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Draft gems hiding at the end of the first round?

James Michael McAdooThe NBA is heading in to a very exciting time.  First we're fast approaching the All-Star Break and then the trading deadline.  In fact, with the All-Star weekend and the trade deadline less than a week apart, we're likely to hear rumors flying around the entire week.  After that it's a sprint to the end of the regular season.

Similarly, it's an exciting time for NCAA hoops.  Conference play is about half way over, then it'll be conference tournament time, then it'll be time for March Madness.  From an NBA Draft perspective, several draft boards look very different then they did at the beginning of November.  All season long I've been tracking who could be available at the back end of the draft where, barring any sort of trade, the Spurs will be picking in June.  There's one guy who's gone from a top five pick to a mid to late first round prospect.  There's another guy who is having an incredible season but can't seem to get rise on any draft board.

James Michael McAdoo, F, UNC – McAdoo was touted as a top five pick coming in to this year.  McAdoo has stumbled going from back up to team leader this season, but I wouldn't say it's all been his fault.  He's probably asked to do too much on a UNC team that is suffering from losing four starters to the first round of last year's draft.  He doesn't have a point guard who was second in the nation in assist feeding him the ball.  Despite that, he's still UNC's leading scorer and rebounder.  He's got good range on his jump shot and can really defend the pick and roll.  However, he turns the ball over, a lot.  He's averaging close to three turnovers a game and two assists a game, so a negative assists to turnover ratio.  He's shooting just a shade under 60 percent from the free throw line. So there are things to work on.  Maybe he's not a lottery pick, but if he goes to a contender and has some time to mature, look out.  Spurs would have to do a little work to get him as he's probably going to get drafted somewhere in the 15-20 range.  DraftExpress has him at 17 while ESPN has him at 22.

Jeff Withey, C, Kansas – Withey is a senior having the best year of his career who does at least one thing at an elite level.  He used to be everything scouts used to look for in lottery picks.  The draft, for better or worse, has changed though and now Withey is going to be drafted somewhere in the 20's.  The Kansas center is averaging an astounding 4.2 blocks per game and has upped his scoring and rebounding numbers from last season.  Still, Withey's ceiling isn't much higher than it is now, which is why he'll be drafted in the back half of the first round.  That's good news for the Spurs though.  He's currently ranked 29th on DraftExpress' board and 25th on ESPN's.  Withey won't be the only elusive shot blocker in the Spurs range come June.

Gorgui Dieng, C, Lousiville – I've been following Dieng since last year's Big East Tournament.  This year he was sidelined early with an injury but has been back for about a month now and is leading the Big East in rebounding at 9.9 rpg and also averaging 2.5 block a game. He's almost all defense at this point, but he can catch and has touch around the basket, so you wouldn't be playing four-on-five on offense when he's on the court.

Andre Roberson, F, Colorado – Quick update on the hometown kid who I still think would make a great Spur.  Roberson is once again averaging a double-double on the season and is second in the nation in rebounding at 11.6 rpg, just barely trailing Sienna forward O.D. Anosike, who is averaging 11.7 rpg.  Roberson is also averaging two steals a game and his three point shooting is up to 42 percent.  Bad news is his scoring is down slightly and his turnovers are up.  Right now he's probably trying to do too much offensively on the perimeter right now.  In a system like the Spurs he'd be ask to work hard on defense, rebound and hit an open corner three and I think he can do all of those things.  Those offensive struggles have hurt Roberson's draft stock. He's 40 on DraftExpress' Big Board and 43 on ESPN's.

Next time we check in it'll be just about time for conference tournaments.  If there's a prospect you think would fit in the Spurs' system, please let me know below.

Photo: GoHeels.com

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