Top Mid-Major Prospects for the 2013 NBA Draft
This year, we saw five players from mid-major schools get drafted.
Most notable was Damian Lillard of Weber State, the only mid-major player to get drafted in the first round. In fact, Lillard was drafted with the sixth pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Other mid-major draft picks included Orlando Johnson of UC Santa Barbara, Kevin Murphy of Tennessee Tech, Kyle O'Quinn of Norfolk State and Robert Sacre of Gonzaga.
Now, we turn our attention to who will be the next set of mid-major draft picks in 2013.
Here are six players that have the best chance among mid-major players of being drafted next year.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
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2011-12 Stats: 21.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 6 assists per game
Nate Wolters remains somewhat of a secret despite leading South Dakota State to the NCAA tournament last season. His performance against No. 3 seed Baylor was good but far from outstanding, leaving him out of most hype.
But what most college basketball fans don't know is that Wolters was one of the best all-around players in the 2011-12 season. He was the only player in Division I to average more than 20 points per game, five rebounds per game and five assists per game.
Wolters is a natural point guard with great court vision, but at 6'4", he has the size to also play shooting guard at the next level.
The one area where he must improve during his senior season is his three-point shooting. Wolters shot 36.4 percent as a freshman and 40.8 percent as a sophomore, but last year his long-range numbers dropped to 24.1 percent.
Wolters has the size to be a good combo guard, but he still has to develop more of the skill set.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
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2011-12 Stats: 19.2 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game
Isaiah Canaan thought about declaring for the 2012 NBA draft this spring, but said in an Associated Press article (via ESPN) that he chose to come back to school because he could end up falling into the second round. With another year under his belt, Canaan will most likely be a first-round pick, and possibly even a late lottery pick.
Canaan was the No. 2 scorer in the Ohio Valley last year with 19.2 points per game, and he was also one of the nation's better sharpshooters at 45.6 percent from long range.
Canaan is also a proven winner. All three years that he has spent at Murray State have been successful. As a freshman, the Racers went to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
As a sophomore, they went to the NIT but lost in the first round to Missouri State.
And last year, they went 31-2 with an appearance in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
He also developed more as a distributor, averaging close to four assists per game, but he will have to improve in this area more in order to make it in the NBA.
Canaan is only 6'0", so he will most likely not be put in the 2 spot at the next level. At his height, he will need to be able to play as a combo-guard.
Doug McDermott, Creighton
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2011-12 Stats: 23.2 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 49.5 3P%
Doug McDermott immediately emerged as a big-time player as a freshman at Creighton in 2010-11. That season, he averaged 14.9 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game.
This past season, McDermott continued to improve and ended up finishing No. 3 in the nation in scoring with 23.2 points per game (No. 1 in the MVC).
In his conference, McDermott was also No. 2 in rebounding, No. 2 in three-point field goal percentage and No. 3 in field-goal percentage at 61 percent.
And for those who think McDermott's numbers are so good only because he plays at a mid-major school, note that he scored 25 points and nine rebounds against Iowa, 25 points and 12 rebounds against San Diego State, 27 points against Northwestern, 36 points and 11 rebounds against Long Beach State and 20 points and nine rebounds against North Carolina.
There was a lot of speculation that he would bolt for the draft this year, but he chose to return for his junior year. Whether or not he becomes a NBA draft pick next year or after his senior season remains to be seen.
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
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2011-12 Stats: 21.9 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 2.6 steals per game
C.J. McCollum is already the best player in Lehigh basketball history.
He has scored 2,074 points over three seasons and will almost definitely pass Lehigh all-time leading scorer Daren Queenan's 2,703 career points, barring a major and unexpected drop off in his production or an injury.
By now, McCollum is no longer the best-kept secret of Bethlehem, PA.
He led the Mountain Hawks to a Patriot League tournament championship and NCAA tournament berth, and then, against all odds, he led them to a monumental upset over No. 2 seed Duke in the Big Dance with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists.
McCollum will have what it takes to compete in the NBA.
He is already a proven scorer and defender, and he showed his ability to be a distributor this past season with 3.5 assists per game.
Also, despite being a 6'3" guard, he was the second-best rebounder in his conference this season.
Tony Mitchell, North Texas
2011-12 Stats: 14.7 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, 3 blocks per game
Tony Mitchell originally committed to Missouri, which is why he ended needed to sit out half of last season.
But once he got in the mix with the Mean Green, he quickly became a mid-major sensation. In some ways, he became the Anthony Davis of mid-majors last season with his athleticism and intriguing defensive skills.
He averaged a double-double and led his conference in rebounding and blocks. Despite playing only half a season, he was in the mix for the Sun Belt Player of the Year honors. (LaRon Dendy of Middle Tennessee ended up taking home the award.)
Mitchell is an amazing athlete that can have his way inside and also step out and hit some jumpers. Although he only attempted 41 three-pointers last season, he made 43.9 percent of them.
And here is a video showing off his defensive prowess during the Sun Belt conference tournament.
At 6'8", he can play either small forward or power forward, and he is expected to make the jump to the NBA next June.
De'Mon Brooks, Davidson
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2011-12 Stats: 16 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game
What stands out most about De'Mon Brooks is his ability to play both inside and out. He was able to play the role of a big man this past season, averaging 6.3 rebounds, but he also showed that he can step out and make an occasional three-pointer by shooting 21-of-57 from long range.
The 6'7" forward is very versatile, and that is why he was able to win SoCon Player of the Year this past season despite being only a sophomore.
He will be a coveted prospect when next June rolls around, but there is also a fair chance that he stays in school for his senior year, which would put him in the 2014 NBA draft pool.
Either way, he is a player that will soon be on many people's radars.