks. Barnes, who arrived at UNC amid considerable expectation, has been projected as high as the Charlotte Bobcats’ selection with the No. 2 overall pick. Henson, Marshall and Zeller, meanwhile, have all been among the top 10 in some experts’ mock drafts.

To gain a better understanding of how NBA player personnel executives has evaluated each player approaching the draft, The News & Observer recently spoke with a longtime NBA scout. What follows is the scout’s evaluation of foursome that could become a part of draft history Thursday night:

Harrison Barnes

Height/Weight: 6-8/215

Position: Small forward

2011-12 stats: 17.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 apg, .440 FG, .723 FT•  Scout’s evaluation: “Barnes has good size for the position he’s going to play. He shoots the ball [well] – he’s been inconsistent – but I think most people think that he’ll become more consistent as he continues to develop. He’s a good athlete. Right now he struggles with his ball-handling and you know, that’s the one area, probably the most significant area, that people will expect him to improve on. I can also say that … defensively, that’s going to [have to] be an improvement. Any guy that’s going in the NBA, the defense is always something that they have to adjust to. The step up from college to pros is much, much, much more significant than going from high school. And you’re playing against guys that are every bit as good or better than you. That’s always a given. Nobody’s ever defensively ready.”

•  Scout’s concern: “I think improving his ability to utilize the dribble. That’s been a wrap on him. People talk about it. I don’t think it’s a secret. And it really affected him when [Kendall] Marshall went out [with a wrist injury in the NCAA tournament]. It affected him because he wasn’t able to get open as easily and get shots as easily.”

•  Likely draft range: 2 to 5.

John Henson

Height/Weight: 6-11/220

Position: Forward

2011-12 stats: 13.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, .500 FG, .511 FT•  Scout’s evaluation: “Henson, his strengths are his left [hand] and his reach, his ability to block shots, affect the game around the basket. I think offensively, I think he’s got a chance to be a little better than a lot of people who have seen him expect. He’s pretty good with his little left-handed hook shot. He should be able to develop a right-handed one very similar. His face-up shot has gotten better. Now free-throw shooting is kind of [a weakness], it’s interesting that his free-throw shooting really hasn’t come up as well as you would think. But that’s an area he’s got to improve on. And then the biggest thing for him is probably just physical development with his body. He’s never going to be 260 pounds, but whatever he weighs, you want it to be solid muscle and everything. I go back so far that [Rocky Mount’s] Buck Williams, who played at Maryland years and years ago, you know Buck Williams was an all-pro player, and he played at about 225 pounds as a power forward. And was one of the strongest guys in the league. People who played against him will tell you, he was just like hitting a wall when you hit him because he was just so strong. So it’s not so much how you weigh, but how you can build up to the muscle and strength.”

•  Scout’s concern: “I think Henson’s [challenge is] just physical development. When you weigh 215 or 16 pounds or whatever he is, and you’re long, anyway, and you’re so long and lean and you don’t have a good base because of that, you’re going to get knocked around a little bit.”

•  Likely draft range: 7-12

Kendall Marshall

Height/Weight: 6-4/195

Position: Point guard

2011-12 stats: 8.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 9.8 apg, .467 FG, .696 FT•  Scout’s evaluation: “The great thing about Marshall, I think, is that Kendall Marshall knows who he is. He realizes what he does. He’s a team-first guy, understands his skills, [is] very, very, very unselfish. I’m sure he probably gets the most enjoyment out of passing to get a basket as he does making a shot. I think he’s going to be an effective shooter when he can get his feet set. Offensively, he has some trouble now of when he catches it, trying to score off the dribble, you know, with the pull-up shot and stuff like that. But there are things that he can develop, going to the basket with little flip shots and tear-drops, they call them, and things like that that make him a little more attractive. The defensive thing is probably going to be more trouble for him, for he and [Tyler] Zeller probably than the other two.”

•  Scout’s concern: “It’s when people get after him, and force him to play off the dribble and try to take away some of his passing lanes and his vision, and with the 24-second [shot] clock, that goes fast. So sometimes guys have to develop a way to get shots off under pressure. And I think right now that’s an area where he’d have to work on.”

•  Likely draft range: 8-15

Tyler Zeller

Height/Weight: 7-0/250

Position: Power forward/center

2011-12 stats: 16.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .553 FG, .808 FT•  Scout’s evaluation: “Zeller, the strength of his game is offense. Good touch, he is a good free-throw shooter, and [has a] good little jump-hook. I think everybody in the NBA thinks he’ll be able to step out and shoot the ball well up to 15 to 18 feet. He obviously runs the court very well, and in addition to running well, he’s very willing to run. And that’s the [key] – sometimes you get guys that can run but they don’t want to. I think his problem is going to be in the NBA, the strength and quickness of NBA post players. During his college career, he didn’t face a lot of guys that could just overpower him just because they were quicker. And now he’s going to be seeing that on a much more regular basis. So that’s going to be an adjustment.”

•  Scout’s concern: “Well I think the strength thing, even though he weighs a lot more, I think the combination that he’s going to be facing stronger, quicker big people on a regular basis will be something that he’ll have to adjust to. And a lot of this stuff, with physical development, it comes as they get older.”

•  Likely draft range: 7-12

Carter: 919-829-8944

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