Every year a number of underclassmen players enter their name into the NBA Draft in hopes of finally earning that big payday that they have striven for their whole amateur career. While some of those players are justified in declaring due to family financial strains or some other personal reasons, a number of players actually hurt their chances of becoming a better player and limit their future earnings by entering a year or two too early. Some of these early entry candidates risk either slipping into the 2nd round or not getting drafted altogether and would have benefitted from another year in college.
1) Ed Davis, North Carolina
’09-’10 Stats: 12.9 ppg, 9.2 rebs, 2.7 blk
Even though Davis possesses the perfect combo of size and skill to be an excellent PF at the next level for years to come, he just isn’t ready. Having an extremely long wingspan, right now Davis excels at the defensive end by blocking nearly 3 shots per game and has shown to have excellent instincts rebounding the basketball. With that being said there are worries that his offensive game hasn’t yet caught up with his defense. By finishing 2nd in scoring on a disappointing Tarheels squad only shows that he has more work to do. With range that only reaches out to 10-12 feet and sometimes having difficulty finding his own shot, he definitely has room to improve. Since he missed UNC’s final 13 games due to a broken wrist, some GM’s will worry he is injury prone. Another year at UNC could earn him a top 5 pick in ’11.
Projected: 10-15 pick
2) Daniel Orton, Kentucky
’09-’10 Stats: 3.4 ppg, 3.3 rebs, 1.4 blk
After playing only 13 mins/game mostly as a substitute for DeMarcus Cousins, Orton barely was able to showcase his talents as another Top 100 recruit playing for John Calipari at Kentucky. Right now his defense and rebounding are leaps and bounds ahead of his offense and is devoid of a signature move in the paint. He has very soft hands with the rock and with playing time opening at UK with the departure of Cousins, the situation seems right for Daniel to become the next great big man in college basketball. Fortunately for him, he has not yet hired an agent and may be able to return to the Wildcats if he falls out of the 1st round. Has the potential to be a lottery pick next season.
Projected: Late 1st or Early 2nd round
3) Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
’09-’10 Stats: 12.3 ppg, 5.4 rebs, 2.5 ast
Having prototypical size as a 2 guard, Lance undoubtedly will be a great NBA player some day, but after a widely inconsistent freshman campaign at Cincinnati, he has proven to not quite be ready for the professional ranks. On the plus side, he has shown moments of super-stardom by providing quite a few highlight reel moments while leading both the Bearcats and the Big East in scoring among freshmen. He has tremendous ability off the dribble and can already get to the rim with some of the better players in the country but needs to improve his shot selection(as evidence of his 44% from the field) and playing off of the ball. Another year in college with a chance to lead Cincinnati to the NCAA Tournament and showing off his skills to the nation could have made Lance a lottery pick in ’11.
Projected: Late 2nd round
4) Avery Bradley, Texas
’09-’10 Stats: 11.6 ppg, 2.1 ast, 1.3 stl
After coming out of HS last year as the #1 rated recruit in the nation, Bradley has been both good and inconsistent for the Longhorns this season. His strength lies in the open court and is a nightmare to defend off of a break-away with the ball in his hands. At 6’2, he is a classic tweaner and may need to play the point at the next level even though he is best suited at the 2. He has proven to have an all-around game but could use more seasoning to improve on his low 43% FG percentage. Avery needs to work on his half court game even though he hit from a respectable 37% from behind the arc. As an excellent man defender, he could help out an NBA club right away as a defensive specialist off the bench. Another year to work on his offensive game could put him in the lottery.
Projected: Late 1st round
5) Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
’09-’10 Stats: 12 ppg, 8 rebs, 2.4 ast, 1.1 stl
In a draft filled with SF prospects, Ebanks in time may turn out to be one of the best in this class because of his unique skill set of being able to to a many number of things good but not yet great. He has proven to have excellent range out to 15 feet, but is not a 3 point threat and struggles to create his own shot. He has shown the ability to be a good offensive rebounder but gets forced out of the paint on defense. Devin is an excellent and versatile defender who can defend smaller players because of his long wingspan but struggles against bigger forwards. With teammate Da’Sean Butler graduating and a number of underclassmen returning to WVU, Ebanks could have been the man next season and further strengthen his draft stock.
Projected: Mid to Late 1st round
Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckblog.com, and his own site, Hoops Haven.