Evaluating each player's decision to turn pro (cont.)
Evan Turner, Ohio State: Projected as a likely top-10 pick in last year's draft, Turner nevertheless managed to up his draft stock even more this season, to the point that he'll likely draw some looks at No. 1 overall. He's probably given everything that can be expected and then some to Ohio State fans.
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor: Turning 23 in a couple of weeks and with four years of college under his belt already, no one can fault the decision of this potential top-10 pick.
John Wall, Kentucky: The favorite to be drafted first overall, Wall handled his lone season of college basketball with great class and now enters the NBA a more polished player than he was a year ago.
Elliot Williams, Memphis: While he may not be ready to play heavy minutes in the NBA right away, and may not even be a surefire first-round pick at this point, Williams' early-entry decision is far more complicated than most, as he has a sick mother that he feels obligated to take care of. He's surely a good enough prospect to start drawing an NBA paycheck immediately, and probably would have seen his role reduced significantly next season had he elected to stay at Memphis.
Jahmar Young, New Mexico State: There wasn't much choice involved here, as Young did not appear to be welcome back at New Mexico State following a late-night altercation with a police officer last month. Twenty-three years old and far from the NBA radar, Young will need to get his act together if he's to carve out a career in Europe, something his skill-set indicates is more than possible.
Could've Gone Either Way
Luke Babbitt, Nevada: Babbitt is garnering interest from NBA teams picking throughout the second half of the first round, but he may have been able to establish himself as one of the best players in college basketball next season. Playing for a team that just lost starting point guard Armon Johnson to the NBA's early-entry list and playing in an off-the-radar conference such as the WAC, it's tough to criticize Babbitt too much if he feels like he's ready to get his pro career started.
Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky: Despite garnering some early hype as a potential lottery pick, Bledsoe's draft stock has cooled off a bit, to the point that he had to approach this deadline with serious caution. At the end of the day, Bledsoe decided to leave, especially with the top-rated point guard in high school basketball, Brandon Knight, headed to Lexington. Considering his tough background, it's difficult to criticize his decision.
Avery Bradley, Texas: Projected by some services as the No. 1 overall recruit in high school basketball, Bradley had a ho-hum freshman season on a team marred by inconsistency and reported chemistry problems. Undersized for a shooting guard and unlikely to see minutes at the point next season, Bradley elected to take the money and run, even if that might mean being drafted a lot lower than he might hope.
Derrick Caracter, UTEP: On the radar for years now since going toe-to-toe with Greg Oden in a game at Sonny Vaccaro's ABCD camp, Caracter's career can be described as more of a soap opera than anything at this point. He flashed sparks of potential despite looking largely out of shape in his lone season at UTEP (after transferring from Louisville). He will surely make good money wherever he ends up, be it the NBA, Europe or the Far East.
Jordan Crawford, Xavier: Crawford looked and played like he was ready to declare for the draft in November, and he was able to deliver the goods in March with a fantastic NCAA tournament performance. Seeing three different coaches in his three seasons in college thus far and with legitimate NBA buzz behind him at this point, it's difficult to criticize Crawford's decision to go pro.
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia: Coming off a fairly disappointing season individually in which he did not improve as much offensively as some expected, Ebanks' stock sits firmly on the first-round bubble at this point. With some reported friction going on behind the scenes at West Virginia, Ebanks apparently preferred to take his chances and declare for the draft regardless.
Charles Garcia, Seattle: A JUCO transfer who was denied entry at Washington, Garcia started off the season red hot, but cooled off dramatically as the year wore on. An extremely unique prospect as a skilled and athletic 6-10 power forward, question marks about Garcia's background have put his draft stock in flux. Whether playing another season at Seattle University would have helped matters is a highly debatable point that no one really has an answer for.
Paul George, Fresno State: One of the biggest enigmas in this class, George epitomizes the uncertainly of the NBA draft. A supreme talent who struggled to help his team win games in a mid-major conference, George is a raw player with huge potential who will likely intrigue NBA teams enough to warrant being selected in a solid spot in the first round, possibly very high.
Manny Harris, Michigan: Harris' decision is a difficult one to judge, as it largely depends on what his expectations were when he made it. He's no lock to be drafted at this point, but will clearly get every chance he needs to improve his stock and make an NBA team, either now or down the road. Only 20 years old and still very underdeveloped physically, there was a case to be made that another year in college could have helped, considering the lack of buzz around him. How different things would be at Michigan next year in John Beilein's system, though, is up for debate.
Armon Johnson, Nevada: The Nevada combo guard didn't wait very long to make his decision, plunging head first into the draft early on by hiring an agent. Although exceptionally gifted from a physical standpoint with his long arms and explosive athleticism, Johnson is a bit stuck between positions and fairly limited as a shooter and decision maker. He's likely banking on impressing enough in private workouts to earn a spot in the first round, and even if not, should be an attractive prospect early in the second.
Elijah Millsap, UAB: The brother of Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap, Elijah turns 23 this summer and is on track to graduate after his fourth year of college basketball. His draft stock is still somewhat up in the air, though, as he only really emerged on the radar screen this year. A fifth year in college may or may not have helped his stock, depending on who you talk to, but Millsap obviously already has his mind made up. With one of his brothers being a certified NBA agent and another being an NBA player, he was in position to receive all the information he needed to make an accurate decision.
A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt: Ogilvy put himself firmly on the NBA's radar screen with an excellent performance at the U-19 World Championship in Serbia back in 2007, but his college career ended up being somewhat of a disappointment after a promising freshman year. His minutes were down this season as there was apparently some friction between him and his coaching staff, while NBA scouts did not see as much improvement as they may have hoped. Ogilvy is a borderline NBA draft pick at this point who will have a significant market overseas, both in his native country of Australia and in Europe, where his skill-set may be more appreciated.
Terrico White, Mississippi: White's college career was short but fairly unconventional, going from unheralded prospect to being deemed a potential future star, while ultimately emerging as a marked disappointment this season. The reality is that he was probably somewhere in the middle of that wide spectrum all along, but in his mind he had almost no choice but to declare for the draft, seeing as how the perceived hype around him was appearing to fizzle. He probably could have used another year in college to work on his game, but he was in an unattractive situation at Ole Miss playing alongside a shot happy combo guard on a team that completely fell apart over the past few months.
Hassan Whiteside, Marshall: Drawing a significant amount of buzz from NBA scouts over the course of the season, Whiteside decided to strike while the iron was hot. He may have shot himself in the foot along the way, though, drawing a reputation for being lazy and incredibly immature, things that have clearly affected his stock. Whiteside probably could have used another year to mature physically and mentally before being thrown to the wolves of the NBA, but seemed to make up his mind already midway through the season. His career could go in many different directions from this point, even if there is no questioning how incredibly talented he is.
Willie Warren, Oklahoma: The rise and fall of Warren's draft stock -- from likely lottery pick to potential second rounder -- will be discussed ad nauseam in coming years. It serves as a cautionary tale for knowing when to cash in, as well as how not to act after deciding not to, even if we're only a couple of chapters into his story. With his future up in the air due to the damage that has been done to his draft stock, there was a legitimate case for Warren to come back and try to make up some of the ground he lost. At the end of the day, though, no one will describe his final decision as being much of a surprise.
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