David Aldridge of NBA.com has the Portland Trail Blazers selecting Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum in the 2013 NBA Draft.
"Cousin" LaMarcus Aldridge made it clear last year: He needs some help in the middle. The incumbent center, J.J. Hickson, was just too light in the cakes (h/t Fred Carter) to handle the center spot on a nightly basis. But GM Neil Olshey will have to work his free-agent magic to fill that spot; McCollum's too talented. The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year can play both guard spots, can score, and can pass, and he doesn't turn the ball over. His college career PER of 29.08 ranks him 17th all-time on the NCAA list, according to basketball-reference.com. A three-guard rotation of Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, Wes Matthews and McCollum could be lethal at times next season. Add Nicolas Batum at the three, Aldridge at the four, and whomever Olshey can get at the five (he chased Roy Hibbert last offseason), and Portland could be back in business very soon.
Career Highlights: Ranks first in Patriot League history and second in school history with 2,361 career points scored. Named Patriot League Player of the Year as a junior and freshman. Earned Honorable Mention All-American Honors from the Associated Press as a junior and freshman. Named First Team All-Patriot League as a junior, sophomore and freshman.
Senior (2012-13): Ranked first on team in scoring (23.9 ppg) while ranking second in rebounds (5.0 rpg) and assists (2.9 apg). Scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games played. Scored a season-high 36 points along with eight rebounds against Baylor. Scored 35 points against Fairfield. Scored 34 points against Bryant. Scored 30 points along with a season-high nine rebounds against Quinnipiac. Missed the bulk of the season after suffering a broken left foot on Jan. 5.
Strengths: Has solid size and length for a guard. Extremely skilled scorer inside and out. Gets to the rim at a good rate, but more dangerous from the perimeter. Good rebounder and defender for his position.
More from Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress.com...
Despite the improvement in his numbers likely being inflated by the limited sample of games we have to look at (12 total), the consistency of McCollum's mechanics, whether he's pulling up off the dribble, shooting off the catch, or using his step-back are more controlled and consistent than they were early in his career. He still takes some difficult, off balance shots, but his 63% true shooting percentage ranks him as the most efficient point guard prospect in our top-100 nonetheless, reflecting just how impressive he's been as a senior.
In addition to his improved shooting, McCollum continues to show the ability to get into the paint using changes of speed and direction to keep defenders guessing. Possessing a good first step, but lacking blow by quickness and elite leaping ability, McCollum isn't as prolific at the basket as he is from the perimeter, but he shows good body control and a willingness to draw contact. Finishing at a 56.8% clip at the rim and averaging 6.1 free throw attempts per-game, the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year can make plays around the rim given the opportunity and excels in fast paced games where he can push the ball and catch the defense scrambling.
A crafty shot creator with a high skill level and basketball IQ, McCollum shows good court vision, but is not a natural facilitator for the Mountain Hawks, nor is he asked to be one. The Ohio native does make very good decisions pushing the ball in the open floor, and has impressive ball-handling skills, leaving plenty of room for optimism that he could fill a role that calls for both scoring and distributing as a NBA point guard long-term.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com has the Blazers selecting McCollum in a recent mock draft. Ford also recently included McCollum on a list of three players piquing the Blazers' interest, along with Croatian forward Dario Saric and Caldwell-Pope.
Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett has the Blazers selecting McCollum in his mock draft.
Blazers point guard Damian Lillard included McCollum on a list of his three favorite players in this year's class, along with Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel and Kansas guard Ben McLemore.
McCollum was also included in a list of the three best fits for the Blazers by a national analyst.
Lillard has been used as a comparison for McCollum as both spent four years at small schools.
You can read ZiggyTheBeagle's statistical similarity breakdowns of McCollum here.
Check out the following DraftExpress.com videos of McCollum.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter