The 2012 NBA draft is absolutely loaded with college stars. Unlike some of the previous classes—which were filled with high-upside players with little game tape—many of these kids have already cut their teeth and proven themselves with big numbers and solid performances.
While not all of the star players have declared just yet, such as the potential one-and-doners from the 2012 Kentucky national title team, you can be assured many will if they haven’t already.
Let’s take a look at the latest mock with an eye on some players that excelled at collegiate basketball.
*Order based on current standings and projected finish.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis was the best player in the regular season and got even better during 2012 NCAA tournament. He’s going to make an instant impact in the NBA because of his shot blocking and defense.
When his offensive game finally catches up and is equal or better to his defensive prowess, this Wildcat is going to become a superstar.
2. Washington Wizards: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
If Davis was the best player, Robinson was an extremely close second. The junior out of Kansas led his team to a runner-up performance in the tournament and put up huge numbers all year long.
He doesn’t have the same upside as Davis (he’s already 21 years old), but he has just as much talent right now and makes perfect sense for a Wizards team that needs a proven winner.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
MKG is another defensive specialist from Kentucky that has a chance to be special if his offense ever gets to the same level.
No one plays with more heart and exerts more effort on every single play than this young man.
4. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Drummond wasn’t able to dominate against lesser competition at UConn and it remains to be seen if he can adapt to his massive frame and become a good NBA center. It’s a high-risk, high-reward pick for the Kings here.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Brad Beal, Florida
Beal is arguably the best shooting guard in the class. He got better and better as the season went along and proved he can do everything required of a two at the next level. Pairing him in the backcourt with Kyrie Irving would be a dream come true for the Cavs.
6. Toronto Raptors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Barnes is a born scorer that has a chance to become a shining star with the Raptors as their No. 1 scoring option. He spent an extra year with the Tar Heels working on his game and that should help him adjust to the pros much faster.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey): Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
As is the case with Drummond, Lamb’s focus and intensity need some improvement, but his natural talent and abilities make him a lottery prospect. Portland is going to need an elite young SG and this is the best one on the board.
8. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Detroit is working on building a long, athletic frontcourt with Greg Monroe as the centerpiece. Putting Henson next to him is a safe bet and you can be sure this team will return to the playoffs soon with that duo down low.
9. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger may be the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft after two years of dominance at Ohio State. He fits in with a Utah team that is in competition for a playoff spot and ready to continue doing so every year.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota): Damian Lillard, Weber State
This explosive athlete can play either guard position and immediately helps the point guard position in New Orleans. The Hornets direly need it after shipping Chris Paul to the Clippers.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
The Blazers need a center and someone who can contribute immediately, which is why they take a senior in Zeller here. He’s not going to be an NBA star, but he’s going to contribute from day one.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
After trading away Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have to get bigger on the interior. Leonard is one of the biggest bodies in the class and has a lot of upside.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall led the nation in assists last season. Even if Steve Nash stays or goes, Marshall is a natural heir to his throne in the desert.
14. Utah Jazz: Tony Wroten Jr., Washington
The Huskies product has major upside and the most potential of any point guard in this weak crop of them.
He’s the missing young point guard the Jazz need as they have youth at every other position right now.
15. Houston Rockets (via New York): Doron Lamb
Lamb did some work in the national title game and proved he’s worthy of a lottery pick. The 6’4” guard is a long-range bomber who isn’t afraid of taking (and making) a big shot.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Jones’ inconsistency is annoying to those who have watched him play. He should be a top-five pick, but he doesn’t play like it every night. When he is on, he is on and it’s worth a gamble by the 76ers that he’ll become less streaky in the pros.
17. New Jersey Nets (via Houston): Perry Jones, Baylor
PJIII is another maddeningly enigmatic prospect. He’s supposed to be battling with Davis for the No. 1 spot, but his poor play in big games derailed those hopes.
However, Jones has so much upside that taking him at No. 17 and hoping he turns into a star is worth it for a team like the Nets.
18. Denver Nuggets: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross put together a nice NIT tournament and really boosted his stock going into the draft. He’s a nice option for the Nuggets off the bench to start his career.
19. Houston Rockets (via Dallas): Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor is a supreme athlete that is continuing to get his jumper down. If he can continue playing above the rim while forcing his defenders up close to him on the perimeter, the Vandy product will be a useful NBA player.
20. Atlanta Hawks: Moe Harkless, St. John’s
Atlanta is a perennial playoff team that has no hope of actually winning the Finals. The Hawks simply don’t have the star power. Harkless has a chance to be one of those late-round picks that develops into an elite player, and that is exactly what the Hawks must take a chance on.
21. Boston Celtics: Austin Rivers, Duke
Rivers could go anywhere from the high lottery to the late-first round. He’s got a lot of work to do during the combine and pre-draft workouts. If he slips up, the Celtics will not let him fall past this spot and he’ll become the shooting guard of the future in Boston with his dad as the coach.
22. Orlando Magic: C.J. Leslie, NC State
Leslie is a supreme athlete that plays both forward positions well. He’s going to be a nice backup in Orlando right out of the gate if the Magic choose him.
23. Memphis Grizzlies: Royce White, Iowa State
This big boy measures in at 6’8” and 270 pounds and looks to be a rock in the paint. He’s going to be tough to box out and a surefire rebounder at the next level.
24. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie is another lottery or late-round prospect and the Celtics (again) aren’t going to let him continue his free-fall. He’s got the size the team direly needs to continue competing for an NBA championship. Nice upside to boot.
25. Indiana Pacers: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Some scouts see a bit of Dwyane Wade in Waiters, especially when he is cutting to the hoop. Even if he’s half the player that Wade is, that is a steal at No. 25.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
With Cleveland addressing its need for a SG early in the draft, the Cavs can go for a big man with upside late. Melo represents that and he’s a good value at No. 26, especially after he killed his stock by being suspended for the NCAA tournament.
27. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio): Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green is a winner that cares about playing defense and getting his teammates to do well. Golden State needs a player like this in its locker room as it tries to make a playoff push in 2012-13.
28. Miami Heat: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
The Bonnies PF has the experience to log minutes in the NBA right away. He’s also got a silky smooth mid-range game and that would be perfect coming off the bench in Miami to play the PF spot.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli’s making a late push to get into the first round and the Thunder may just take a stab here. He could become a great backup to Kendrick Perkins.
30. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Rip Hamilton’s injury concerns means the team isn’t done addressing its need for a two guard, especially a young one like Jenkins.
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