NBA Draft 2012: College Stars Worthy of a First-Round Pick

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 22:  Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans shoots over Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Semifinal game at US Airways Center on March 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NBA draft is littered with early entries that weren’t on the radar until this past season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t proven stars available.

I’m talking about the players college basketball fans have been accustomed to seeing for the last few years. Players that have big-time experience in pressure situations, that aren’t going to be drafted based on the word “potential.”

While the pre-draft camps and workouts will obviously change things, for now, here are three recognizable names that are worthy of being selected among the top 30 picks in the 2012 draft.


Draymond Green, F, Michigan State

When you are 6’7’’ and average over 10 rebounds in the collegiate ranks, you are a rare talent. Tom Izzo taught him well.

Green has the ability to be a standout contributor right off the bat for a team who needs a shooting guard/small forward that can potentially be a strong slasher at the next level.

His senior leadership was a big reason the Spartans were such big overachievers this past season. The talent level wasn’t there, but Green came up with the big play seemingly every time his team needed it most.

Green may not have star potential, but there is no doubt he can be a strong contributor for a NBA team seeking championship hardware.


ALBUQUERQUE, NM - MARCH 15:  John Jenkins #23 of the Vanderbilt Commodores shoots against Christian Webster #15 of the Harvard Crimson in the second half of the game during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Pit on March
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

John Jenkins, G, Vanderbilt

The junior is the ultimate sharp-shooter.

He shot 305 three-pointers this past season, hitting them at a 44 percent clip. That’s a skill ready to translate at the NBA level instantly.

But that’s not the only thing the 6’4’’, 215-pounder can do. He is a strong finisher around the basket and plays aggressive defense that can frustrate smaller opponents.

Obviously his size isn’t something scouts are thrilled with, but his three-point shooting alone makes him worthy of a first-round pick.


Kevin Jones, PF, West Virginia

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15:  Kevin Jones #5 of the West Virginia Mountaineers shoots the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 15, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsyl
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Jones is a rebounder, plain and simple. He is incredibly aggressive on both sides of the glass and has outstanding instincts when the ball goes in the air. His reactionary and adjustment skills are off the charts.

He led the Big East and was fourth in the nation his senior year (11.1). Obviously at 6’8’’ and 250 pounds he’ll be undersized, but this scrappy hustler will certainly find his niche in the NBA.

You can’t teach hustle and heart.