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NBA Draft Prep: Ranking Grant and Parker
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As most schools are in the heart of their conference schedule by now, this is a good chance to revisit how some of the top prospects are faring.

Jabari Parker, freshman forward, Duke
It’s hard for a game to live up to the hype, but Duke vs. Syracuse in the Carrier Dome did just that.

There aren’t too many things wrong with Jabari Parker’s game. But if you want to nit-pick, it would be uneven games -- fast starts followed by tepid second halves. In last Monday’s game, Parker scored 16 in the first half against Pittsburgh and only five in the second. He seems to tire in the second half. In Duke’s four losses prior to Syracuse, Parker averaged 11.3 points in the first half and 5.8 points in the second.

Because of this, I was looking forward to this game to see how Parker would handle that famous Syracuse 2-3 zone -- it can wreak havoc on a team trying to start the game at their pace and tempo, making you play their game.

However against Syracuse, Parker didn’t get off to his usual quick start. He opened the game shooting 2 for 6, tallied only four points and committed two turnovers in the first half. He ended up 6 for 16 from the field with 15 points in the overtime loss to the Orange.

Despite his fouling out with two minutes to go in regulation, this was a positive sign for me in regard to Parker’s second half fitness. He didn’t tire like he had in other games this season.

Parker is going to be compared to fellow freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins inevitably -- they play the same position and have similar body types. Wiggins has shown this season that he gets better after half time, scoring the majority of his points in the second half. If a team is choosing between these two, that could be a deciding factor.

But Parker’s game against Syracuse showed me that he’s improving in that area. I think Parker is a stronger shooter than Wiggins. He’s averaging over 18 points per game, and grabbing over eight rebounds. He’s a solid defender and can lock down his man when asked.

If I had the number two pick, I would take Parker over Wiggins. They are probably No. 2 and No. 2A, realistically. I still believe Joel Embiid (Center, Kansas) is the top-overall pick.

Jerami Grant, sophomore forward, Syracuse
Not to harp on one game, but it was the best overall out of the weekend, and some of the other prospects (Wiggins, Embiid, Smart) didn’t fare as well in their weekend games.

Jerami Grant is an interesting prospect. He stood out in the Duke game for all the right reasons. Shooting 7 for 11 from the field, Grant was also a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line. He finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Grant was also stellar on defense for the Orange against Duke. Nine of his 12 boards were on the defensive end.

Last year, he was one of the first players off the bench for the Orange, but that’s not the case this year. Grant is averaging 31.5 minutes a game this year for soon-to-be No. 1 Syracuse.

What sticks out most about Grant is his length. He’s 6-foot-8, 210 lbs, but his wingspan has been measured at 7’2”. That creates a very tough matchup problem for opponents. His length also makes his a great defender who can guard a few different positions. Even as a wing player, he’s posted 14 blocks so far this season.

His stats won’t blow you away (13.0 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game), but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about watching Syracuse over the years it's that you can’t rely on the stats the players put up in that offense.

Grant is a physical specimen. He’s athletic, a decent three-point shooter and has a solid mid-range jumper. Over the summer he made the World championship team, coached by Billy Donovan, but was unable to play because he contracted mono. And that’s why you may not have heard a lot about Grant. His illness kept him out of action this past summer and into the very early season. Also because of mono, Grant dropped around 15 pounds on his already lean frame. He’s added bulk back, but he still needs to put on some more muscle.

But Grant has bounced back from his summer sickness and has shone brightly under the lights and pressure of playing at Syracuse. I see him as a mid-lottery pick, going anywhere from picks 6-12.

For NBA teams looking at Grant to draft, they would receive a respectable shooter, a defender who can guard two to three different positions because of his size and his length, and they would get a player who’s shown that when you give him minutes, he’s done nothing but improve. I think Grant will be a solid NBA player.