Its still another year away, but its never too early to take a look ahead at some of the top prospects in next years NBA Draft. While the upcoming college basketball season will inevitably yield more names projected to be called by league commissioner David Stern, here are 20 players considered to be top-tier draft prospects:
Isaiah Austin, 7-foot-1 freshman center, Baylor: More of a face-up big man than a traditional post-up player, Austins blend of extended shooting range, ballhandling skills and shot-blocking acumen make him an intriguing long-term prospect, though his slender frame will desperately need to add some bulk in order to compete with the big boys.
Trey Burke, 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard, Michigan: After a surprisingly stellar freshman season, Burke flirted with declaring for this years draft, which was low on standout point guards, but another steady campaign running the show and shooting the ball from the outside could guarantee him a spot in the first round.
Rudy Gobert, 7-foot-1 center, France: Compared to a tougher version of former draft bust and countryman Alexis Ajinca, the athletic big mans performance at the adidas Euro Camp put him firmly on the map as a potential lottery pick next year.
Archie Goodwin, 6-foot-5 freshman shooting guard, Kentucky: While Goodwin isnt even the most heralded incoming freshman for John Caliparis defending-champion Wildcats, his combination of size at the wing, scoring instincts and athleticism will give him a shot at making a big impact in Lexington.
Myck Kabongo, 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard, Texas: A mildly disappointing freshman season may have tempered expectations for the jet-quick Canadian, but an improved jumper and another year of experience should help his stock.
C.J. Leslie, 6-foot-9 junior power forward, North Carolina State: One of college basketballs best athletes, Leslie showed some fortitude in returning to school after the Wolfpacks surprise season, and as he continues to find his niche as an inside-outside force, he should reap the benefits.
James McAdoo, 6-foot-9 sophomore power forward, North Carolina: The nephew of NBA Hall of Famer and current Miami Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo, the fundamentally-sound power forward took a back seat on a veteran team in his debut college season, but is expected to be the squads focal point moving forward.
C.J. McCollum, 6-foot-3 senior shooting guard, Lehigh: Following a historic upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament, McCollum considered entering the draft and while hell certainly face increased attention, the combo guards clever scoring ability and overlooked all-around game already has plenty of fans among NBA scouts.
Tony Mitchell, 6-foot-8 sophomore power forward, North Texas: A monster athlete, Mitchell is still very raw, but despite playing at the mid-major level, his explosiveness is no secret among pro personnel types.
Mike Moser, 6-foot-8 junior small forward, UNLV: One of the more underrated players in the college game, the versatile Mosers profile should be raised by the Running Rebels influx of talent, which has many observers predicting theyll be one of the nations best teams.
Shabazz Muhammad, 6-foot-6 freshman shooting guard, UCLA: An explosive scoring wing with a tremendous motor, Muhammad is saddled with the label of being UCLAs savior, but regardless of whether he delivers in that aspect, he should be productive enough to maintain his lofty professional potential.
LeBryan Nash, 6-foot-7 sophomore small forward, Oklahoma State: A relative underachiever as a freshman, the powerful and skilled Nash, now with a year of college experience under his belt, is expected to be a breakout performer, and with his array of scoring tools, has the ability to live up to expectations.
Nerlens Noel, 6-foot-11 freshman center, Kentucky: Anthony Davis he isnt, at least offensively, but Noels prodigious shot-blocking ability alone has some believing he could be the top overall pick in 2013, particularly if the long athlete can add any semblance of offense to his repertoire.
Otto Porter, 6-foot-8 sophomore small forward, Georgetown: Porter isnt the flashy type, but his blue-collar, fundamentally-sound game, coupled with excellent athleticism, versatility on both ends and a high basketball I.Q., have won him plenty of admirers, particularly with the Hoyas recent track record of producing solid pros.
Dario Saric, 6-foot-10 small forward, Croatia: Although Saric needs to add strength, the perimeter-based big mans supposed point-forward ability and shooting range are attributes that will consistently intrigue NBA scouts, who are constantly in search of players with size that can stretch the defense.
Adonis Thomas, 6-foot-6 sophomore small forward, Memphis: Yet another ballyhooed prep prospect that endured an inconsistent freshman campaign, the powerfully athletic and defensive-oriented Thomas was smart to return to school and if he can shore up his offensive deficiencies, the decision will look even wiser.
Deshaun Thomas, 6-foot-7 junior small forward, Ohio State: Overshadowed by the departed Jared Sullinger, Thomas is one of the better pure scorers in college basketball and as the Buckeyes new first option, he should be able to showcase his full, versatile offensive game.
Jeff Withey, 7-foot-1 senior center, Kansas: A shot-blocking menace, Witheys strong NCAA Tournament propelled him into the realm of top draft prospect and with All-American Thomas Robinson now in the NBA, hell also have more of an opportunity to display his post-up scoring ability.
B.J. Young, 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard, Arkansas: Youngs freshman exploits mostly went under the radar on a young Razorbacks team that struggled all season, but the scoring point guards speed, fearlessness and finishing ability are all well-suited to the next level.
Cody Zeller, 6-foot-10 sophomore power forward, Indiana: Saving the best for last, with apologies to incoming freshman Muhammad and Noel, Zeller is the top returning college prospect, following a season in which he was a dominant low-post scorer, rebounding machine and made the Hoosiers relevant again.