2012 NBA Draft Early Entrants List: April 5, 2012

Here you will find the official list, and I will let you know if a player has hired an agent or not. Also, I will give some commentary on his game and where I think he will be selected. This will be updated regularly as more and more players declare. Click the Sports By Blayze logo on the top left corner of the screen to access the main page of the blog and then scroll down to find the most recent update.

Updated: April 5, 2012
(Jared Sullinger, Trey Burke)

Officially Declared (Hired Agent)

SF Harrison Barnes, So, North Carolina. It is clear that Harrison Barnes is not the next LeBron James/Kevin Durant super hype prospect. But I think people are overreacting to his disastrous NCAA Tournament performance. I don't think he drops out of the top 8 picks in this draft. He might be somewhat one dimensional, but the thing he does well is what is most coveted by teams picking in the top ten. He scores. He has a very good offensive game and should settle in around 18-20 ppg during his prime in the NBA. The Danny Granger comparisons are pretty on point. I still think he is in the discussion for second pick overall behind Anthony Davis. Let's not forget, the other guys in contention (Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) also have holes in their game. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 2 Through 7.

C Meyers Leonard, So, Illinois. I have hyped Leonard as a mid to late lottery pick all year, and I won't back off that now. Guys like him always seem to find their way into the lottery. He is still very raw and needs to put on some muscle, but he has all you look for in a solid starting center. He is 7'1, and has good rebounding and shot blocking instincts. At a skinny 245 pounds, he will be pushed around initially, but can improve that area of his game. We have seen much weaker prospects go in the top ten. I think after the big five are off the board, he could be picked as high as 6th, and I don't think he lasts past the lottery. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 6 Through 12.

PF Jared Sullinger, So, Ohio St. There is no player in this draft who will have more negative things said about him then Sullinger. He is fat, has short arms, can't jump, can't run the floor. But he is productive. He should study tape of Zach Randolph, who knows how to get his shot off and score on anyone even with a 3 inch vertical. It was probably smart for Sullinger to declare because his stock would only continue to go down as more holes are found in his game. Sullinger will be an acquired taste for any GM, and he could go anywhere from 6th to 14th. He will have to prove that he can be an effective NBA player, because his shortcomings outweigh his talents. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 6 Through 14.

SG Austin Rivers, Fr, Duke. Rivers is a big name and has an explosive, NBA friendly offensive game. But where does he fit in a starting lineup? He is more of a combination guard, a Monta Ellis (best case scenario) or Jimmer Fredette (worst case) type. He will probably be at his best as a first guard off the bench to provide some offense to a second unit. But if he hones his offensive game and greatly improves his defense, he could eventually become a starting shooting guard. A lot will depend on what team he lands on and what kind of coaching he will receive. But his offense will be coveted, and I think he will be a late lottery pick. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 8 through 15.

PG Kendall Marshall, So, North Carolina. Several teams in the back end of the lottery are in need of a point guard of the future. They will have their pick between Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall. Both have a chance to start in this league, but both are complete opposites as players. Marshall does not have elite athleticism but knows how to lead a team. The Tar Heels fell completely apart when he got hurt in the tournament. He improved his offense during the second half of the season and was the best floor general in college basketball, setting several assist records along the way. He has his limitations, but if he is not asked to shoulder a heavy scoring burden, could be a good fit for some teams. Perhaps just as important, this is not a deep point guard class, and next year looks just as weak, so if a team wants to get a point guard, they may have to overdraft for him. Which is why I think he is a lottery pick. Projected Selection: 9 Through 15.

PG Damian Lillard, Jr, Weber St. Weber St. missed out on the NCAA Tournament, so Lillard was not able to become a household name like someone like CJ McCollom of Lehigh. Lillard was the second leading scorer in the entire nation this season, and was a one man show for Weber St. Like most small school studs, Lillard had the ball in his hands pretty much all the time and was counted on to do everything. While it is true that he is more of a scoring point guard right now, his 2.3 turnovers in 34 minutes a game shows that he has the skills to be a floor leader. He will battle with polar opposite Kendall Marshall to be the first point guard off the board in a shallow point guard draft. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 10 through 20.

PF John Henson, Jr, North Carolina. Henson has improved by leaps and bounds during his three years in Chapel Hill. But he is still a long way from becoming an NBA starter, if he ever does. The track record for very skinny big men is not good in the NBA, meaning he may cap out at about a 20 minute per game backup. What he has going for him is he can block shots and grab the rebound and slam it through. Since he is way too skinny and will get pushed around easily by the better NBA big men, he may have to accept a role as a big man on the second unit. He could have a Chris Andersen NBA career, and maybe a poor man's Marcus Camby or Samuel Dalembert if he packs on some major muscle. Projected Selection: 12 Through 18.

PF Arnett Moultrie, Jr, Mississippi St. Arnett Moultrie had a very good one year for Mississippi St. after transferring from UTEP and sitting out a year. But, the end of the season was disastrous for the Bulldogs, as they fell completely apart and missed the tournament. He looks like a first round lock though. He has good size and a nice inside/outside combination game. He has had some off the court problems, which caused him to transfer, but isn't a huge trouble maker. That could cause him to slide a bit but I think he will still be taken in the teens, with the late lottery a possibility. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 13 Through 20.

SF Moe Harkless, Fr, St. John's. Moe Harkless was the Rookie of the Year for the nation's deepest and most competitive conference. He showed leadership and a well rounded game during his one and only year with St. John's. He has a long, wiry frame that translates into good shot blocking and rebounding for a player of his size. He will be a bit of a throwback small forward in that he prefers to slash instead of simply settling for jump shots. He will need to add some strength but it is not inconceivable that he could provide production as a rookie. I think he is hanging around the 14 through 18 range, but I would not be surprised if he knocked down the late lottery door, similar to what Paul George did a couple years ago. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 14 through 20.

SG Terrence Ross, So, Washington. Like the rest of the Washington Huskies, Ross had an up and down year. He showed in the NIT Tournament why he is a solid first round prospect. He can flat out score and shoot. He averaged 25 points per game in his four NIT games, and made 15 3 pointers. Teams always value guys off the bench who can come in and hit some jump shots. If Ross ever wants to become a starter, he will need to improve other areas of his game, but I think he can come in and be a Klay Thompson type right away. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 15 through 25.

SF/PF Royce White, So, Iowa St. The best Hawkeye since probably Marcus Fizer, White will hope to parlay a very good NCAA Tournament performance into a first round draft pick. He is probably a lock for the first round right now, but there are question marks. First of all, he has a well documented anxiety disorder, including a fear of flying, that he will just have to get over. The NBA does not prod and poke prospects like the NFL does, but NBA teams are going to due their homework with this issue. Secondly, he is a bit of a tweener on the court. But he has a very well rounded game. The talent is there for him to sneak into the lottery, but right now I will put him in the late teens. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 15 through 25

SG Dion Waiters, So, Syracuse. Waiters came off the bench for the Orange but was probably their best and most consistent player in 2011-2012. He would have been better off returning for his junior year, when the team would have been his, but he is a first round pick right now. He is undersized but strong, and should be able to get his shot off against taller guards. A team drafting him might want him to play the same role he played for the Orange, a guard off the bench who can spark the second unit and back up both guard spots. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 15 through 25.

C Fab Melo, So, Syracuse. It is a real shame that Melo was suspended prior to the NCAA Tournament, because Syracuse could have really used his shot blocking and rebounding. Melo is still extremely raw, and may never develop into an NBA starter, but he is a first round prospect simply due to the fact that he is 7 foot and blocks shots. He is a game changer on that end of the court. But his offense is virtually non existent. The team that drafts him will have to have a load of patience, and realize that he may never pan out, similar to someone like Hasheem Thabeet. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 20 through 30

SG Will Barton, So, Memphis. Barton had a tremendous sophomore season for the young Tigers. He improved all of his scoring peripherals tremendously. Despite his improving game, he has plenty of holes and could struggle to crack the first round bubble. He weighs only 170 pounds and will undoubtedly be pushed around on the next level. He has a good slashing game but that most likely won't work with guys weighing 100 pounds more then him clogging up the lane. He will have to improve his shooting to become a factor. He is an exciting player, and depending on how many players declare, could be picked late in the first round. As it stands now, I think he will be one of the first players to come off the board in the second round. Projected Selection: Late 1st to Early 2nd Round.

PG Trey Burke, Fr, Michigan. Burke is following in the footsteps of fellow Wolverine Darius Morris and declaring for the draft way too early. Burke had a great freshman season for Michigan, with averages of 15 points, 4.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds. But he is undersized and not an explosive athlete. If he stayed in school one or two more year, he could have worked himself into the first round, but as it stands right now, he looks like a second round pick and D League All Star. Projected Selection: 2nd Round.
PG Maalik Wayns, Jr, Villanova. There are a lot of good NCAA point guards, but very few of them can make the transition to the NBA. The most common reasons are lack of explosiveness and leadership, or the simple fact that they are just not talented enough. Wayns was a good college scorer that is just not big and fast enough to be an NBA point guard. He also turned the ball over 3 times per game. His game just does not translate. Guys like him can eventually carve out NBA careers, see John Lucas in Chicago right now, but it usually takes a few years overseas to improve his game. Projected Selection: Late 2nd Round to Undrafted.

SG/SF Hollis Thompson, Jr, Georgetown. Thompson has slowly improved every year at Georgetown, finally becoming a key contributor his junior year. He has good size for the position at 6'7, 210. The problem is he really is not that good at anything, and he is not very athletic. He can shoot the ball, and if Steve Novak can make it in the NBA doing nothing but that, Thompson has a chance. He could get drafted very late in the second round, but I think he will go undrafted and have to improve his game elsewhere before the NBA gives him a chance. Projected Selection: Late 2nd Round to Undrafted.

PF Renardo Sidney, Jr, Mississippi St. The tumultuous college career of Renardo Sidney has come to an end. The talented but troubled big man regressed badly during his final year with the Bulldogs, going out with a whimper in the NIT Tournament with 3 points and 3 rebounds. There is talent here, but with his attitude and off the court resume, coupled with his weight troubles, I don't see a team using a draft pick on him. He will have to prove himself in the summer league and D League before a team gives him a chance. Projected Selection: Undrafted.

PG/SG J'Covan Brown, Jr, Texas. Brown was a good volume scorer for Texas last year. He averaged 20 points per game on a ton of shots, but didn't really help the Longhorns win games. He is your classic NCAA scorer who has no chance to be drafted in the league. But those guys who aren't drafted can hone their skills overseas and emerge on an NBA roster a few years later, so this might not be the last we see of Brown. We won't see him in 2012-2013, however. Projected Selection: Undrafted.

PG Raymond Taylor, Jr, Florida Atlantic. This is probably the first and last you will ever hear of this guy. He is 5'6, played in a weak conference, and didn't even score 10 points per game. He declared and hired an agent anyways. If you are reading this Raymond, have fun and good luck. Projected Selection: Undrafted.

Officially Declared (Did Not Hire Agent)

PG/SG CJ McCollum, Jr, Lehigh. Last year we saw small school point guards Reggie Jackson and Norris Cole come off the board in round one. This year we will probably see Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum hear their names called within the first 30 picks. What is it with mid major point guards? Well, the fact that they have the ball in their hands all the time and put up huge numbers put them on the map. McCollum is not in the class of Lillard, however. He will struggle to play point guard in the NBA full time, and will probably carve out a CJ Watson type role in the NBA. He will be a good scorer off the bench and should be a solid rotation player for years. I think he is on the first round bubble, and if he shows some point guard skills, could move up closer to the late teens or early 20's. Projected Selection: 1st Round, 25 Through 30

PG/SG BJ Young, Fr, Arkansas. The exciting freshman Young was the best player for a bad Razorbacks team this year. From the information I can find, he has not hired an agent yet, preserving his college eligibility. He has somewhat of a Monta Ellis game to him. He is at his best with the ball in his hands. He can score a variety of ways, and has some toughness to him. However, he is only 170 pounds so he will have to pack on the pounds, and he does not have great handles to play point guard successfully. Guys like that usually fall to the early second round. He should have a spot on an NBA team next year, but he will have to earn it. Projected Selection: Early 2nd Round.

Every year several lesser known players declare just to test the draft waters. These guys usually aren't worth talking about. At least not yet.

SG Jared Cunningham, Jr, Oregon
SG Quincy Roberts, Jr, Grambling
SF Victor Rudd, So, South Florida

Officially Returning

A guy can change his mind of course, but if they announce that they are returning to college I will list them here.

PF Patric Young, So, Florida. I have had Young in my mock drafts in the teens all year, but returning to school is definitely the right move. He has an NBA body, defense and rebounding right now, but if he wants to reach the lottery, he will really have to continue to improve on the offensive end. Billy Donovan really brings his guys along slowly, but Young will be a junior next year and could finally become a big part of the offense for the Gators. He could be a lottery pick next year.

PG Myck Kabongo, Fr, Texas. Kabongo, the much heralded recruit, had a good freshman year for the Longhorns, but his decision to return to school was a very good one. He has a long way to go before he is strong and smart enough to lead an NBA team. He will return to Texas, where J'Covan Brown will be gone, so the ball will be all his next year. If he can improve his decision making and work on his offense, he could be a lottery pick in a year.

SF Doug McDermott, So, Creighton. McDermott is a college stud, but one of those guys who could struggle on the next level. Unfortunately, if you are white and a big time scorer in college, you will be connected to guys like Adam Morrison and Gordon Hayward. McDermott does not have the athleticism of Hayward, and will probably be a very late first or early second round pick when he declares. I don't think another year of college will improve his stock. He will continue to be a beast in college.

PF Mike Moser, So, UNLV. Moser averaged a double double for a good UNLV team and would have been a first round bubble pick if he declared. But he opted to return to Las Vegas for his redshirt junior year. He will be on track to graduate next spring and could work his way into a first round pick for the 2013 draft. Rebounding is one stat that translates well to the NBA, so even though he is a little undersized, if he works on that part of his game, a playoff team will want him on their bench.

Jonathan Carrano

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