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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Staying or Leaving? A Look at Who to Expect in 2013 Draft

We are heading into the final stretch of the conference tournaments and there are no guaranteed games anymore. There are 1st round prospects who won't be playing in the NCAA Tournament and while other postseason tournaments are options, their in-game resume for scouts to evaluate is just about complete. There will be plenty of tough decisions to be made in the next month and players won't have long to decide. With the NCAA's rules regarding testing the waters, there really isn't much testing the waters to be done. Once you are in, you are basically committed to the draft. Only Ray Taylor put his name in and subsequently pulled out before the NCAA's deadline last season - the first year of which the rule was in place.

This year players will face the same problem. The National Title game is on April the 8th. The NCAA recruiting period starts up on April 11th. The NCAA deadline for early entry withdrawal is currently unknown, but if its like last year, players will have to announce their intentions a day before National Signing Day. If not, they will be ruled ineligible to play college basketball. So at this point, there is little to no time for potential draft prospects to get in any workouts with teams or truly research their stock among decision makers. There is always the option to pull out at a later date to preserve eligibility and play in either the D-League or overseas since the NBA's official deadline isn't until June 17th, but that is uncharted territory that players aren't looking to end up in.

With all that said, now is the time to start speculating on who is staying and who will leaving. At this time of year, plenty of players will tell the media and their fans that they plan to be back next year (especially when posed the question after a heart-breaking loss in a tournament), only to go back on their word and enter the draft. For some guys, the decision will get easier if they go out on top by cutting down the nets April 8th.

Others are already running out of basketball left to be played and will have the next month to ponder whether they are ready to take the next step.

There are also a few guys who will be hitting the books hard and finishing their degree a year early - or in Cody Zeller's case two years early. Zeller reportedly is on pace to graduate this spring which is just as remarkable as his achievements on the basketball court. Joining him on stage should be Victor Oladipo, a junior who is also planning to graduate school early (Aaron Craft may be on pace to graduate early as well, but he has bigger plans in pursuing advanced degrees).

For those guys, the draft should be almost certain as they will have their degree already in hand. Gorgui Dieng is another guy who is planning to graduate early and was essentially treated by Louisville as a senior on senior night. Guys like CJ Wilcox, Kelly Olynyk, DeWayne Dedmon, Cory Jefferson, Amath M'Baye, Aaric Murray, and Mike Moser have all spent four years in college due redshirting and most should be on pace to graduate this year as well (although Im guessing there are two or three exceptions).

For other guys age may help push them towards the draft. Juniors Phil Pressey, Lorenzo Brown, Adreian Payne will be 23 by this time next year - a scary number for evaluators. Jordan Bachynski and Sean Kilpatrick will turn 24 in less than a year!

There are some old sophomores as well. Michael Carter-Williams, Ryan Harrow, Rakeem Christmas, and Eric Moreland can all legally drink.

Ryan Harrow will also be facing the problem of virtually being pushed out of Lexington with the Harrison Twins and a loaded recruiting class coming in. If he stays, he knows he will be returning to campus with a more limited role. Harrow finds himself in a unique situation in that regard, although his UK teammates will also have to weigh that factor when deciding what is best for their futures. Perhaps even Rasheed Sulaimon will have to entertain the thought with Andre Dawkins coming back and guys like Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, Matt Jones, and Semi Ojeleye all competing for minutes on the wing next year.

More often than not though, prospects instead face the problem of returning to a bad team. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stock has been quiet all year long, but it may not get better next year playing alongside his weak supporting cast. For some guys, there just isn't a big benefit in returning to school. Tony Mitchell seems done with everything North Texas. Myck Kabongo doesn't have much going for him down in Austin.

Jamaal Franklin strongly considered the draft last year, but should be all but gone this year. San Diego State will be graduating 3 key seniors and taking a step back next season. Ray McCallum Jr. will also see 3 key seniors leave his side at Detroit and even though they won't be in the NCAA Tournament, he may decide this year was his last shot at a tournament run.

Doug McDermott has faced sub-par competition just like McCallum while playing for his father and he may also decide it is time to step his game up. He's accomplished all the individual success possible at Creighton and will see Grant Gibbs and Gregory Echenique leave as well. The sense during Creighton's last home game was that it was McDermott's final performance.

Then there are guys in tougher spots. James McAdoo found out this year that he has a lot to improve on before he makes an impact in the NBA. His stock has slipped, but he still should get 1st round money. For him, he could declare for the draft knowing there is still some potential that he is living off of, instead of coming back for another year. At the same time, if he puts in the work this offseason to improve, he could return to UNC and reassert himself as a lottery pick. His teammate Reggie Bullock is a little different - his stock won't change much either way. Its basically a decision based on how much he is enjoying college.

After today's loss in the SEC tournament, BJ Young's NCAA Tournament hopes are done. Some projected him as a lottery pick before the season, but he now looks like a late first rounder. Returning next year could be enticing for Young as Arkansas could be a top 25 team with all their players back and two top 50 recruits joining them.

Its a pretty safe bet these guys will declare:

Gorgui Dieng
Tony Mitchell
Nerlens Noel
Ben McLemore
Shabazz Muhammad
Victor Oladipo
Cody Zeller
Otto Porter
Marcus Smart
Anthony Bennett
Alex Len
Michael Carter-Williams
Kelly Olynyk
Alex Poythress
Archie Goodwin
Trey Burke
Jamaal Franklin
CJ Wilcox
DeWayne Dedmon

A few of the more interesting decisions will come from North Carolina State. CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown seem just about ready to leave with seniors Scott Wood and Richard Howell. They tried their hand at contending this year - entering the year as the favorites to win the ACC - and failed. Another year of underachieving could damage their stock further. There is also TJ Warren, who could end up as a late first rounder if he does decide to put his name in. After this incident on twitter, it makes you wonder if he will come back to play another year under Gottfried.

There is also the Michigan guys. Trey Burke should be on his way out since he's a projected lottery pick and has done about as much as possible as a player in college. But Hardaway and Robinson III have tough choices to make. Robinson III's stock is a bit all over the place, but would likely find his way into the first round. The thing with Robinson is, if he came back, he could have a chance to take over the team. But everything about his past says he's not the kind of player who likes to be "the guy". So it looks best for him to leave before the pressure is put on for him (see McAdoo). Hardaway, on the other hand, would have no problem being the guy. But he may be better off leaving after a winning season before scouts pick apart his game even further.

More players:

Willie Cauley-Stein - Maybe the least likely of all Wildcats to declare. For one, he could beat out Dakari Johnson for a starting spot next year. Secondly, as of now, his stock is all over the place. He could go in the lottery, but could also slip into the second round. Kind of a Hassan Whiteside/DeAndre Jordan situation.

Isaiah Austin - Baylor is going to miss the tournament and Austin's has failed to cement himself as a lottery pick. There is obviously going to be a huge learning curve for him at the next level in terms of just getting used to the game physically, and he is a guy who could benefit from another year in school. I think he's a 50/50 guy at this point.

Russ Smith - His decision will be a lot easier if they win the title, but I see him as halfway in the draft already. Smith has already proven himself as a great college player and certainly thinks highly of himself. It seems Pitino is already bringing in Juco guards to prepare for both Siva and Smith leaving so I think this is a good bet.

Myck Kabongo - Kabongo doesn't have much to look forward to next year and I think he will follow his fellow Canadian Longhorns to the NBA. The NCAA screwed him this season and he won't want to go through that again. Cory Joseph, Avery Bradley, and Tristan Thompson left early (all Longhorns by way of Findlay Prep like Kabongo) and Myck will do the same.

Gary Harris/Branden Dawson/Adreian Payne - Harris is getting hyped by Chad Ford as a lottery pick so its certainly enticing, but I only think he leaves if they win it all. Same goes for Dawson and Payne. Michigan State should be very strong next year with them returning. Best team in the country possibly.

Deshaun Thomas - Thomas is what he is and his stock likely won't go up much with another year. Plus Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross are itching to get more playing time if he leaves. Still, I can see him coming back as the Buckeyes could also contend for the National Title with him there. I do think there is a better chance he declares than either of Michigan State's trio though.

Phil Pressey - He's probably gone. This season was a disappointing for him and he just doesn't have the same chemistry with this group as he did with Dixon/English/Denmon and his brother. He's old for his class and his stock is unlikely to improve due to his height.

Allen Crabbe - Probably a situation where he will look for a guarantee in the first round. If he gets it, Im sure he will declare. The NCAA Tournament will be big for his draft stock.

Patric Young - The tournament will also probably play a part in his decision. He had good chances to leave in the past and likely be a first round pick and didn't. I'm sure he is enjoying every minute of college in Gainesville and is in no hurry to leave. It may be his time though, and a National Title would certainly help his stock and push him closer to the draft.

Andre Roberson - Roberson's stock may actually be slightly lower than it was last year. His team is young and will be better next year and with him - they could possibly win the Pac-12 title. He's another 50/50 guy.

Ricky Ledo - Sat out this year and may never play in a college game. He is said to be considering leaving Providence early.

Deonte Burton - Burton also has talked publicly about the possibility of declaring for the NBA Draft.


  1. Nice write up! Somehow I am not so sold on Harris as a NBA Player after one year college.

    1. He doesn't have the typical physical attributes of a one and done player. In theory, if he was to declare, he will go in the first round, but I see him sticking around in college another year at least. Or thats what I hope - he's such a great player to watch at the college level and has become their best player. He could be a NPOY candidate in a year or two.

      Sulaimon isn't as good of a college player, but has the kind of potential that he could taken advantage of by leaving early.