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Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Bilas ranks four Tar Heels in top 18 of draft

By Robbi Pickeral

ESPN Insider Jay Bilas on Monday ranked his 30 best players in the NBA draft, Insider and four North Carolina players made his top 18.

Here's how Bilas rated them:
5. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina Tar Heels: In high school, I thought Barnes was super athletic and always made the right play. In college, I questioned his athleticism and his basketball IQ. Well, I am doubling down on Barnes because I think he will be a better pro than a college player. He is an outstanding jump shooter, really good at midrange and incredibly athletic with potential at both ends. Barnes is a thinker who is process-oriented, but with more time to work on his game, I like him better as a pro. And he was a heck of a college player, notwithstanding the super high expectations.

12. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina: Zeller has a skill that sets him apart from any big man in this draft, and the vast majority of big men in the NBA: He can really run the floor. Zeller's ability to change ends puts tremendous pressure on opposing big men. Zeller is a good post defender who breaks contact to get deflections and rebounds at a really high rate. He needs to better hold position down low, but he is strong and has a good frame. He has a nice touch, hits a trail jumper and knocks down his free throws.

14. John Henson, North Carolina: Henson was projected as a small forward coming out of high school, but it seems that power forward is his best spot. He has freaky length and can block shots and rebound, and his offensive game has improved to the point of being able to hit a face-up shot to 17 feet or so. He is unorthodox and does not carry a lot of bulk, but his length, shot-blocking ability and rebounding make him a very good prospect.

18. Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: Marshall is a left-hander with extraordinary vision, passing ability and leadership. He has good size but lacks foot speed and the ability to get by people off the dribble. Marshall is not a great shooter or scorer but is excellent in transition, and his teammates run because he will find them. He averaged almost 10 assists per game but did not score efficiently. He can hit a wide-open standstill jumper but is not a driver or penetrator. His defense is lacking, but he is able to use his size and is smart about playing off of quicker guards and using angles to cover up speed and quickness disadvantages. Marshall has decent straight-line speed but not quickness.

Bilas had also previously ranked Barnes as one of his top five players in this draft with star potential. Insider

Thoughts?

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.