2011 NBA Mock Draft: Kentucky's Josh Harrellson

| by’s David Aldridge submitted his Top Ten centers list for the 2011 NBA Draft. Listed at No. 2 is Enes Kanter. Listed at No. 3 is Josh Harrellson. Wow.

Now, let’s not get to ahead of ourselves. A lot of this can be credited to a weak class of centers. Following Harrellson on the draft board are the likes of Keith Benson of Oakland and Greg Smith of Fresno State.

Still, I think that Harrellson will get a look. He has good touch. He can step out and knock down the 12-footer. He is incredible at the two-man game. And he is exceptional at putting himself in good position when playing off the basketball.

Here’s what Aldridge had to say about Harrellson. – Harrelson wasn’t much of a prospect last year, playing just 88 minutes for the Wildcats and never breaking into Calipari’s rotation. He could sprint for only 45 seconds before getting winded. But Harrelson underwent a transformation last summer under the eye of Kentucky assistant coach and former 76ers swingman Kenny Payne. Working out up to three times a day, Harrelson lost weight and was able to go end to end for three minutes by the start of the season. And his increased workload from 1.2 rebounds a game to 8.8 per game this season was the largest jump in the country.

He won’t wow anyone with anything he does. But when you look at the box score at the end of the game, you see that he had an impact most nights. He uses his improved body to move opponents out of the way and gets his hands on a lot of loose balls for putbacks and second-shot opportunities.

Some scouts who saw Harrelson at Kentucky’s Pro Day earlier this month (Kanter did not work out then) were impressed with his perimeter skills and believe he could ultimately be a pick-and-pop player. But he’ll have to be drafted by the right team and be allowed to grow in a system that will take advantage of his skills. Like many players, he would benefit from going to a good team late in the first round — with the guaranteed money that first-rounders get as a bonus — and work on his game for a year or two instead of being drafted early in the second by a bad team where he’d be expected to contribute more immediately.

You know a lot of UK fans were upset when the NCAA ruled Enes Kanter permanently ineliligible. But, without Kanter’s ineligibility, does Harrellson get this opportunity? Probably not. And the fact that he took more than full advantage of the opporunity that was given to him, makes this great.

If given the same opportunity in the NBA, let’s hope that Harrellson can do the exact same.

Don’t forget the NBA Draft Lottery is tonight at 8:30. John Wall will represent the Wizards and be blanketed by a bunch of other former superstars, current stars and rich people.