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Alabama's Miller group of 1-and-done talented forwards in NBA draft


Brandon Miller rapidly became an elite NBA draft prospect in his lone season at Alabama.

He headlines The Associated Press' list of forwards and could go as high as second overall behind presumptive No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama. There are other one-and-done prospects such as Villanova's Cam Whitmore, Houston's Jarace Walker and Central Florida's Taylor Hendricks as potential top-10 picks.

Here's a look at the top forwards in the draft:


STRENGTHS: Miller, 20, went from McDonald's All-American to AP first-team All-American. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 38.4% from 3-point range and 85.9% from the foul line. He also showed the ability to play off the dribble or attack the rim, along with quality play on the defensive end behind the length to chase multiple positions. It adds up to a mix of shooting, athleticism and size suited for today's NBA game that demands versatility on the wing.

CONCERNS: He needs bulk on a 200-pound frame to handle bumps and physical play at both ends. He faded late after dealing with a groin injury, including averaging 9.3 points on 8-for-41 shooting (19.5%) and going 3 for 19 from 3-point range in three NCAA Tournament games as the Crimson Tide fell in the Sweet 16 despite being the top overall seed.

There's also his ties to a significant off-court issue: a murder case that led to former Tide player Darius Miles and another man being indicted on capital murder charges. A police investigator testified in February that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun that night. Miller hasn't been charged with wrongdoing and continued to play, though the ongoing case brought intense scrutiny through the second half of the season on Miller and the Alabama program.


STRENGTHS: The McDonald's All-American got a late start to the season due to thumb surgery, but became the Big East freshman of the year. Whitmore, who turns 19 in July, has an NBA-ready frame (roughly 6-6 without shoes, 235 pounds) and athleticism to attack off the dribble. He ranked tied for third at the NBA combine in max vertical leap (40.5 inches). And he shot 37.3% on 3s after becoming a starter for the final 20 games.

CONCERNS: He shot just 65.9% at the foul line as a starter and didn't consistently create opportunities, having nearly as many games with no attempts (six) as those with three or more (seven).


STRENGTHS: The McDonald's All-American joined Kelvin Sampson's Cougars program built on defense, rebounding and toughness — a formula typically better suited to older players. Yet the 6-7 forward fit right in as a 250-pound presence. He measured with a better than 7-2 wingspan at the NBA combine, ranked tied for third in standing vertical leap (34.5 inches) and tied for ninth in max vertical leap (38.0). Walker, 19, is strong enough to tussle with bigger opponents and nimble enough to switch onto wings.

CONCERNS: Walker's stroke is still developing. He shot 34.7% from 3-point range and just 66.3% from the foul line.


STRENGTHS: The four-star recruit was a surprise, averaging 15.1 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 47.8% from the field and 78.2% from the line. Notably, he shot 39.4% from behind the arc and had only four games out of 33 in which he failed to hit a 3. Measuring slightly taller than 6-8 without shoes at the combine, Hendricks has athleticism and length (better than a 7-foot wingspan) that could help him become a two-way power forward for today's floor-spaced game.

CONCERNS: The 19-year-old needs strength to a slender 213-pound frame. He also faced an AP Top 25 opponent twice all season, offering only a glimpse of how he handles top competition.


— GRADEY DICK: The Kansas one-and-done wing made 40.3% of 3-pointers as a potential lottery pick who can space the floor and potentially play as a guard. The 19-year-old measured at better than 6-6 without shoes at the NBA combine, though his minutes could depend on how he holds up defensively.

— BILAL COULIBALY: Wembanyama’s teammate in France offers his own intriguing skillset. Still just 18, the athletic 6-8 wing is a first-round prospect with disruptive-defender potential and the potential to be a quality 3-point shooter.

— G.G. JACKSON: The 18-year-old was set to be the nation's No. 1 recruit for this season at North Carolina. Instead, he reclassified to enroll early and played a sometimes-frustrating season at South Carolina. The first-round prospect has a 6-8 frame with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, athleticism and shot-creating potential.

— KRIS MURRAY: The twin brother to Sacramento Kings rookie Keegan Murray more than doubled his scoring at Iowa last season (20.2, up from 9.7). The wing — who measured nearly 6-8 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan at the combine — turns 23 in August, hit 35% of his 3s over the past two seasons and could go in the back half of the first round.


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap


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