Evaluating early-entry decisions (cont.)
Shelvin Mack, PG/SG, Junior, Butler*
A huge part of Butler's two straight runs to the national title game, Shelvin Mack has quite a few fans among NBA teams, but he may have difficulty being guaranteed a spot in the first round by May 8th.
Darius Morris, PG, Sophomore, Michigan*
One of the most improved players in college basketball this season, Morris ranks as the most productive playmaker in this draft class, despite being only a sophomore. A borderline first-rounder at this early stage, he will have a tough decision to make on May 8th.
Josh Selby, SG, Freshman, Kansas
Selby came into college as a consensus top-five recruit, but a series of setbacks (an NCAA-mandated nine game suspension, a foot injury and a host of talented and experienced guards in front of him in Kansas' rotation) never really gave him the opportunity to fully show what he can do for the Jayhawks. Despite being projected as a borderline first-rounder early on, Selby nevertheless elected to jump headfirst into the draft, and will now try to work his way up draft boards through private workouts and the NBA combine.
Iman Shumpert, PG/SG, Junior, Georgia Tech*
A former McDonald's All-American, Shumpert had somewhat of a breakout year in his junior season, but did so playing for one of the worst teams in the ACC. Always considered an NBA-level athlete and defender, Shumpert's slow development as a perimeter shooter and decision-maker has tempered some of the enthusiasm around his professional prospects. Now projected as a borderline first-rounder -- and likely on the outside looking in -- Shumpert will need to decide whether to stay in the draft and try to up his stock through private workouts or return to school and play for a brand new head coach.
Greg Smith, C, Sophomore, Fresno State
A big, burly center with NBA-caliber size, strength and sometimes talent, Smith regressed at Fresno State this season after a very promising freshman campaign. The poor environment he was in probably had something to do with that, but he needed to show more aggressiveness and internal motivation to overcome his situation and help his team win more games. Smith didn't wait long to enter the draft and hire an agent, and he'll be a hot name on the individual workout scene.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Junior, Washington*
Thomas had a memorable junior season, putting up some eye-popping numbers in the Pac-10 conference after backcourtmate Abdul Gaddy went down with injury. Thomas elected to take advantage of a weak draft class and has announced he will not be returning to school next year, even though he's yet to hire an agent. Considering his age (22), the season he's coming off and the fact that his biggest limitation (his height) is unlikely to change, it's difficult to criticize his decision.
Trey Thompkins, PF, Junior, Georgia
Thompkins was expected to have a breakout junior season but instead stagnated somewhat, looking out of shape and not overly motivated for long stretches. He didn't take long to announce he'd enter the draft and hire an agent, and now he finds himself firmly on the first-round bubble, thanks to his obvious talent level and a weakened draft pool (particularly at his position).
Jordan Williams, C, Sophomore, Maryland*
Williams put up strong rebounding numbers in the ACC this season, although mostly in a losing effort. Scouts question whether he has the athleticism and disposition to produce at the same level in the NBA, but Williams looks intent on keeping his name in the draft, even if he's far from being a guaranteed first-rounder at this point.
Cory Joseph, PG/SG, Freshman, Texas*
A McDonald's All-American in 2010, Joseph had a solid but not overwhelming freshman season and was widely expected to return to Texas for his sophomore year. Not possessing great physical attributes for an NBA point guard, and seeing heavy minutes playing off the ball, Joseph is the type of prospect who will wow scouts with his production in the short-term more-so than with his long-term potential. Alas, when best buddy and fellow Canadian Tristan Thompson went back on his word and decided to enter the draft, Joseph decided he wanted in, too. But this could put him in a fairly complicated situation down the road, since he's using up his lone "test the waters" card.
Jereme Richmond, SF, Freshman, Illinois
A McDonald's All-American in 2010 and a key piece on the USA Basketball team that won the Under-18 FIBA Americas championship in San Antonio last summer, expectations were very high for Richmond going into his freshman year. He struggled to fulfill them this past season, coming off the bench and seeing heavy minutes at the power forward position, playing for a dysfunctional team that underachieved badly and clearly struggled with internal issues. Richmond played a part in that, leaving the team at one point and being unable to play in the NCAA tournament due to suspension following a locker room altercation with teammate Brandon Paul. Richmond elected to leave the team and enter the draft, and now he finds himself firmly on the first-round bubble. He has plenty of time to work his way up draft boards, and will surely be someone every team wants to take a look at.
Hollis Thompson, SF, Sophomore, Georgetown*
Thompson is a talented prospect, but few expected him to enter the draft following his sophomore year. His breakout season would likely come next season, but Thompson is reportedly unhappy at Georgetown and is considering transferring, according to reports I've received.
Every year of group of juniors enter the draft solely because they have nothing to lose. Under NCAA rules, student-athletes are allowed to "test the waters" once without jeopardizing their eligibility. While it's debatable how much these players will actually accomplish due to the shortened window legislated by the NCAA -- they must withdraw by May 8th at the latest -- the following players will almost certainly return to school when the smoke ultimately clears.
Olu Ashaolu, SF/PF, Junior, Louisiana Tech*
Laurence Bowers, PF, Junior, Missouri*
Mamadou Diarra, Center, Junior, Chaminade*
Kim English, SG, Junior, Missouri*
Jeremy Green, SG/SF, Junior, Stanford*
Desmond Holloway, SF, Junior, Coastal Carolina*
Terrence Jennings, PF/C, Junior, Louisville*
Orlando Johnson, SF, Junior, UC Santa Barbara*
Kevin Jones, PF, Junior, West Virginia*
David Loubeau, PF, Junior, Texas A&M*
Greg Mangano, C, Junior, Yale*
Cameron Moore, PF/C, Junior, Alabama-Birmingham*
Darrion Pellum, SG/SF, Junior, Hampton*
J.P. Primm, PG, Junior, UNC-Asheville*
Ralph Sampson III, Center, Junior, Minnesota*
Carleton Scott, PF, Junior, Notre Dame*
John Shurna, SF/PF, Junior, Northwestern*
Tony Taylor, PG, Junior, George Washington*
Brandon Wood, SG, Junior, Valparaiso*
Can't say I'm too aware of any of the following individuals' pro prospects (or lack thereof).
Jacob Blankenship, C, Junior, Southeastern (FL)
Roscoe Davis, F, Freshman, Midland JC (TX)
TyShwan Edmondson, G, Junior, Austin Peay
Tiondre Johnson, F, Sophomore, Coastal Bend JC (TX)
Ryan Kelley, F, Sophomore, Colorado
Dan Kelm, G, Sophomore, Viterbo (WI)
Keishawn Mayes, F, Junior, Campbell
Thomas Tibbs Jr., G, Junior, Staten Island
Antoine Watson, G, Junior, Florida International
Charlie Westbrook, G, Junior, South Dakota
Players who became automatically eligible for the NBA draft by virtue of leaving high school or college for professional basketball.
Kyle Austin, SF/PF, Faymasa Palencia (Spain) [Formerly UC-Riverside]
Michael Dunigan, C, BC Kalev (Estonia) [Formerly Oregon]
Angel Garcia, PF, Unicaja Malaga (Spain) [Formerly Memphis]
Will Graves, SF, Akita (Japan BJ League) [Formerly North Carolina]
Ater Majok, PF/C, Gold Coast (Australia) [Formerly UConn]
Jamine Peterson, PF, New Mexico Thunderbirds (D-League) [Formerly Providence]
Rico Pickett, SG, Dnipro (Ukraine) [Formerly Manhattan]
Jeremy Tyler, C, Tokyo Apache (Japan) [Ex-Louisville Commit]
Max Zhang, C, Shanghai (China) [Formerly Cal]
Jonathan Givony is the publisher of DraftExpress.com.