Sure, the 2012 NBA Draft hasn’t even happened yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to 2013.
While this year, the majority of the lottery picks are fairly well-known, next year is completely up for grabs.
Yes, there will be a few freshman that wow us and a few returning players that are expected to put up big numbers, but what about those players no one is talking about?
The Mike Mosers and Thomas Robinsons of the world are ready for the 2012-13 basketball season to start so they can start increasing their draft stock, game by game.
Many of these players have had to wait their turn behind more established stars, but that just means they have had an extra year or two to hone their game.
So, here is a very early look at the 2013 NBA Draft and the players who could come out of nowhere to claim spots early in the first round.
As a high school recruit, Michael Carter-Williams was a McDonald’s All-American, seemingly destined for stardom as soon as he touched a basketball in college.
But then he found himself playing for Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange, perhaps the deepest veteran-led bench in the country.
Carter-Williams learned early on that he had to wait his turn to get on the basketball court. The freshman averaged just 10.3 minutes per game for the Orange.
Despite the short time in which he saw the floor, though, Carter-Williams shot almost 40 percent from three and averaged over two assists per game.
With so few opportunities and shot attempts, those statistics could be telling for his sophomore season.
In the 2012-13 season, however, Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters will have moved on to greener NBA pastures and the backlog at the guard position will have disappeared.
Don’t forget, Carter-Williams spent an entire season going up against Jardine, Waiters and Brandon Triche in practice every single day.
He already had the tools and now, with Boeheim’s coaching and practice after practice, Carter-Williams is ready to burst on the scene.
James Michael McAdoo is not exactly under-the-radar, but his freshman year stats did not necessarily echo the player McAdoo was billed to be when he signed with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Of course, the main reason for McAdoo’s unimpressive 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game was playing behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson in a loaded frontcourt.
But with both of those players departed for the NBA, along with Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall, the Tar Heels are officially McAdoo’s team.
Expect him to step up and realize all of the potential he had as a high school recruit.
When Henson went out for a few games with a wrist injury, McAdoo improved his play tremendously. He had 14 points and eight rebounds against the Maryland Terrapins and 17 points and six rebounds against the Vermont Catamounts in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
McAdoo’s stat line should resemble those two games for most of the 2012-13 season.
As a freshman, Chane Behanan wasted little time in making his presence known. He had double-doubles in his first two games.
Behanan had some monster games—23 points and 10 rebounds against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights—but also tended to disappear.
Like many freshmen, Behanan simply looked like he was still figuring out the Louisville Cardinals’ offense and learning to adjust to the opposing team’s defense.
But when he was on, Behanan was almost impossible to stop.
In the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Behanan finally seemed to get it. He scored in double digits in all five of Louisville’s games and averaged eight rebounds.
Next year, with an entire season of learning and getting acclimated under his belt, Behanan’s performance in the tournament will look more like the norm and less like a breakout performance.
Adonis Thomas was a high-profile recruit who was sidelined for the majority of his freshman season with an injury.
Thomas was supposed to be a huge difference for the Memphis Tigers with his freakish athletic ability and strong frame.
In the games he did play, Thomas showed his potential to have an impact.
The fate of the Memphis team seemed tied to Thomas’ performance. When the Tigers lost to the Georgetown Hoyas, Thomas scored just nine points and had three rebounds.
But when the Tigers narrowly edged the Tennessee Volunteers in overtime, Thomas had 19 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Thomas tried to come back at the end of the season, but was clearly not his old self.
With a full offseason to rest and recuperate, Thomas should come back in his sophomore season hungry and ready to battle.
Amir Williams had the unenviable task of playing behind Ohio State Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger for his entire freshman season.
Williams was not about to dethrone Sullinger, a candidate for National Player of the Year. Instead, he matched up against Sullinger every day in practice.
Going up against someone with the strength and discipline of Sullinger, taught Williams valuable lessons on the defensive end.
And it showed in games.
Against the Syracuse Orange in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Williams pulled down four rebounds in just nine minutes of action along with two blocks.
Early in the season, against the Jackson State Tigers, Williams grabbed seven rebounds and scored five points in a mere 14 minutes on the floor.
Williams has been groomed beautifully by coach Thad Matta and is more than ready to take over for Sullinger.
As a freshman, Myck Kabongo’s inconsistencies mimicked the entire Texas Longhorns basketball team.
At certain points, Kabongo would look like an NBA point guard, penetrating into the lane and finding a teammate with a beautiful pass.
At other times, he would look anything but, recklessly dribbling down the court and taking on three defenders before throwing the ball away.
But Kabongo showed that he has all the tools necessary to make a big impact, not just in college, but at the next level.
Kabongo’s biggest asset is his attitude. He is a pass-first point guard, who can really see the floor and loves looking for open teammates.
He averaged 5.3 assists per game last season and had back-to-back games of 10 assists—against the Missouri Tigers and Kansas State Wildcats, no less.
Once Kabongo becomes more comfortable with his teammates and his role in the offense, he will emerge as one of the best point guards in the country.
The Indiana Hoosiers are primed to have the type of season that lets everyone know that the program is back on top and there to stay for a while.
Cody Zeller and Christian Watford have taken most of the credit for the quick turnaround, but next year, Victor Oladipo’s name will be said right along with the two stars’.
Oladipo is a lightning-quick guard who has a knack for getting to the basket—something this Indiana team sorely needs.
He is capable of going off for big games and can help take some of the pressure off of Zeller and Watford.
Against the Purdue Boilermakers, Oladipo had 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
In his last game of the season against the Kentucky Wildcats, Oladipo had 15 points, two rebounds and three assists despite battling foul trouble. He single-handedly kept the Hoosiers in the game for stretches.
Oladipo will come out strong in his junior year and turn Indiana’s terrible-two into a big three.
The Florida Gators were definitely not known as a team with much inside presence. Led by guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, the Gators’ identity was of the little guy trying to beat up on bigger opponents.
But as Patric Young continues to come into his own, Florida will change its identity yet again.
Young averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in his sophomore season, up from 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in his freshman campaign.
If he continues to make the type of improvement he did between his first two seasons, Young will be a force to be reckoned with in Gainesville.
At 6’9”, Young has the potential to be a David West-type player with a bit more coaching.
He has the perfect tools to become a great player, but Young simply must take a more active role in the offense.
With the departures of Walker and Bradley Beal to the NBA, next year will be his time.
Elijah Johnson was relegated to second-fiddle status last year, playing primarily as Tyshawn Taylor’s sidekick.
But with Taylor and Thomas Robinson off to the NBA, third-option he will be no longer.
Johnson showed sustained flashes of his potential last season, playing 32 minutes and averaging 10.2 points and 3.5 assists per game.
In the Kansas Jayhawks' comeback win against the Purdue Boilermakers in the third round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Johnson scored 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting, single-handedly bringing Kansas back for the win.
With Johnson being counted on to be this year’s Taylor, he will have a heavier load to carry, but he will thrive.
Johnson is a score-first point guard, much like Taylor, but he does not struggle with turning the ball over quite as much as his backcourt mate.
He has also had three years to learn the game as a backup and should come into his senior season with all the confidence and tools to have a breakout year.
Sam Dower, like many of the other prospects on this list, has spent his career playing behind an established starter. In his case, Robert Sacre.
But unlike the rest of these players, Dower did manage to see the court during his first two years with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
He averaged 18.1 minutes per game and scored 8.3 points to go along with 3.7 rebounds per game.
Dower can shoot both from the post and from outside. He shot 40 percent from deep in his sophomore season as his confidence grew from beyond the arc.
Dower also thrived against good competition, as evidenced by his 20-point, 10-rebound game against the Xavier Musketeers and his nine-point, six-rebound performance in just 18 minutes against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
In his first two seasons, Dower spent time learning in practice, but also got game experience. He should be fully prepared to take on a starring role in the paint for Gonzaga.
No one can replace Draymond Green for the Michigan State Spartans, but if there is one candidate on the roster it is Branden Dawson.
Dawson is in the mold of Green in that he is slightly undersized but loves to battle underneath. He averaged 4.5 rebounds per game last season and used his strength to battle past stronger guards for rebounds.
Dawson had become a reliable part of Michigan State’s lineup before tearing his ACL in early March.
He scored 15 points to go along with 11 rebounds in a win over the Purdue Boilermakers and also had five straight games with double-digit points.
After spending a full season under Tom Izzo’s tutelage, there is no reason to think that Dawson cannot have a breakout sophomore season.
The Spartans will need Dawson’s athleticism and strength and he will be counted on to be a presence inside and out.
If Andre Roberson were playing at a more well-known college basketball program, he would be soaring up draft boards.
Instead, Roberson is on track to have a ridiculous year for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Roberson is an athletic freak of nature who averaged 11.6 points and 11.1 rebounds in his sophomore year.
If Roberson uses the offseason to work on his ball-handling and improving his range, he will absolutely blow up next season.
In the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Roberson scored 12 points and pulled down 16 rebounds against the UNLV Rebels.
He has the tenacity and quickness to get past his defender and out-muscle bigger opponents for rebounds.
As a junior, Roberson will be counted on to lead the Buffaloes. Better believe he’s ready for it.
The latest in John Calipari’s lineage of point guards is flying well under the radar. Instead of an imposing 5-star freshman, Calipari is relying on a seasoned transfer to lead his team.
Harrow transferred from North Carolina State after his freshman season and spent a year with the Kentucky Wildcats learning the offense and going up against Marquis Teague.
He will be ready to contribute right away and eager to make an impact after sitting out a year.
Harrow is quick, just what Calipari likes in a point guard, and averaged just 1.8 turnovers per game in his freshman season. If Harrow can take care of the ball, he will already be an improvement over many of Kentucky’s freshman point guards.
In another weak draft for point guards, Harrow could shoot up draft boards if he is able to lead a Wildcats squad bursting at the seams with freshman.
Calipari is known for developing point guards and Harrow seems eager to be next on his list.
Towards the end of his freshman season, Otto Porter seemed to finally figure it out.
He had been uneven for most of the season, shooting very little and deferring to the Georgetown Hoyas’ two star big men.
But at the end of his freshman campaign, Porter began to realize that when he could score and rebound as well, the Hoyas were a much better basketball team.
Cue double-digit scoring outputs in five of his final seven games, as well as a 14-point, 13-rebound performance against the No. 2 Syracuse Orange late in the year.
Porter led Georgetown in rebounding and should be able to build on his success in his sophomore season.
With Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson gone, the middle will be wide open for Porter to start scoring more as well.
Coach John Thompson must be relieved that he has such a talented prospect to turn to after the departure of his veterans.
It is always surprising when a player transfers late in his college career, but sometimes, the move can be a good choice for everyone involved.
Rotnei Clarke excelled in his time with the Arkansas Razorbacks, averaging over 15 points per game in his sophomore and junior seasons.
But something was missing.
Clarke may have found the perfect fit with the Butler Bulldogs.
Coach Brad Stevens has proven that he can take a mid-major team all the way and develop his players as well.
But this past year, the one thing that was readily obvious about the Bulldogs was that they lacked any kind of offensive punch.
With a reputation of being able to score from anywhere on the court (he shot 44 percent from three his junior year), Clarke will provide a much-needed punch to Butler’s game.
And if the Bulldogs find themselves back atop the Horizon League standings, Clarke might have given his draft stock the boost it needed to make him a first-round pick.