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Beal's Competition: 2010 NBA Draft Point Guard Projections

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As the deadline to declare draws closer, it seems that most marquee underclassmen have already stated their intentions for the 2010 NBA Draft. While some players still may enter or pull their names for consideration, it appears that there's a pretty solid outline of the upcoming draft class already in place. After four solid years at Vanderbilt, Jermaine Beal has put himself squarely into contention for one of the 60 picks come June, but a massive influx of underclassmen has weakened his draft stock.

However, Beal's consistent improvement and breakout senior season should have his name on a few scouts lists across the Association. His hard nosed play and decent size at point guard could help him get a look from teams that need an experienced floor general to come off the bench. Though Dolla's season ended on a low note, he'll have the rest of the spring and summer to play his way into contention through pre-draft workouts and the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT).

Beal's journey will be a strenuous challenge to move into the second round of the draft, and the competition will be strong. He'll be just one of several capable point or combo guards that teams will be looking at for help in the 2010-2011 season. Like we did with A.J. Ogilvy, let's gauge where Beal might end up based on the other players eligible in June.

Though Beal is a point guard, he'll likely be grouped with other combo guards due to the role he was asked to play as a Commodore. While Jermaine was solid in setting up plays for his teammates, Kevin Stallings relied on him to step up as a scorer, and it stands to reason that Beal's future lies as a shoot-first point guard rather than a pure distributor. For that reason, this comparison of players will include the draft's combo guards (PG/SG) rather than just pure point guards.

Tier One - In a class by himself.
Player School/Country
John Wall Kentucky

Let's face it, as far as guards go in the 2010 Draft, there's Wall, and then there's everyone else (Evan Turner is a swingman, not a ballhandling guard). After Wall, it's unlikely that any other primary guard will be taken in the Lottery.

Tier Two - First Round Locks
Player School/Country
Eric Bledsoe Kentucky
Avery Bradley Texas
Xavier Henry Kansas

The next tier of players consists of underclassmen who could range anywhere from 15-25 and are unlikely to slip to the second round. They are all potential-filled young guards with either explosive scoring abilities (Bradley, Henry) or first-rate distribution skills (Bledsoe). All three are excellent athletes who should be able to defend at the next level, but all have question marks due to their youth and relative lack of experience playing at a high level. Of the three, Bradley is the most likely to slip out of the first round.

 

Tier Three - Bubble First Rounders
Player School/Country
Jordan Crawford Xavier
Armon Johnson Nevada
Dominique Jones South Florida
Willie Warren Oklahoma
Terrico White Mississippi
Elliot Williams Memphis

These players could all work themselves into the late period of the first round or could slip to the second round depending on their pre-draft workouts. This group is a mix of players with rising and falling stocks, as players like Jordan Crawford and Dominique Jones are hitting the draft as their value is the highest, while guys like Willie Warren and Terrico White have slid based on their level of play and lack of team success in 2010. This group is a volatile mix of players with question marks but who are still looked at as potential rotation players and possibly beyond at the next level. Teams will no doubt take a flier on these players, as they've shown they have the talent to play at the next level, although maybe just not consistently.

Tier Four - Second Rounders
Player School/Country
Sherron Collins Kansas
Manny Harris Michigan
Sylvan Landesburg Virginia Tech
Jon Scheyer Duke
Alexey Schved Russia
Lance Stephenson Cincinnati
Greivis Vasquez Maryland

This group is mostly led by heady seniors who have earned national acclaim but aren't darlings in the eyes of scouts due to a lack of athleticism or other flaws. Despite the detractions, many of these players have been capable four year players that offer little additional growth into their pro careers. The exceptions are guys like Schved and Stephenson, who are x-factors that need more high level seasoning to properly estimate their career potential. These players have a chance of falling out of the draft, but are likely to have their rights snapped up even if they'll be playing overseas in 2010-2011.

Tier Five - Bubble Picks
Player School/Country
Jermaine Beal  Vanderbilt
Matt Bouldin Gonzaga
Tweety Carter Baylor
Denis Clemente Kansas State
Aubrey Coleman Houston
Keith Cothran Rhode Island
Devan Downey South Carolina
Jerome Dyson Connecticut
Osiris Eldridge Illinois State
Trevon Hughes Wisconsin
Derrick Jasper UNLV
Jeremy Lin Harvard
Elijah Millsap UAB
Jerome Randle California
Andy Rautins Syracuse
Scottie Reynolds Villanova
A.J. Slaughter Western Kentucky
Mikhail Torrance Alabama
Ben Uzoh  Tulsa
Deonta Vaughn Cincinnati
Nic Wise Arizona

The final tier of possible picks is the biggest. Of these 21 players, only two or three will likely hear their names called on draft night. This list is filled with players who were the top guards on their teams and saw modest success and notoriety. Guys like Aubrey Coleman, Denis Clemente, and Scottie Reynolds are examples of Dolla's prime competition - combo guards who were vital to their team's success as they marched to the NCAA Tournament. There are a lot of great names in this tier, but the truth is that the majority of these players will never sniff a NBA roster outside of Summer League games.

Unfortunately, Jermaine Beal lies right in the center of this list. He'll need a huge summer and monster showing at the PIT (EDIT: The PIT already happened, and the results...well...weren't encouraging) just to get to the top, and even then there he would be no lock  to be drafted, and have even less of a chance of being signed. Beal left Vanderbilt cresting towards an apex athleticially, and if he is still improving as a player he'll have the chance to show that off and impress scouts in the next couple months. If he's already hit that peak, then he could still have a place on a professional roster, but he'll have a longer road to get there.

Vandy fans will have two players to root for in the draft, though both will be facing a tough road to get there. A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal will both have to boost their stock dramatically in the course of nine weeks or wait patiently as teams sort through lists of higher-rated talent just for the possibility of hearing their names called. However, draft night won't be the be-all/end-all of their careers - just look at the path Sundiata Gaines took from playing at Georgia to getting playoff minutes with the Utah Jazz. Of course, if they wind up without guarantees, they might find themselves battling with Derrick Byars and Shan Foster for a roster spot somewhere.

*H/T to the talented but poorly named VolnVA for the update.