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With Jeffries, expect Indiana to be in Big Ten race

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

June 14
Now that Indiana's 6-foot-10 sharpshooter, Kirk Haston, has decided to stay in the NBA draft, let's look at how his departure will affect the Hoosiers.

Jared Jeffries
Jared Jeffries averaged 13.8 ppg and 6.9 rpg as a freshman last season for Indiana.
Coach Mike Davis and company will miss his jump-shooting ability. Jared Jeffries, the super soph, will have to turn it up a notch. I believe we will see his brilliant ability next season.

Jeffries showed flashes of greatness as a diaper dandy last year. I feel he will develop into one of America's blue-chip players in the season ahead. His talents will be exhibited against solid competition as the Hoosiers stay in the hunt in the Big Ten.

Right now, I would say Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State and Minnesota are the top teams in the league next season. Don't ever count out Tom Izzo and his scrappy bunch. The arrival of diaper dandy Kelvin Torbert will make them a major factor. Also expect big things from super soph Marcus Taylor in the backcourt. Taylor should respond in a prime-time role.

Haston had a solid performance at the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago, according to ESPN's own Andy Katz.

Haston improved his stock enough to become a legitimate first-round prospect. His stock is probably as high as it will get, so one could comprehend his decision for moving on. Haston would have been a fifth-year senior. He has the ability to shoot the basketball, and that helps hide other liabilities.

Haston's workaholic attitude will make him a fine addition to a pro team. When he comes off the bench, he can provide an offensive spark. And with Haston gone, most will tab Illinois as the Big Ten favorite next season.


Speaking of the Illini, Bill Self has one of the best backcourts in America in Frank Williams and Cory Bradford. You will get an argument from some about the top guard tandem.

I would lean toward the pair down in Durham, N.C. -- Duke possesses the explosive duo of Jason Williams and Chris Duhon. Williams will be everybody's choice as preseason Player of the Year.

Maryland has an outstanding pair in Juan Dixon and Steve Blake. Dixon can flat-out score while Blake is an outstanding passer and ball-handler.

If Teddy Dupay is back and cleared from a recent investigation, he would team up with Brett Nelson to give Florida one of the premier backcourts in the nation. Kentucky would rank high on the list if Keith Bogans pulls out of the NBA draft and teams with Tayshaun Prince in Lexington.

St. Joseph's has an exceptional duo in Marvin O'Connor and Jameer Nelson. Remember, Nelson was my 2000-01 Diaper Dandy of the Year. And O'Connor showed he could score -- just ask Stanford coach Mike Montgomery. O'Connor hit for 37 points in St. Joe's second-round NCAA Tournament loss to the Cardinal this year.

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