We debuted our first 2012 Top 100 of the year the day after the 2011 NBA draft. Now we're ready for our first big update of our Top 100. Of course, that begs the question, "How can college and international players improve their stock during the offseason?"
These days, there isn't any offseason. College players serve as camp counselors at events like LeBron's Nike Skills Academy and the adidas Nations camp. At the end of the day, the camp counselors play full-court scrimmages against each other and sometimes against NBA players.
In years past, NBA scouts were at all of these events watching every move. Thanks to new NBA lockout rules, NBA teams aren't allowed to have scouts in the gym at practices or at the various camps. However, they have plenty of other spies who can give them the lowdown. And so do I.
We also had a number of prospects playing for their national teams in international competitions around the globe this year.
Here's a look at a handful of guys who have helped their stock this summer along with our updated Top 100 list.
Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky
Top 100 Rank: 1
Davis was one of only two incoming freshmen to show up at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Given his meteoric rise from solid college prospect to the top of our 2012 Top 100 in less than a year, his presence at the camp drew a lot of attention. Davis did not disappoint. Although I could not get people to claim he was the best player in the gym, virtually all of the sources I spoke with claimed he was the best prospect they saw this summer.
Davis is still growing into his body and his game. But the skill level and energy he brings to the floor every night -- all in an athletic, 6-foot-10 frame -- make scouts drool. It's rare to find that combination of size, skill level and motor. If he can dominate at Kentucky as a freshman, it's going to be tough to knock him off the top spot on our draft board.
Andre Drummond, PF, UConn
Top 100 Rank: 3
We profiled Drummond last week in our draft blog, so I won't go into too much detail here. But those who saw him play at the adidas Nations camp this summer walked away feeling as if he was the player with the best chance of knocking Anthony Davis off the top spot. He lacks Davis' motor or polish ... but he has an NBA body and has more raw athletic ability.
Mitch McGary, PF/C, prep school
Top 100 Rank: 21
No player in high school basketball had a bigger year than McGary. The 6-11 Indiana big man tore up the summer circuits and wowed people at the LeBron James Skills Academy. McGary is an athletic big man with a NBA body, elite athleticism and a terrific motor. He won't blow you away in workouts because of a general lack of skill. But put him in a game and the lights all go on.
Although we're grouping him in with the freshmen, McGary is planning on attending prep school instead of college this season -- but he will be technically eligible for the 2012 NBA draft if he declares. McGary will turn 20 in 2012 (NBA rules require players to be at least 19 years old in their draft year), and his high school class graduated in 2011 (NBA rules require players to be one year removed from high school).
Will he declare? No one knows the answer, but he's ranked as one of the two or three best players in his class. He has NBA size, athleticism and strength. He's raw offensively, but, given his motor and toughness, he should be a late lottery to mid-first-round pick if he declares.
Steven Adams, PF, New Zealand
Top 100 Rank:
McGary isn't the only prep school player who could skip college and jump directly to the NBA. Adams wowed my sources at the adidas Nations camp this summer. The 6-10 physical big man led the camp in rebounding and physically destroyed the competition he played against. His NBA body, strength, motor and willingness to attack the glass convinced virtually everyone who saw him that he's the real deal.
Adams plays high school ball in New Zealand and plans to transfer to the U.S. to play ball at Notre Dame Prep this season. He has committed to play at Pittsburgh for the 2012-13 season. Given his age and the fact that he's an international player, he's technically eligible for the 2012 NBA draft. However, to this point, he has given no indication that he'll declare for the draft. If he did, he likely would be a very coveted prospect.
Harrison Barnes, F, So., North Carolina
Top 100 Rank: 2
Barnes played this summer at Chris Paul's Elite Guard Camp and really wowed people.
Barnes got off to a slow start as a freshman at North Carolina before coming on strong at the end of the season. Sources say he shot the lights out at CP3's camp and was much more aggressive taking the ball to the basket (a real weakness in his game last season).
Multiple sources said he was the best player they saw this summer.
"The Harrison Barnes I saw this summer, was the same guy I saw in high school and toward the end of the season at North Carolina," one source said. "If he plays with that confidence and attacks the way we saw him here, he's going to make teams think twice about passing on him as the No. 1 pick in the draft."
Jared Sullinger, PF, So., Ohio State
Top 100 Rank: 7
Sullinger is coming off an awesome freshman season when he was one of the best low-post players in the country. The big revelation this summer at the LeBron James Skills Academy was a slimmed-down physique. Sources said Sullinger moved better and was more explosive off the floor.
Scouts know he's a handful in the post and has a terrific basketball IQ. But they still need convincing that he'll be able to compete athletically in the league. Sullinger made a stronger case this summer. If he can keep the weight off all year and play with more pop, it should really help his draft stock.
Thomas Robinson, PF, Jr., Kansas
Top 100 Rank: 9
Robinson has been playing in the shadow of Marcus and Markieff Morris the past two seasons, but that's about to change. Both twins left for the NBA, meaning Robinson should be KU's primary weapon in the paint this season.
By all accounts, he's ready. We actually had Robinson ranked ahead of all other Kansas players in our Top 100 last season -- he was ranked as a lottery prospect all year. But after a strong summer in which he measured bigger than expected (6-10 with a 7-1 wingspan at LeBron's camp) and dominated at three camps (LeBron's, Amare's and adidas Nations) -- NBA scouts are drooling. Robinson was reportedly a beast inside the paint this summer and played with an aggression on the offensive end that surprised some.
"He's got much more to his offensive game than I thought he did," one source said. "I thought he showed he could shoot the ball a little bit and handle. In fact, if I had a complaint, it was that, at times, he seemed a little too content with showing off his perimeter game. Nevertheless, I think he's going to be dominant inside at KU."
Robinson has an NBA body, is a freaky athlete and plays hard. Questions about his size (most scouts had him pegged as closer to 6-7) and how he would adapt to life without the Morris twins have kept scouts from putting him firmly in the top 10. But after a summer like the one he just had -- it's where he belongs.
Jeremy Lamb, G/F, So., UConn
Top 100 Rank: 16
Lamb burst onto the scene during the Big East and NCAA tournaments in March. Although Kemba Walker deserved the lion's share of credit for UConn's tournament wins, Lamb showed the ability to take over when Walker was struggling.
With Walker off to the NBA, will Lamb really be able to take over as UConn's go-to guy? This summer, he was the leading scorer for Team USA in the under-19 championship. Although Team USA finished a disappointing fifth in the tournament, the tournament was mostly good news for Lamb.
Lamb has the length, athleticism and shooting stroke NBA teams look for in a wing. Without Walker to defer to, he was very aggressive this summer looking for his shot. Although he still needs to add strength, improve his shot selection and work on getting to the free throw line, scouts were generally impressed with how he played.
With Andre Drummond now on board, Alex Oriakhi anchoring the paint, Shabazz Napier running the point and another freshman, DeAndre Daniels, pairing with him on the wing -- UConn will be loaded with talent. If Lamb becomes the leader of a stacked Huskies team, he has a good shot of going very high in the draft.
Orlando Johnson, G, Sr., UC Santa Barbara
Top 100 Rank: 42
Johnson doesn't play for a big school, nor does he have a sexy game, but insiders raved about his performance at the LeBron Skills Academy.
Johnson has an NBA body and is a scorer at heart. He uses deceptive quickness to power his way to the basket and shows a smooth stroke from the perimeter. Scouts didn't take his NBA bid too seriously last season when he declared, but I think they'll be looking at him much more closely this season. NBA teams need guys who can put the ball in the basket, and I'm told that LeBron himself walked away intrigued with Johnson.