Stay or go? Weighing draft decisions for 10 college stars still considering NBA move
Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins are among the college stars who have already announced their decisions to go to the NBA. Julius Randle and Nik Stauskas are among those who are reportedly going to declare, but nothing official has yet been announced. But there are many other college stars whose intentions regarding the NBA draft have not been announced or even so much as leaked, as the April 27 deadline to declare approaches.
Here's a look at 10 top unannounced players, in alphabetical order, and a wild guess at some draft fortune-telling:
Grant's 6-foot-8, 210-pound frame suggests that he is primed for the NBA. His numbers aren't overwhelming (12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, 49.6 percent shooting), but his value was made more clear when the Orange nosedived while he battled an injury late in the season. Grant must become a more efficient offensive player and would have two more years at Syracuse to do so, but is a possible top 15 selection too good to pass up?
The 6-3, 200-pound junior was a second-team All-America on a team that was arguably the best club to not make the Final Four. Johnson averaged 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists, but may not have a first-round projection. It's a risky call, especially when considering the talent that the Wildcats might return for 2014-15, should Brandon Ashley come back from his foot injury to join a stellar freshman class.
It's difficult to see the 6-4, 210-pound Harris returning to East Lansing for his junior season, especially given his possible lottery position. His shooting percentage dropped from his freshman to his sophomore campaign (.456 to .429), but he battled injuries and nevertheless produced 16.7 points per game while demonstrating effectiveness as a defensive stopper.
Before the NCAA tournament began, when a Kentucky revival was but a faint hope, the idea of the 6-6 backcourt twins moving on after one year seemed inadvisable -- whether they wanted to hear that or not. After a run to the NCAA title game, and Aaron Harrison's late-game heroics in particular, the better bet is that they join the Wildcats' list of one-and-dones.
Montrezl Harrel, Louisville
Moving to the ACC stage and moving into an even more featured role for a Cardinals team that loses All-America guard Russ Smith might be compelling reasons for the 6-8, 240-pound sophomore to return. With an impact year, Harrell might be looking at the lottery in 2015. But he's at least physically ready, and if he has first-round evaluations, that could be enough for him to bolt now.
McGary's draft stock was soaring at this time last year thanks to his breakout NCAA tournament performance as a freshman. He elected to return to Michigan, but back surgery scuttled most of his sophomore season, relegating him to a role as a cheerleader this March. McGary would benefit from another season in Ann Arbor to rebuild his draft stock -- especially if the 2015 draft class isn't as strong -- but does he want to risk another injury?
An All-America as a freshman and a contender for the overall No. 1 pick -- and probably at worst a top-three draft choice -- it would be stunning if the NBA-ready, 6-8 Parker returned to Durham. But he might want a shot at redemption (and a championship) after the Blue Devils' round of 64 NCAA tournament exit, especially given their loaded incoming freshman class that features No. 1 overall recruit and fellow Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor.
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
It appears the trio of potential Michigan early entrees -- Stauskas, Robinson III and McGary -- received their draft evaluations just this week. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, Robinson III is physically mature enough for the next level. But after averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds as a sophomore, he might be a borderline top 20 pick. Is that enough?
James Young, KentuckyRandle appears set for multiple future visits to the NBA All-Star Game. Is Young the next-best sheer talent available on Kentucky's roster? He's 6-7 and was the Wildcats' most prolific outside shooter, with 82 made three-pointers. Still, he shot just 34.9 percent from beyond the arc and took more than half his field goal attempts from out there. But his explosiveness was evident with his dunk in traffic over Connecticut's 7-foot freshman Amida Brimah in the national title game. Young might be able to work his way into the lottery, if he's not there already.