NBA Draft 2012 Results: 6 Most Compelling Human Interest Stories in Draft Class

Peter OwenCorrespondent IIJune 30, 2012

NBA Draft 2012 Results: 6 Most Compelling Human Interest Stories in Draft Class

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    Another NBA draft is in the books and the latest crop of fresh young talent is now counting down the days until they finally make their debuts later this year.

    Every draft has its touching stories and interesting plots that develop as the night goes on. This year, there was no shortage.

    We saw records for most picks from one school and most freshmen in the top 10, and we even watched an Iraq War veteran picked early in the second round.

No. 6: Bernard James, Iraq War Veteran, Picked 34th by Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Bernard James from Florida State University was taken well after the big names were gone, but his story is perhaps the most remarkable and fairytale-like of the draft.

    James was a senior at Florida State this past year, manning the center position with a tough attitude that belies his military service.

    James served five years with the United States Air Force, including three tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. Now, he gets to shut down the airspace of the paint on the biggest stages in basketball.

    Well deserved for a selfless hero.

    When James was picked, an announcement let the crowd know about his military history and an apt chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" filled the arena.

No. 5: Thomas Robinson Overcomes Personal Tragedy

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    Thomas Robinson has had a hard life.

    His mother moved him out of their crime-ridden Washington neighborhood to give her son a fighting chance at a decent life. He finally found a permanent place at a New Hampshire boarding school.

    After heading to Kansas for college, Robinson spent time on the bench before eventually breaking into the starting lineup this season. He was the first-ever unanimous Associated Press All-American since Blake Griffin in 2009.

    Tragedy seems to follow Robinson wherever he goes.

    During his sophomore season, Robinson lost his grandmother, grandfather and mother in the space of a month. His 37-year-old mother died just five days after his grandfather.

    Those losses along with a tough upbringing are what shapes Robinson's on-court demeanor, one which attracted plenty of praise in the run-up to the draft.

No. 4: Thomas Robinson: As Good as Anthony Davis?

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    Thomas Robinson was the sexy pick of the 2012 draft who ended up with the Sacramento Kings at number five overall, creating an intriguing front-court pairing with DeMarcus Cousins.

    After Davis was photographed wearing a "Check my stats" t-shirt a while before the draft, Robinson came out firing (via Sports Illustrated, h/t opposingviews.com) stating that:

    If you wanted to check the stats, then I’d be the No. 1 pick easily — if that’s what you want to do. I should get one of those shirts. I’ll get a shirt that says, ‘Numbers don’t lie.'

    Robinson does have a point as he averaged more points per game (17.7) and rebounds per game (11.9) than Davis (14.2 and 10.4) over his college career.

    Other than that, Davis is better at blocking, has better range, is longer and has far more upside.

    The beginnings of a great rivalry?

No. 3: Jared Sullinger's Back Problems

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    Jared Sullinger sunk like the Titanic through the draft all the way to the Boston Celtics at No. 24 after teams got scared of his potentially career-shortening back problems.

    For casual fans, watching a young guy whose whole life has been dedicated to making it to the top of his game slide down and down as teams don't want to risk their picks is tough.

    Sullinger is a terrific player with a big red flag hanging over him. Many would feel bad for him if his career is seriously affected by injury after all the hard work he has put in to get himself to the big stage of basketball.

No. 2: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Shows Character Counts

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    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was drafted second overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Bradley Beal may have gone second. Thomas Robinson could have gone too, but instead the 'Cats opted for MKG, making Kentucky the first-ever school to have two of its products taken first and second in a draft.

    Kidd-Gilchrist is a talented player, though Beal and Robinson are equals. What sets him apart and what makes him an intriguing prospect is his work ethic.

    There are too many NBA players today too busy enjoying the lifestyle to focus hard enough on playing. It's nice to see a player who really made his name in college on the back of hustle, energy, heart and teamwork.

    All of this is what the Bobcats need, not a young guy coming in with an ego expecting to lead the team. MKG will fit in well in North Carolina.

No. 1: Anthony Davis: Can He Live Up to the Hype?

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    Anthony Davis, like any number one pick in any draft, has a lot of hype surrounding him.

    Davis, unlike most though, has been compared to Kevin Garnett among other all-time great big men.

    That's a big comparison to make for a young, impressionable guy yet to play a single minute of NBA basketball. Garnett is on a fast track to the Hall of Fame.

    I'm not saying Davis won't match that, he certainly has the potential to do so, but to place that much weight on the shoulders of a young man will make his rookie season that much more enthralling.