Luol Deng, SF, Duke
6-8, 220 (College Freshman)
The skinny: Deng already has drawn comparisons to Grant Hill for his versatility, athleticism and basketball IQ. A native of the Sudan, Deng has a 7-foot wing span and is an off-the-charts athlete. He's an above average passer, shot blocker and rebounder for his size. While scouts wish he had a better perimeter shot, especially from 3-point range, he does just about everything else well. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is already touting him as one of the best players in the country and plans to start him right away. If he has a Carmelo Anthony-like season and ends it with an NCAA Championship, expect the Deng-Anthony comparisons to put him in contention to be the No. 1 pick.
Dwight Howard, PF, S.W. Atlanta Christian
(Georgia) 6-10, 230, 19.3 ppg, 15.3 rpg (High School Senior)
The skinny: Right now the consensus is Howard would be the No. 1 player in the draft. The good news is scouts think Howard is one of the most well-rounded big men to come up in the last couple of years. The bad news is that he reminds many scouts of Kwame Brown. Howard has athleticism, a soft shooting touch, strong ball-handling skills and the ability to play multiple positions on the floor. However, he lacks the toughness and strength to compete in the NBA right away. Teams say he's a safer bet than Kwame because of his work ethic and his competitiveness on the floor, but others wonder just how long it will take for him to develop. If the consensus is three or more years, he'll start slipping.
Emeka Okafor, PF, UConn
6-9, 240, 15.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 4.7 bpg (College Junior)
The skinny: Okafor is the best big man in college hoops. He's a tenacious rebounder, shot blocker and defender and has drawn comparisons from some scouts to Alonzo Mourning. His defense is still ahead of his offensive game, but last season he really made progress on his back-to-the-basket moves. Scouts love his intelligence and his work ethic. He's a coach's dream. The only real question teams have are about his size. If he were a few inches taller, he'd be the consensus No. 1 pick. But at 6-9, he'll have to make the transition to power forward in the pros. Okafor has two years of college eligibility left, but most scouts believe that he will declare for the draft this year.
Kosta Perovic, PF/C, Partizan (Serbia)
7-2, 240, (19 years old)
The skinny: Perovic is a long, lean shot blocker with good shooting range. Currently he's playing behind former Nets first-round pick Nenad Krstic. However, Perovic got an early season break when Krstic went down with an injury, and scouts claim he's excellent. He's still very thin to play in the league right now, but he's the right height and is very skilled.
Pavel Podkolzine, C, Metis Varese (Italy)
7-5, 300, (19 years old)
The skinny: Podkolzine took the NBA by storm last spring when he put on a jaw-dropping workout in Chicago while GMs were attending the NBA pre-draft camp. A pituitary condition discovered by NBA doctors convinced Pavel to pull out of the draft and take care of the problem before making himself available. Podkolzine's agent, Justin Zanick, told Insider the problem has been treated with medication and Pavel's hormone levels are back to normal. Podkolzine has good agility and a soft shooting touch for someone his size. He's still very, very raw, but another season playing in Varese should make him a better prospect than he was last season.
Predrag Samardzski, C, Partizan (Serbia)
7-1, 260, (17 years old)
The skinny: Samardzski is the dark horse to grab the No. 1 pick. Currently, he's playing for Partizan's junior team and hasn't been scouted heavily by NBA GMs. However, the few who have caught a glimpse agree that he's the most talented prospect in Europe. The native of Macedonia does it all. He has polished moves in the paint and can step out and hit the 3. He's also got a wide frame, which will help his development in the pros. He may be another year or two away, but now that he's hired Darko Milicic's agent, Marc Cornstein, don't be surprised if he decides to come out this year. He's got the potential to be a superstar.
Tiago Splitter, PF, Tau Vitoria (Spain)
7-0, 240 (18-years-old)
The skinny: The native of Brazil had his coming out party against the Team USA in the Olympic Qualifying tournament. Splitter had just six points and three rebounds, but he didn't look out of place guarding the likes of Tim Duncan and Elton Brand. Splitter would go on to have several great games in the tournament, all in front of a large contingent of NBA scouts and GMs. Like Darko Milicic, Splitter is very physical on both ends of the floor. He plays with an intensity that has scouts drooling. He's got a pretty solid body and does a better job than average with his back to the basket. He doesn't have the perimeter skills of a Nowitzki, but he can shoot the ball and put it on the floor.
Chiriaev-For those of you who missed the report in July, Chiriaev is playing high school ball in Ontario, Canada, and several international scouts who saw him play this summer claim he's the closest thing to Dirk Nowitzki since Dirk himself.
Chiriaev is a legit 7-footer with handles like a point guard. He's a top-notch athlete with great quickness for his size. He's one of those players who many scouts feel could be a four- or five-position player in the pros.
"He's for real," one NBA scout told Insider a few weeks ago. "Everyone was praying for weeks that the cat wouldn't get out of the bag, but it has."
While scouts claim it's still too early to project where he could go in the draft, one scout says he's a lock for the lottery.
"The only real question with him is the competition he plays against," the scout said. "Canadian high school basketball isn't a hotbed for talent. But once he gets into private workouts and teams see what he can do for his size, I'd be shocked if he wasn't a top-five pick. He'll be a project, but his upside it tremendous."