No-Brainer One-and-Done College Ballers
It's in a player's best interest to declare for the NBA draft when their stock is at its peak. A one-and-done prospect feels they have nothing to gain from a sophomore year...except skeptics they didn't originally have.
For some, selling yourself on potential is the way to go—give scouts just a taste without showing them the whole package.
A guy like Jared Sullinger might have cost himself dollars by returning for a sophomore year, where he showed minimal improvement and exposed himself to scouts.
For these one-and-done prospects, leaving after their freshman year will maximize their draft value.
Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
There's just nothing the college game has to offer Shabazz Muhammad.
He's physically ready to compete at the next level, and a year in college might only set him back.
Muhammad needs freedom to let him do what he does, and he's unlikely to get that at UCLA. The longer he stays, the longer scouts have to dissect his game and search for flaws.
With a first-pick overall ceiling in an underwhelming draft class, leaving after a year is a no-brainer.
Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Nerlens Noel is going to take a while. This isn't someone you can expect to compete for Rookie of the Year, but rather this is someone you can expect to contend for Most Improved Player in 2016.
Noel is one of those guys who gets drafted based on potential. With a weak draft class, potential could go a long way in terms of draft stock.
He entered the year as a projected top-five pick, and unless by some miracle he really turns scouts off, that's likely to remain the same by the time June rolls around.
Leaving early would prevent NBA personnel from growing frustrated with slow offensive development.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Sometimes players have to make a situational decision. There aren't many point guards in this year's draft. If Marcus Smart declares, he could potentially be the best one.
Smart is another guy who is physically NBA-ready. This guy has it all—size, skills and brains.
He's just more advanced than most college freshman, and he has the ability to adjust and adapt to his competition, which makes him an excellent candidate to contribute sooner rather than later at the pro level.
An extra year in college would be a waste of a year, especially with teammate LeBryan Nash likely to declare in 2013.
Smart may not have come in as a no-brainer one-and-done prospect, but after a blazing start, he is now.
Ben McLemore, Kansas
Ben McLemore is an example of an NBA player trapped in a college snow globe.
He's a clear-cut NBA athlete with the ideal build for a shooting guard. The physical transition process will be seamless.
The fact of the matter is, an NBA team could use McLemore's services tomorrow. He's a gap-filler—someone who can play alongside anybody without needing the ball and can defend, shoot and slash to the rim.
He'll be a solid NBA role-player because of his ability to be effective without using the dribble. If McLemore ever starts creating his own perimeter-offense, he has got big-time scoring potential.
Alex Poythress, Kentucky
Alex Poythress' stock has remained high despite showing little offensive creativity. He's scoring at the rim on finishes, put-backs and slashes, but not as a perimeter shot-creator.
That's unlikely to change with another year at Kentucky, which means there's probably nothing to gain by returning.
His stock was high entering the year, and he hasn't done anything to change that.
Alex Poythress should be in the top 10 and maybe even top-five consideration throughout the year. There's no reason to mess with that.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Willie Cauley-Stein might not be quite sure how to play basketball yet, but his body does.
He's a regular contributor because of his physical tools, which include a strong, 7'0'' build, long arms and a football player's agility.
He's learning the game as he goes: Cauley-Stein should sell his potential, enter the draft and learn it while working with the pros. He'll have less pressure, more individual direction and a better opportunity to go up against guys his size.
A sophomore year would likely just be a mirror image of his freshman one. He's a likely mid first-round pick either this year or the next—might as well start early.