NBA fans should start focusing on college players at this time of the year, as their decisions will make a big impact on the next professional season.
Underclassmen have until April 28 to declare for the 2013 NBA draft (via NBA.com). However, many college stars have already publicly stated that they will end their collegiate careers early.
Most recently, top prospect Nerlens Noel announced on the University of Kentucky website that he will leave after one year at the school. There was some debate whether he would return to school after tearing his ACL during the season, but it is now clear that he will move on to the NBA.
This decision affects the entire draft, as he is projected to be one of the top players selected. Here is an updated mock draft following Monday's news.
Note: Full breakdown of trades can be found at ProSportsTransactions.com.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Despite the fact that he missed the last month of the season to a knee injury, Nerlens Noel has enough pure talent to be selected with the top overall pick.
Charlotte needs help pretty much everywhere on the floor after another terrible season. While the squad has some scorers, the frontcourt is miserable.
Noel will help improve the defense immediately with his ability to block shots and bring down rebounds. Eventually, he will also be able to contribute on the offensive end once he develops more technique.
The Bobcats can afford to let the center be brought along slowly over the next year or more.
2. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Magic have some solid young players in the frontcourt, but they need a point guard to bring it all together. Marcus Smart is a bit inconsistent, but his size and athleticism will allow him to succeed at the next level.
If he can become a better shooter, Smart could be an All-Star in a few years.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Cleveland has been slowly solidifying its starting lineup through the draft, but it still needs a lot of help at small forward.
Otto Porter would be the perfect match for this team as someone who can fill up almost every category on the box score. He can score if he needs to, but he also helped out in other areas and is an excellent defender.
Although he will not transform the team in one year, there is little doubt the squad will be improved right away.
4. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
Ben McLemore has the talent to be the top overall pick and could end up there based on team need. As it stands now, however, he should fall to the Phoenix Suns at No. 4.
Still, he is a great scorer who can get points either at the rim or shooting from deep, and he will make a big difference on one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA.
5. New Orleans Hornets: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
Eric Gordon has not lived up to expectations with the Hornets so far. He is almost always injured and is incredibly inefficient when he is on the court.
Although Gordon is unlikely to go anywhere, grabbing Victor Oladipo would give the team some options as a smart player who is also the best on-ball defender in the class.
The Indiana star could also play wing if needed, which would give the Hornets more production offensively.
6. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Trey Burke is a bit undersized for a point guard at 6'0", but anyone who watched him during the NCAA tournament should want him on their favorite team.
The point guard simply does everything necessary to help his team win and has the ability to be a star at the next level.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
In last year's draft, the Kings drafted power forward Thomas Robinson with the No. 5 pick, but they already sent him away at the trade deadline.
Anthony Bennett will be a second chance as someone who is versatile enough to play small forward also if needed. With his great athleticism and shooting ability, he should be able to stick around for at least longer than the last pick.
8. Washington Wizards: Alex Len, C, Maryland
It is clear that the Wizards are set in the backcourt for the near future with John Wall and Bradley Beal, but they need a lot of help up front.
This would be a good opportunity for the team to go local and select Maryland's Alex Len to solve the needs at center.
Len did not always put up great stats in college, but the 7'1" player has good athleticism and has shown the potential to be an elite offensive threat in the NBA.
Although it might take some time for the Ukrainian to reach his expectations, it is worth the risk for Washington.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
While Shabazz Muhammad has dropped down boards in recent weeks, he still has plenty of ability as a pure scorer that will translate to the next level.
Minnesota's biggest need is simply someone who can put points on the board on a consistent basis. If you give Muhammad the opportunity, he will be able to do that for any NBA team.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto Raptors): Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Allowing one of the best teams in the NBA to draft in the lottery is almost unfair for the rest of the league. Still, the Thunder have this opportunity to improve and will be able to by drafting Cody Zeller.
The center has a polished game for his age and his ability to run the floor will be perfect for the fast-paced attack in Oklahoma City.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Mason Plumlee, C, Duke
Injuries prevented Andrew Bynum from suiting up in Philadelphia this year. As a result, the team needs someone ready to perform in the low post immediately.
Mason Plumlee is an excellent rebounder and has good post moves that will allow him to contribute right away. As long as he is not asked to make shots from outside of five feet, he will be just fine.
12. Portland Trail Blazers: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Glenn Robinson III was never the star on Michigan, but at times the freshman showed his incredible potential.
With great athleticism to go with solid shooting and a high basketball IQ, the small forward can end up being a big part of an NBA team in the future.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Dallas will not be able to succeed until it gets a better point guard to lead the offense. This is where Michael Carter-Williams comes in.
The Syracuse star is 6'6" and uses his height to get into the lane and either make a play himself or find teammates for an open shot. He will be able to continue to do this in the NBA, as he will still be one of the biggest players at his position.
14. Utah Jazz: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Randy Foye performed well during the year as the primary shooting guard for the Jazz, but Gary Harris would start right away if he were taken in the first round.
The Michigan State freshman was rarely the focal point of the offense on a veteran team. However, he still had a few huge games where he was able to show off his scoring ability and athleticism.
Of course, Harris can be even better next season if he returns to school to get some more seasoning. At that point, do not be surprised if he becomes one of the top players selected in the entire 2014 drat.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Few players in this class can contribute on the offensive end as much as Kelly Olynyk. The big man can score with his back to the basket, he can slash to the rim and finish with a dunk or he can shoot from the outside.
This will help create some balance for a squad that is lucky to reach the playoffs this season.
16. Boston Celtics: Rudy Gobert, PF, France
It is time for the Celtics to start thinking about the best long-term decisions to help the organization. With that in mind, Rudy Gobert would be a smart selection as someone who could really help the team in a few years.
Gobert is 7'1" with a 7'9" wingspan and has as much upside as anyone in the class. This might be worth the risk for a team no longer in contention for titles with the current roster.
17. Chicago Bulls: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
Next season, Chicago should be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference behind a healthy Derrick Rose. In order to compete, the Bulls will need a top shooting guard to play alongside the former MVP.
Although C.J. McCollum missed most of the season, he is an excellent shooter and should be able to do his job as a scorer on this strong defensive team.
18. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
After drafting Otto Porter with the first pick, the Cavaliers grab a high-energy guy in Mitch McGary with the second selection in the first round.
McGary exploded in the NCAA tournament after a mediocre regular season, and he proved to scouts that he will be a big-time rebounder and finisher at the next level.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
If you want a volume scorer who can get points in bunches, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is your guy. He could provide the Hawks with perimeter help whether Josh Smith stays in Atlanta or not.
20. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors): Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas
The 2012-13 season did not go according to plan for Tony Mitchell, who only averaged only 13 points per game on a terrible North Texas team.
Still, his explosiveness and rebounding ability are enough to intrigue general managers drafting toward the end of the first round. Utah should be one of those teams interested with a need to improve on both ends of the court.
21. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets): Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor
Isaiah Austin was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school, and the potential that gave him that distinction should allow him to be drafted in the first round.
There are not too many players listed at 7'0" with great jumping ability who can also shoot threes. The upside will be too much for Atlanta to pass up.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Brooklyn is basically set as every starting position. However, this team will not make a leap to legitimate title contender until it gets more depth in the frontcourt.
Adding Jeff Withey in the first round will provide that right away, as he is someone who can enter an NBA rotation from Day 1.
Withey finished the regular season ranked third in the nation with an average of 3.8 blocks per game as one of the best interior defenders in the country.
His ceiling might not be as high as others selected earlier in the draft, but he is one of the safest prospects you will find in the class.
23. Indiana Pacers: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Jamaal Franklin has good versatility as someone who can play either shooting guard or small forward at the next level. He is a solid scorer who can also rebound and pass the ball with consistency.
His poor shooting should be a concern, but he will still be able to contribute in various ways in the NBA.
24. New York Knicks: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
One thing the Knicks could use is more depth up front, especially considering the age and injury history of the players currently on the roster.
Gorgui Dieng is old for his class at 23 years old and he is advanced enough on both ends of the court to enter the rotation immediately for the Knicks.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies): Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Minnesota has never hesitated to draft international players in the past, and it is unlikely to start now. Dario Saric is very young, but he fits perfectly on the Timberwolves as a skilled player who can handle the ball and pass it extremely well for his size at 6'10".
Even though he and Muhammad are both listed as small forwards, these are very different players who could easily co-exist in a lineup in the future.
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
Allen Crabbe has been very difficult to defend throughout his career at California. He is a tremendous shooter who can score from almost anywhere on the floor.
On Los Angeles, he could provide the team with yet another option off the bench while also getting younger.
27. Denver Nuggets: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Steven Adams is incredibly raw on the offensive side of the court, and it might have been a mistake to enter the draft after his freshman year.
He is a coordinated seven-footer, but he rarely created his own shot and only averaged 7.2 points per game.
Fortunately, Denver is incredibly deep and does not have a major need at any spot. The Nuggets could draft him at this point and bring him along slowly until he is ready to contribute in the rotation.
This would be the best-case scenario for Adams to make sure he is not rushed into action too soon.
28. San Antonio Spurs: James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina
San Antonio continually grabs players with high upside toward the end of the first round and turns them into starters.
James Michael McAdoo might have been one of the top picks in last year's draft, but he struggled this season as he tried to get by on athleticism alone. However, learning from Tim Duncan in the frontcourt will certainly allow him to get the most out of his ability.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
Whether he admits it or not, the reason that Archie Goodwin declared for the draft was because he was not going to get much playing time next season at Kentucky.
Regardless, the potential to be a star is there with his ability to get to the basket with ease. He could be a good bench player right away for Oklahoma City as someone who can put up points in a hurry.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami Heat): C.J. Leslie, PF, North Carolina State
C.J. Leslie is very skilled for a big man, as he can handle the ball well and has good body control around the basket.
Phoenix needs help on most of the roster, and this is the best player the team will find at this late stage in the first round.