NBA Scout Tells Fizz He’s Down on K-Jo, We Project Every Orange in the Pros

The Fizz dissects every scholarship player on the Orange and their pro prospects.

The success of this Syracuse team will inevitably add to many players’ NBA draft stock. Fans are already projecting Fab Melo to leave for the pros if he has a big March. How will the current members of the Orange fare at the next level? It’s a question worth pondering after a high-ranking front office executive for an NBA Western Conference team indicated to The Fizz Kris Joseph “isn’t worth following,” and will not be a quality NBA player.

That inspired The Fizz to make our own projections. Here’s our prediction for each scholarship player minus the freshmen, who are still untested. Feel free to let us know if you agree or disagree below.

  • Kris Joseph: F – Senior, 6-7, 210 lbs

Joseph’s style of play would seem to prove he can’t be much more than a role player in the NBA. His offensive game lends itself to inconsistency because he’s not a great ball-handler. He’s capable of producing the occasional offensive explosion (see: Georgetown), but he can’t take over games with any regularity. That’s because he can’t get to the rim at will, which goes back to his ball-handling. There are times when he looks out of control trying to drive in the lane. He’s an athletic slasher who can get inside frequently, just not whenever he wants. That’s the distinction between him and a player like Dion Waiters, who we’ll get to later.

Joseph’s three-point shooting has drastically improved since he arrived at SU, but this is the NBA we’re talking about. The standards are pretty high. Joseph can only connect from long range in a stationary catch-and-shoot situation, but he’s not going to curl around screens and hit jumpers, or knock down a three off the dribble.

Granted, there are plenty of NBA players who can’t do those things, but K-Jo is also an average defensive player. He might have the makings of a nice role-playing small forward in the NBA, but role-playing forwards must bring something to the table defensively. At best, Joseph is an unknown on defense. He plays in a zone that is completely incomparable to anything he’ll have to play in the NBA.

Joseph is a tremendous college player because of his athleticism, above average rebounding, and his ability to drain open shots. He’ll need to prove himself in other areas in order to succeed in the NBA. But a deep SU run could certainly help his draft stock, and a contender might take a shot on him to compliment its depth.

Draft Prediction: Late 1st round

  • Scoop Jardine: G – Senior, 6-2, 190 lbs

Things are simple with Scoop. SU’s leader can look forward to guiding teams to victory somewhere in Europe, or perhaps the NBDL. He’s on the slower, less athletic side for a point guard, and possesses a “chuck-it-and-pray-it-finds-the-net” jump shot. He has great court vision, seeing passes that most others don’t, and will finish his career as one of the most prolific assist-getters in Syracuse history (he’s currently 6th all-time). He’s improved his decision-making over the years, and has good size for his position.

It’s mostly savvy that gets it done for Scoop, as opposed to athleticism, and that’s why the NBA won’t come calling.

Draft Prediction: Undrafted FA

  • Brandon Triche: G – Junior, 6-4, 205 lbs

Triche will be called on to lead the team next season as a senior, which would seem like a slam dunk. The hometown star has played significant minutes since his freshman season. But it still seems like there’s some sort of mental barrier that’s holding him back from really blossoming. He’s a terrific shooter with a solid handle. His strength and athleticism could potentially translate to elite finishing ability.

He has to prove he’ll be there when his team needs him the most. Is Triche a big game player? It’s tough to say right now. The good thing for BT is that even though a breakthrough might be the key to his college career, it might not matter as much to his professional aspirations. His talent alone may end up being enough to someday land him a spot on an NBA roster. He has the tools to be a quality role player.

Draft Prediction: (2013) 2nd round

  • James Southerland: F – Junior, 6-8, 210 lbs 

Mentally, Southerland just can’t hold it together for an entire season. He pours it on against the mid-majors and has occasional success against Big East foes, but too often he returns to the same old disappearing act. And it’s a shame – “Big Game James” would be a catchy nickname if he were more of a clutch player.

He’s got good length and defensive instincts to go along with that beautiful shooting stroke, but why would a front office expect him to produce against NBA talent if he can’t do it in college? It would also help if could rebound better. Without that, he really becomes a one-dimensional player. At best, he turns it on during his senior season and earns an invitation to an NBA training camp.

Draft Prediction: (2013) Undrafted FA

  • Dion Waiters: G – Sophomore, 6-4, 215 lbs

Maybe the highest NBA upside of any Orange player. He’s extremely talented, and once Dion masters his outside shot (which admittedly isn’t a given), he won’t have too many weaknesses. His ball-handling is superb, he can finish at the rim with the best of ‘em, his defense has improved by an infinite amount, and he has supreme confidence in himself. He could average 20+ points per game as a pro.

He’s headed to the NBA sooner rather than later. Waiters may decide to leave early this spring. Judging by his personality, it would seem unlikely he would return if the NBA wanted him.

Draft Prediction: Mid-1st Round or Late Lottery Pick

  • C.J. Fair: F – Sophomore, 6-8, 203 lbs

The same NBA executive that wasn’t buying Joseph at the next level was actually very high on Fair. And it’s not that hard to see why. Fair does all the little things well. He’s a solid defender, the team’s best rebounding wing, and a crafty scorer. He’s proven to be one of the most consistent players on the Orange over the course of his short career.

Fair must grow stronger and work on his outside shot in order to bolster his NBA resume, because right now he can’t throw his weight around inside nor spread the floor. Luckily, Fair has two more years to improve his game. It’s okay that he’s nowhere near becoming a finished product.

Draft Prediction: (2014) Late 1st Round

  • Fab Melo: C – Sophomore, 7-0, 244 lbs

Fab and Dion have the highest NBA upside. The popular theory being tossed around is that Melo’s academic issues are a strong sign he’ll bolt for the NBA following this season. Basketball-wise, he could definitely use one more year in school. His offensive game is developing but he’s only able to produce in spots on that side of the ball. His range is impressive though. Watching him knock down three deep jumpers in succession against UConn was a reminder of how far he’s come.

He has been phenomenal in other departments, including rebounding, shot-blocking, and taking charges. And as much as his conditioning improved from year one to year two, it can still get even better. If he sheds a few more pounds and refines his offensive game, then watch out. He’ll be a force at the next level.

Draft Prediction: (2013) Mid-1st Round

  • Baye Moussa KeitaC – Sophomore, 6-10, 213

A four-year player for Jim Boeheim that will likely wind up in Europe. He needs to get much stronger and right now can hardly even catch a basketball. However, he makes scrappy plays and his effort is admirable.

Draft Prediction: (2014) Undrafted FA

Just remember to check back in with The Fizz in three years, after two more Final Four trips and another National Championship for Boeheim. At that point we can debate how accurate our projections were, and revel in UConn’s banishment from D1 hoops. Feel free to send us your comments in 2015 from your flying car, or whatever becomes of our Twitter feed.

Posted: Andrew Kanell

13 Comments on this Post

  1. I think most of these predictions are a bit favorable. I’ve never thought of Joseph of more than a second round talent and always thought Fair projected as a better pro. Joseph doesn’t have a single identifiable NBA skill and needs the ball in his hands to flourish. Fair, meanwhile, is an above rebounder and defender for his position and only takes high percentage shots. I think we may have already seen Fair’s ceiling, however, so he’s likely a second rounder.

    Triche, Jardine, Southerland have almost zero chance of being drafted, although Southerland at least has an NBA body and a definite NBA skill (3-point shooting). Melo and Waiters are both first rounders, but Melo will probably get taken higher given his position.

  2. Fab will go 1st round and waiters too. Triche will go second round and Jardine will be in europe. As for Joseph he is going to be a late 1st round pick. Fair has the most upside and with 2 more years he will be a 1st round pick…

  3. orangeskin

    Well I checked three draft sites and Dion is a mid to late first rounder in two of the mock drafts. I thought he’d return due to the inconsistency with his jumper, and how much Jonny has struggled in the NBA. Surprisingly, Fab was a first rounder on only one site,, which lost a little credibility with me because they have KrisJo listed as a mid first rounder too. I suspect Kris may go late in the first round at the absolute earliest. The review of him in this article is spot on in identifying his weaknesses. The other guys are harder to project because their development is incomplete. I really think Brandon should see a hypnotist or Dr. Bob Rotella because his problems are all between his ears. One guy not mentioned (probably due to lack of PT) who will be a first rounder in 2014 is MCW. He will probably be a lottery pick by then. I think it would be best if Dion stayed, but if SU cuts down the nets and he’s projected as a lottery pick, he’s gone. I think we all know that. Fab could use another year, but I’m pretty sure he turns 21 soon, and he may leave even though he could use another year too. I really think Nerlens Noel wouldn’t be so interested in SU if he thought for sure that Fab was returning. Every other school that thinks it has a shot with him (KY, UConn, UNC come to mind immediately) all will need centers next year. Davis is gone, that’s a given. UNC will lose Zeller and Henson, and UConn will lose Drummond and Oriakhi. However, I think UConn has no shot at Nerlens as no one wants to spend their one year in college knowing before the season starts that they have no chance to play in the NCAAs. Interesting discussion, but as I’ve said before, if SU wins it all, then I’m good. The only problem with guys leaving early is the damage it would do to SU’s APR. I hope sincerely that Kris is going to graduate. APR is a big reason (actually the only reason) that I consider it good news that Mookie is coming back to SU next year, unless his post yesterday is false.

  4. AnaheimOrange

    Since this article is about the draft and not about the prospect of actually playing a minute in the NBA, I agree with most of the predictions. Except that I would not project KJo as a first rounder. As a person, I admire Joseph. As a college player, his game is above average. As an NBA prospect, realistically, he’s a second rounder. As far as making a team, I deem that as unlikley. Fizz totally nailed the aspects of his game – both the assets and the considerable liabilities. However, I disagree with most folks on KJo’s defensive abilities. He’s a senior playing in JB’s 2-3 zone and still gets beat on too many of his defensive assignments. Could playing man-to-man against NBA talent show us his ability to lock down an opposing player? Unknown. Though, I’d wager against that.

    Watching Triche is frustrating. He has a more muscular build than Derrick Rose, minus the hops, and should be able to dominate out there. The mental block thing, lack of confidence, or whatever it is that prevents him from being a monster is flabergasting. BT should watch the Rocky series of movies prior to every game for motivation.

    When Dion plays within control, he is nearly unstoppable. With more on-court maturity and a consistent deep ball in his resume, he will be a first round pick.

    Scoop is Scoop and the Fizz is spot on.

    Should Fab stay another year in school to develop? Absolutely. Though the NBA now drafts on potential, his stock would rise significantly with another year anchoring the center of the 2-3 zone. Academic issues maybe the only thing preventing that from happening.

  5. Yeah, I think this is interesting. I agree on K-Joe, love how he’s turned himself into a solid college guy – but I cant see him doing much at the next level. Im interested to see who has more NBA stock with a deep March run (crossing fingers) Dion or Fab? I could make a case for either midway thru the 1st.

  6. Football hurry up!!!!

  7. One, it depends on team need. Two, draft order! Fab will always get the knod, because defense wins championships! Size is invaluable in the NBA. A bigman who can anchor a D, as well as shoot or rebound, will always be more attractive than a scoring SG, every NBA has quality scorers, but not quality bigmen.
    I do believe however….Southerland could be the darkhorse on the list. He’s done a very admirable job this season! His development has been hendered alittle….RAK shouldnt start, as an example. James is good enough to start,or take CJs spot as 1st Forward off the bench, but when you have NBA range & some new kid who hasnt made a layup in D1 starts over you, its embarrassing………i think dealing w/ JBs coaching James deserves credit……nba future as bright as scoop, baye, triche, maybe kjo? James could do a WES next season. Triche aint the kid that played Jonny to a standstill in H.S……he could avg 15/5/5 easy? There’s our Lotterypick, I think he’ll be ok next season @PG

  8. Orangeskin – I’m pretty high on MCW as well. We just decided to stay away from projecting the freshmen in the NBA because they’re still such unknowns.

    As far as Nerlens goes, I think you nailed the major question. Will his decision to attend or not attend SU be connected to Fab?

    Many people think yes, but I’m not so sure. Noel may have the mindset that he’ll just go where he feels most comfortable and that he’s talented enough to get significant playing time regardless of where he goes. It would be pretty cool though if he chose Syracuse and Fab stayed. That’s a sign of an absolute powerhouse program when you’re pulling in the nation’s top recruit, and he doesn’t even crack your starting lineup.

  9. although I agree with you krisjo is a late first round pick, I would have to disagree on a few things (like if he is a first round pick he must be pretty good) for his size he is a great ballhandler, I know some of the SU writers love to think otherwize but at 6’7″ it is very rare to has the skills he possesses. I also think the reasons some scouts(and by some I mean that cus some scouts love him) is do to factors krisjo couldnt control such as the injuries suffered last after his stock was booming. I honestly believe none of what that scout thinks will matter, if he has a good showing come march he is a lotto pick period. I think if joseph gets into the nba and gets solid training he could make an impact, i dont think he is a future allstar but I honestly dont see any player in all of college bball as one either. I also find it funny that people are blasting SU cus “they dont have first round talent” when 3 of them are pretty much projected first round anywhere you look. I also think fab will end up being a lotto pick, he is way better then the other 7 footer myers leonard and the only reason leonard is projected as a lotto is becuase he plays on a sucky team so he is the focus of the offense and has more oppritunities to put up big numbers. Also when evaluating talent you have to think about guys like triche and mcw and how much bigger their numbers will be when they will be counted on more. All on all I see 3 first round picks for SU (2 possible lottos) this year, 2-3 pros next year(maybe more have to wait and see on coleman and if noel joins)Hell the only players I dont think will play in the NBA from this team is southerland, scoop, and keita. but scoop defn caught the scouts attention over the summer so if he has a monster tourney you never know, kendell marshall is scoop to a T (both non athletic n great passers) and he is a first round pick (if scoop played his mins would probably show similair results

  10. on more thing kris can get to the rim at will, i think he worries about charges some times but if you really watch him play he should be driving and gettin to the line a lot more, but that has nothing to do with his potential or ability, and playing with this team he shouldnt be doing that too much unless he is needed to. thats what people dont get all these players are playing with in the teams system

  11. love your comment about where Uconn will be over the next few years.

  12. Mark Gilliam

    Coach Boeheim has done a tredmendous job with a talented laden team. Being a diehard SU fan…this team reminds you of the SU Teams of the players if old. Derrick Coleman, Billy Owens, Roosevelt Bouie,Dale Shackleford, Eddie Moss, Pearl Washington, Erich Santifer,John Wallace, Jimmy Lee, Fast Eddie Moss, Rudy Hackett,Louie Orr, Red Autry & Bruin. So for Coach Boeheim this is not new stuff..his guys will do well on the next level and it’s great to see SU back!

    Can’t wait to to see the Cuse in the Championship Game in Hotlanta this year!

    Go SU!

    Mark Gilliam
    Lawrenceville, GA

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