Arizona's Stanley Johnson and Utah's Jakob Poeltl are among 10 intriguing college players yet to declare for the NBA draft.
For players like Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, the decision to leave college early is an easy one. Of course, not everyone is Okafor or Towns. The “should I stay or should I go” question is a lot tougher for many players to answer. It’s so challenging, in fact, that a bevy of very talented players still have not yet made up their minds. We look at the 10 most intriguing below (listed alphabetically; class indicates the year just completed; all draft projections according to Draft Express).
But first, a note: It must be said that these decisions belong to the players, and the players alone. It might be fun for us to debate whether a guy should go pro or stay in college for another year, but these players will and should do what is in their own best interests. No one should judge that. This simply looks at whether or not a player would be better off, purely from a basketball standpoint, from getting another year of seasoning in college.
Auguste was one of the best players on the floor in Notre Dame’s near upset of Kentucky in the Elite Eight. That game, in which he scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds against one of the best frontcourts in the country, placed him on the radar of NBA teams, but he still isn’t a projected draft pick. Another strong season in South Bend could change that. Verdict: He should stay.
Dunn had a monster season, taking the Friars back to the NCAA tournament and sharing Big East Player of the Year honors with Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono. The success was a long time coming, as Dunn dealt with multiple shoulder injuries during each of his first two years in Providence. Dunn has good size for a point guard, and is quick enough off the bounce to get into the lane in the NBA. Couple that with that injury history, as well as a first-round projection, and Dunn’s decision appears to be a layup. Verdict: He should go.
In an up-and-down season for the Hoosiers, it always seemed to be Ferrell who created a big shot and stepped up when Indiana needed it the most. Unfortunately for Ferrell, this draft is deep on point guards, with Dunn, Tyus Jones, Emmanuel Mudiay, Cameron Payne, D’Angelo Russell and Delon Wright. Ferrell could easily get lost in that shuffle. He's undersized at 6-feet, so it wouldn’t hurt to spend one more year in Bloomington proving he can be a floor general. Verdict: He should stay.
Hammons finally became the player this year everyone in West Lafayette has been waiting for since he arrived on campus three years ago. At 7-feet and 260 pounds, there’s no doubt he’d get drafted. At the same time, he just now seems to be understanding how to play offense in the post, and carries a mid-second-round projection. He can be a scorer out of the post in the NBA, but there’s still more work to be done. If he can take another step forward in college next season, he could be a first-rounder in 2016. Verdict: He should stay.
Hield was the Player of the Year in a strong Big 12 conference, leading the Sooners in scoring and taking them to the Sweet 16. Draft Express has him coming off the board in the first part of the second round, but there are other services out there that label him a late-first rounder. He’s a capable scorer and can be a second ball handler at the 2-guard, but he’s also undersized for his position. One more dominant year in the Big 12, however, could propel him up draft boards in 2016. Verdict: He should stay.
Johnson was an engine at both ends of the floor for the Wildcats, which cruised to the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles but again fell just short of the Final Four. Everyone agrees that he’d be an easy lottery pick if he declares for the draft, and he could potentially work his way into the top five. Johnson’s defense is NBA-ready, as he could immediately become one of the better wing defenders in the league. With his athleticism, teams will be willing to bet that his offense will grow with their teaching. Verdict: He should go.
Stats: 9.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg
Projected pick: First round, 11th overall
Playing on a bad team out West pushed Wallace under the radar, but he was one of the best players in the Pac-12, and the Bears failings can’t be placed at his feet. Like Ferrell, he has to gage exactly where he’ll measure up against the other point guards in this draft. Unlike Ferrell, he’s 6’5” and 200 pounds, and can play some 2-guard at the next level. He projects as an early-second-round pick, but he could jump into the first round by impressing in his workouts. Verdict: He should go.