The 2013 NBA draft class is growing by the day, as numerous underclassmen elect to forego another season of college in exchange for a shot at being selected.
For many, it’s a great decision. The 2014 class looks to be loaded with potential talent and a top-10 pick this year might fall out of the lottery if he waits a year.
We’re here to focus on the top underclassmen to have declared this spring and highlight where they just might wind up in June.
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
In his sophomore season, Burke guided the Wolverines to the national championship game, swept the major Player of the Year awards and improved his draft stock from possible first-round talent to a lottery lock.
Averaging 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds for the duration of the season certainly helped his personal status and the team’s success.
Unsurprisingly, the point guard isn’t going to return to Ann Arbor for a junior campaign.
At 6’1”, 175 pounds, Burke is a bit smaller than the prototypical PG teams are looking for (i.e. 6”4”, 225-pound Marcus Smart is the highest rated player at the position in 2013), but his body of work and winning ways are a good sign for his NBA career.
Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
For a long stretch during the 2012-13 campaign, McLemore was considered the top prospect in the draft.
However, his inconsistent play in the latter weeks of the regular season and through March Madness hurt the Jayhawk swingman’s stock, causing Nerlens Noel, Marcus Smart and other prospects to leap above him on many big boards.
Regardless of his tendency to disappear or make awful decisions, McLemore is making the right call to leave KU after his freshman season.
He’s widely regarded as the top bucket-getter in this class and he will come off the board in the first five picks to an organization that direly needs a franchise scorer.
When he’s on, this kid has unlimited range and an incredible feel for the game. It’s going to take time to hone that skill, but the risk is worth it with McLemore.
Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Unlike his brothers, Luke and Tyler, Cody Zeller will not be playing four years of college basketball. The big man has decided to leave Indiana after his sophomore campaign in order to test the waters in the NBA.
The seven-footer is likely going to find his way into the latter portions of the lottery, where a contending team that feels it is just a big away from competing should be willing to take a chance on Zeller.
His upside may not be through the roof like some of these other prospects, but the Hoosiers standout is immediately ready to contribute in the Association.
Whether he’s running the floor and efficiently scoring on the break or working for his buckets in the half-court set, Zeller is an asset—especially on the offensive end.
There will be a place for him at the next level, even if he’s not a starting superstar.