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2012 NBA Draft: 5 High School Players Who Would Have Changed the First Round

Greg SwartzCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJanuary 7, 2017

2012 NBA Draft: 5 High School Players Who Would Have Changed the First Round

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    In 2005, the NBA passed a rule stating that all players wanting to enter the draft must be at least 19 years of age and one year out of high school.

    This ended a period of about 30 years where high school graduates could move to the NBA after graduation at will, beginning with Moses Malone in 1974.

    Throughout the '90s and into the early 2000s, this became more and more common as future stars like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Amar'e Stoudemire, LeBron James and Dwight Howard all decided to pass on college and say hello to the pros.

    Growing tired of high school games being flooded with scouts, the NBA passed the current rule, which has seen its share of pros and cons.

    For one, the college game has greatly improved, as stars like Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes and Austin Rivers would have likely forgone their college experience.

    The disadvantage, though, is that fans of the NBA and their teams must wait an extra year to see tomorrow's stars in action.

    So which high school players would have made the jump this year? Who are some of the nation's best prep stars who would have been sure-fire first-rounders in this year's draft?

    Here are five of the best.

5. Archie Goodwin, SG

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    2013 NBA Draft Projection: Ninth overall

    Committed to: Kentucky

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 185 pounds

    High School Senior Stats Per Game: 25 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 2.2 assists

    The first of a handful of Kentucky recruits on this list, Goodwin is a 5-star high school prospect out of Little Rock, Ark.

    He's an attack-first shooting guard who plays an aggressive style of game. He's good on the defensive side of the ball as well. Goodwin should thrive in Lexington, taking over Doron Lamb's spot.

4. Alex Poythress, SF

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    2013 NBA Draft Projection: Seventh overall

    Committed to: Kentucky

    Height/Weight: 6'8", 215 pounds

    High School Senior Stats Per Game: 28.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 4.3 blocks 

    A combo forward, Poythress was the 2012 Tennessee Player of the Year for Northeast High School in Clarksville, Tenn.

    Able to play inside and out, Poythress is probably best suited for a small forward role, as he has three-point range and is an excellent finisher at the rim.

    With a 7'1" wingspan, he remains an intriguing option on the defensive end as well and should be one-and-done at Kentucky.

3. Isaiah Austin, C

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    2013 NBA Draft Projection: Sixth overall

    Committed to: Baylor

    Height/Weight: 7'0", 215 pounds

    High School Senior Stats Per Game: 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks

    Austin is the latest gem in a recruiting surge for the Baylor Bears the last couple years.

    A true seven-footer, Austin is a bit of a project right now but has good ball-handling skills and a soft touch for a player his size.

    Austin will have to add about 20 to 30 pounds of muscle to his frame to not get pushed around in the pros, but his skill set would have been worth a lottery pick in this year's draft.

2. Shabazz Muhammad, SG

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    2013 NBA Draft Projection: Second overall

    Committed to: UCLA

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 220 pounds

    High School Senior Stats Per Game: 30.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals

    With no offense to Bradley Beal, Muhammad may very well be the best shooting guard in the 2012 and 2013 draft classes combined.

    Part of a monster recruiting class for UCLA, Shabazz is also a talented defender and rebounder and should have the Bruins in contention for a Final Four berth as a freshman.

    Able to score anywhere on the court, often with a smooth left-hand finish, Muhammad could very well be 2013's first overall pick.

1. Nerlens Noel, C

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    2013 NBA Draft Projection: First overall

    Committed to: Kentucky

    Height/Weight: 6'11", 215 pounds

    High School Senior Stats Per Game: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 7.5 blocks

    A tall, lanky center holding down the paint for Kentucky while swatting away a ridiculous number of shots?

    Hmm, this sounds all too familiar.

    Noel is the perfect replacement for Anthony Davis at Kentucky and someone who Davis seems to like.

    "A great shot blocker," said Davis, who set a Southeastern Conference record with 186 blocks this past season. "I think he's better than me."

    The similarities may not end there, as Davis will be the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and Noel is the projected No. 1 pick for 2013.

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