What to make of Noel, early entrants
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
NBA draft season hit full stride Monday, one week after the NCAA championship game. Four likely first-round picks announced they were leaving school early, led by injured Kentucky center Nerlens Noel.
Plenty of players have yet to announce their decisions for the June 27 draft, including UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Expect those announcements soon, though the deadline is April 28. And keep in mind players can pull out of the draft and return to college by June 17, provided they stay within NCAA rules and don’t hire an agent.
USA TODAY Sports takes a quick look at 10 top underclassmen who already have declared:
Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Think Larry Johnson, all the way down to the Runnin’ Rebels preparation. Bennett is part of the recent Canadian basketball surge, one of its top prospects because of his scoring ability and athleticism. Bennett, like Johnson, doesn’t quite fit either forward position, but that has become less of an issue in the 22 years since Johnson was picked first overall.
Trey Burke, Michigan
The consensus national player of the year is hands-down the best traditional point guard in this draft. Burke is built like a bulldog and knows how to use his squat frame and crafty ballhandling to make room for his shot. Pushing Michigan to the national title game helped his stock and will help teams ignore his 6-0 stature.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Playing for a mediocre team has its advantages and disadvantages. Caldwell-Pope has spent the past two seasons with a green light to fire three-pointers, but he also received little exposure to the basketball community. Caldwell-Pope fits the mold of a traditional NBA shooting guard, but his loose trigger will need to be reined in.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Big point guards are a dying breed in the NBA, as quickness has been emphasized with players like Chris Paul and Ty Lawson. Carter-Williams may have to be an exception. At 6-6, he uses his height and athleticism to see holes in opposing defenses. He doesn’t have the jump shot required to play shooting guard, but his ability to defend them should allow him to … [For more on NBA draft: What to make of Nerlens Noel, early entrants, click here.]