It’s that time of year again, when hot-shot freshman and dudes nobody has ever heard of declare for the NBA Draft. Many college underclassman will not hire agents right away, allowing them the possibility to return to school. And then there are the head scratchers; players who hire agents despite having little or no chance of playing in the NBA right away–or ever.
This year’s crop of early entries is absolutely enormous and downright puzzling. Let’s sort through the chaos, one step at a time.
NBA or bust: No turning back now
The following players have either hired agents, withdrawn from school, or both:
Solomon Alabi, Florida State: Put up modest numbers during his career, but could be a lottery pick. Has a bright future.
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas: Teammate Sherron Collins announced Aldrich would declare for the draft shortly after the Jayhawks’ loss to Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament. Should be a top-15 pick, without question.
Al-Farouq Aminu, F, Wake Forest: Tons of raw talent and potential, Aminu could end up being the next Donte Green. Needs to get stronger and improve shot, but is expected to be a lottery pick.
James Anderson, G, Oklahoma State: The Big 12 Player of the Year is a great scorer. Not overly athletic or versatile, but should have a solid NBA career.
Luke Babbit, F, Nevada: Interesting prospect, could have used another year. Not a great athlete, but will play in the NBA.
Craig Brackins, F, Iowa State: Career numbers are amazing, high-release on shot reminiscent of Rasheed Wallace. Skinny frame and might never be able to add enough beef to play inside, making him a Joe Smith type of player. Never had much talent around him and could have used another year at ISU.
Derrick Caracter, F/C, UTEP: The former Louisville malcontent had a nice season at UTEP and could still decide to return to school. Very skilled, also very overweight; should make an NBA roster someday.
DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Kentucky: Got in better shape throughout the season and showed impressive agility for his size. Put up huge numbers despite facing swarming double teams. Criticized for having a bad attitude; I’m more concerned about his work ethic.
Ed Davis, F/C, North Carolina: Just about everyone thinks Davis will be a top-10 pick despite his slight frame and what was a fairly unimpressive college career. Could an NBA team pass on another Chris Paul to select another Marvin Williams? Quite possibly.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia: Very versatile player showed flashes of potential during his two years. Has some perimeter skills but can’t shoot. Could be an excellent defensive player in the NBA.
Derrick Favors, F, Georgia Tech: Everybody assumed Favors would be a one-and-done when he committed to Georgia Tech. He could return for his sophomore season in hopes of being the top pick in 2011. If he stays in the draft, he should be selected in the top 10.
Courtney Fortson, G, Arkansas: Tremendous talent, undersized and inconsistent. Could have a long NBA career, but will never be a star.
Tiny Gallon, F, Oklahoma: Not overly athletic, but nimble for his size. Could stand to get in better shape and develop mid-range jump shot.
Charles Garcia, F, Seattle: Downright baffling entry to be honest. By the end of last season, Garcia’s minutes and production were dwindling. Has talent, but not even close to ready for the NBA.
Paul George, F, Fresno State: Tons of upside, but needs to add strength and improve handle. Returning to school could make him a lottery pick next year.
Manny Harris, G, Michigan: Harris has talent, but is a streaky shooter, limited handler, and overrated player. Seems to have a high opinion of his game and little interest in playing for the Wolverines, so don’t expect to return to school.
Xavier Henry, G, Kansas: Although he wasn’t always overly assertive as a freshman, Henry is a smart and talented player. Certainly ready to make the jump; could become a star at the next level.
Armon Johnson, G, Nevada: Shoots 23 percent from 3-point range, commits 3.4 turnovers per game, and is ready to play pro ball. Not a good decision to say the least.
Wes(ley) Johnson, G/F, Syracuse: Showed tremendous improvement after transferring from Iowa State. Very athletic with improved range, needs to work on handle.
Mac Koshwal, F/C, DePaul: Interesting prospect has had difficulty staying healthy. Could have used another year, but let’s face it, things at DePaul aren’t exactly suitable for improving pro stock.
Sylven Landesburg, G, Virginia: Had wonderful freshman campaign and a sophomore season to forget. Won’t return to Virginia, not likely to have an impact in the NBA immediately.
Gani Lawal, F/C, Georgia Tech: Probably not a great move. A ferocious rebounder with limited offensive game.
Tommy Mason-Griffin, G, Oklahoma: WTF? We covered this story last week. Mason-Griffin will be lucky to land a job overseas.
Greg Monroe, F, Georgetown: Very similar to Chris Bosh as far as his skill set, needs to play with assertiveness on a regular basis.
A.J. Ogilvy, F, Vanderbilt: The Aussie is very skilled, but limited athletically. A low-risk late first early second round pick, but lacks upside.
Patrick Patterson, F, Kentucky: Patterson had an inconsistent season in John Calipari’s system. Has a nice set of skills, but tends to drift to the perimeter. Most likely a high first-round pick.
Eniel Polynice, G, Ole Miss: Frustrated coach Andy Kennedy and never lived up to potential. Had no interest in staying at Ole Miss, will most likely end up overseas.
Larry Sanders, F, VCU: I saw Sanders play during the Eric Maynor era and loved his game. Very talented and long, has lots of upside.
Lance Stephenson, F, Cincinnati: One of the best high school players to ever come out of New York, Stephenson had an inconsistent freshman season. Has an NBA body, but shot needs a ton of work.
Evan Turner, G/F, Ohio State: Best player in college basketball. Shot still needs some work, but should be the first or second pick in the draft.
Ekpe Udoh, F, Baylor: Athletic and versatile, somewhat lacking on the offensive end. Another year at Baylor could make him a lottery pick.
John Wall, G, Kentucky: Can’t shoot, but it doesn’t matter. Will almost certainly be the top pick in the draft and have a terrific NBA career.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma: Warren never lived up to expectations during his two seasons at OU. Has talent, but has battled injuries inconsistency.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall: The skinny freshman led the nation in blocked shots and could be a lottery pick. Very raw, but has shown a good touch around the basket and even some perimeter skills.
Elliot Williams, G, Memphis: The former Dukey blossomed in his sophomore season at Memphis, showing athleticism and a solid offensive game. Should have a solid NBA career.
Jahmar Young, G, New Mexico State: Needs work but has ability. Would be strongly advised to return to NMSU.
Likely to remain in draft, no official word yet
Eric Bledsoe, G, Kentucky: Bledsoe’s talent was masked somewhat by John Wall, but he could have a nice pro career at point guard. Needs to work hard on his jumper.
Avery Bradley, G, Texas: Bradley has a ton of ability, but produced only modest numbers during his freshman season. Very similar to former UCLA guard Jrue Holiday; needs to improve his point guard skills.
Jordan Crawford, G, Xavier: One of the best pure scorers in college basketball. Needs to get stronger and improve other areas of his game. Staying in school would greatly improve his stock for next year’s draft.
Darrington Hobson, G/F, New Mexico: Not great at anything, but good at everything. Intriguing prospect.
Dominique Jones, G, South Florida: Nice and smooth, makes the game look easy. Improved his all-around game in his junior season; probably has reached his ceiling on the college level.
Arnett Moultrie, F, UTEP: Loads of upside, but still a big project. Would be a great value as a late second-round pick.
Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky: Averaging 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds as a freshman was apparently enough for Orton to test NBA waters. Will play in the NBA someday, but needs a ton of work.
Terrico White, G, Ole Miss: Tremendous talent, tends to drift through games without making an impact. Should stay in school, could be a very high pick next year.
Still in draft, but not for long
Lavoy Allen, F, Temple: A solid role player at Temple, needs to get bigger and improve all facets of his game.
Kevin Anderson, G, Richmond: The A-10 player of the year needs to work on his J.
Talor Battle, G, Penn State: Underrated athletically, but small and not a great shooter. Probably not looking forward to returning to Penn State.
Anatoly Bose, G/F, Nichols State: No idea whatsoever.
Dee Bost, G, Mississippi State: Streaky shooter but not much of an NBA prospect.
Carlon Brown, G/F, Utah: Dynamic athlete, needs to keep working on his shot.
Mike Davis, F, Illinois: Lanky player with some perimeter skills, but a long way from being ready for the NBA.
Paul Davis, F, Winston-Salem State: Joins Bose as players to declare for the draft I know nothing about and have never seen play. Listed at 6-9, 195 pounds.
Malcolm Delaney, G, Virginia Tech: Delaney quietly led the ACC in scoring this season. Similar to former UConn guard A.J. Price; he could use another year.
Kenneth Faried, F, Morehead State: The first early entry that doesn’t make much sense. Plays bigger than 6-8, but not ready for the NBA. At least he was smart enough to not hire an agent.
Jimmer Fredette, G, BYU: Old school game with a deadly jump shot; also very, very slow. Can’t really improve his game by staying in school, should be able to make an NBA roster, although maybe not right away.
Gordon Hayward, G/F, Butler: The face of Butler’s Final Four run, Hayward would be wise to return to school. Lacks strength and a consistent jump shot.
Jeremy Hazell, G, Seton Hall: A better version of Manny Harris with ridiculous range. Jamal Crawford, without the handle. Has never met a shot he didn’t like–or take–but needs to get stronger.
Adnan Hodzic , F/C, Lipscomb: I have no idea. I have never seen him play, and a search of the internet reveals little about his game.
JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue: Played with more consistency during his junior season, but benefited from a Big 10 with a very weak collection of interior players. Would get bullied in the NBA; needs to stay in school and get much stronger.
Ravern Johnson, G, Mississippi State: Similar size and shooting ability to Joe Johnson, but an average athlete and poor all-around player.
Kenny Lawson, F/C, Creighton: Good player in the Missouri Valley, probably will never play in the League.
Demetri McCamey, G, Illinois: McCamey has some talent and was one of the most valuable players in college basketball last season. Has improved his range throughout his career, but point guard skills still need work.
Elijah Millsap, F, UAB: The younger brother of Paul Millsap, Elijah had a good season at UAB. Athletic, but still raw. Needs to improve perimeter skills; projects as a wing player in the NBA.
E’Twuan Moore, G, Purdue: Good mid-range game, but not a great ball-handler, average athlete, average shooter. Not even close to being ready for the NBA.
Herb Pope, F, Seton Hall: An intriguing prospect known more for being a problem than having a decent game. Versatile and capable of producing huge numbers. Recently collapsed during a workout at Seton Hall, could hurt his chances of being drafted.
Jeff Robinson, F, Seton Hall: No chance of playing in the NBA. We’ll just leave it at that.
Alex Tyus, F, Florida: Athletic and long, but lacks size to play inside and skills to play outside. Needs another year, without doubt.
Chris Wright, G, Georgetown: Talks in a high-pitched voice that reminds me of Mike Tyson. From a basketball standpoint, an athletic scoring guard with good strength. Could use another year.
Underclassman who have withdrawn from draft
Keith Benson, F, Oakland (Michigan): Made the correct decision to return to school. Has good athletic ability and a nice skill set, but at 6-11, 215 pounds, desperately needs to get stronger.
Chris Wright, F, Dayton: It seems like Wright has been in school forever already, but he still has another year of eligibility remaining. Good all-around player, not great at any one thing however.