NBA Draft 2012: The 8 Best Upperclassmen in the 2012 Draft
With the emergence of the "one-and-done" NCAA prospects who only wait one year to jump from college to the pros, upperclassmen are somewhat of a rarity in the NBA Draft nowadays.
There's something to be said for players who spend all four of their available years in college, but the allure of young potential is harder and harder for NBA teams to pass up on. Still, seniors often have easier transitions into the league thanks to their increased experience levels from college.
Take Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets. After spending four years at Morehead State, he was taken late in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Nuggets and emerged as one of the best rookies in his class.
This year's NBA Draft is no exception to the rule. There is only one upperclassmen who might go in the lottery selections, but there are a good handful of talented seniors who will inevitably make a nice impact in the league.
Let's take a look at the eight best upperclassmen in the 2012 Draft.
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School: North Carolina
Vitals: 7'0", 250 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 55.5 percent shooting
Zelller is the only senior with a chance to go in the first 14 picks come June 28th. He's a very smart player with an exceptional skill set and comes with proven experience.
He's not a great vertical athlete, but he's one of the quicker big men you'll see in the open court. He possesses a finesse touch around the basket and has a solid jumpshot that should make him a dual threat offensively. Defensively, he's limited by his athleticism, but the effort is there.
With his experience and high basketball IQ, he won't ever be a superstar, but he'll be a very solid big man for years to come.
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Vitals: 6'7", 225 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 49.9 percent shooting
Taylor is one of the more athletic wing players in the draft and also has an excellent shooting touch. He may not have the high ceiling that Bradley Beal or Jeremy Lamb possess, but he's a smart player and one of the more NBA-ready wings in the draft. He'll likely go anywhere between No. 20 and No. 30 on draft night.
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School: Michigan State
Vitals: 6'7", 230 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 44.9 percent shooting
Green was an exceptional team leader in his time at Michigan State, and would be a much higher selection if he had a set NBA position. With an strong jump shot and good post moves, he can score from most anywhere on the court and is a very hard defensive worker.
He had a triple double in the first round of the NCAA tournament, finishing with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He'll be a great role player for any team, and he'll likely go in the late first round.
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School: St. Bonaventure
Vitals: 6'9", 240 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 57.1 percent shooting
Nicholson is stuck in a draft full of talented big men, but he'll be an strong selection who will likely go in the early to mid 20s. He put himself on the NBA map thanks to an excellent last few months of his college career at St. Bonaventure. He's got an good set of post moves, both with his back to the basket and facing it up. His defense and rebounding are both solid as well, but he's just a bit shorter than you'd like him to be.
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Vitals: 6'8", 225 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 47.4 percent shooting
The under-appreciated glue guy of Kentucky's NCAA championship, Darius is an all round talented player. He was held back a bit with the Wildcats' deep roster, but he'll fair well in the NBA thanks to his above-average jumper and tough defensive approach.
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Vitals: 6'6", 235 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.5 steals, 49.8 percent shooting
Crowder was the heart and soul of a incredibly tough Marquette squad, and while he's a bit shorter than you'd like for a NBA small forward, he's a great on ball defender and an all-around talented scorer.
With his strong work ethic and strong defense, he should have no trouble being a mid-second round pick.
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Vitals: 6'3", 185 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 4.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 3.5 turnovers, 47.7 percent shooting
The college king of the "Oh, no no no.... yes!" shot, Taylor's electric playing style was both exciting and terrifying to watch for Jayhawks fans.
He's an all-around talented point guard, and should go early in the second round. He needs to really work on his handles before he can become a solid NBA guard.
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School: West Virginia
Vitals: 6'7", 260 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 50.9 percent shooting
Jones spent all four years at West Virginia and proved he was a capable leader. He's a strong bruiser in the paint and has an excellent motor and work ethic. He doesn't have a set NBA position and is limited athletically, but expect to see him selected early in the second round.