The final and official deadline for early entry in this year's NBA draft is April 28. To date, according to CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman, 36 underclassmen have entered the draft early.
The following is a look at the current status of some of the top players who are still considering entering the 2013 draft before it's too late.
Cory Jefferson finally reaped what he had been sowing since he arrived on campus in Waco four years ago.
During the regular season, Jefferson (as a redshirt junior) averaged 13.3 points and eight rebounds, and the 6’9” forward showed signs of becoming the force that Bear’s head coach Scott Drew hoped he’d be when he signed him in 2009. He elevated his game even further during Baylor’s run to winning this year’s NIT by averaging 21 points and six rebounds.
Even with an excellent postseason, WacoTrib.com's John Werner points out that “A mock draft by CBSSports.com had Jefferson going 40th three weeks ago, but some recent mock drafts don’t include him at all.”
Though Jefferson is developing all of the basketball skills and instincts necessary to eventually succeed at the next level, he (and Baylor) would benefit greatly if he returned for his final year of eligibility. He could be one of if not the best big man in the Big 12 if he came back for his senior season.
C.J. Fair led Syracuse in both scoring (14.5) and rebounding (7.0) as a junior, positioning himself for some serious draft consideration.
He has elevated his game every year, adding to his skill set to where he can be considered a genuine combo forward. While he has not been a frequent three-point shooter, Fair connected on 46.9 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
However, Fair is still be on the outside looking in for the 2013 NBA draft. ESPN’s Chad Ford currently has him listed as No. 73 on his “Top 100 Draft Prospects” (subscription required). CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman does not include him in his 2012-13 NBA Mock Draft. Fair is not listed in NBADraft.net Mock Draft either.
If he is wise, Fair has will come back for his senior year and show NBA scouts and GMs what he can really do. As Syracuse shifts to the ACC, he will have the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents if he can lead the Orange to the upper tier of their new conference.
Adreian Payne played his way into a place of reasonable NBA draft consideration during the 2012-13 season. He went from being a part-time role player as a sophomore to a consistent interior force for the Spartans as a junior. This year, the 6’10 225 pounds PF even displayed a nice touch (38.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
Michigan State head coach believes in Payne, as MLive.com’s Diamond Leung writes:
Izzo said he envisioned Payne would play both power forward and small forward if he returned for his senior year and could be headed for greatness at Michigan State while getting another chance to reach the Final Four.
"If he makes the same steps he made from his sophomore to his junior year and stays healthy, that kid's got a chance to be hanging his own banner in the building," Izzo said.
If he does enter this year's draft, Payne would most likely be a early second-round pick.
Payne is the last of his MSU teammates to announce their draft determination. USA TODAY Sports’ Joe Rexrode reported that Spartan guard Gary Harris has decided to return to East Lansing for his sophomore year.
Andre Roberson has given no further indication of whether or not he will enter the 2013 NBA draft.
The consensus among NBA scouts and the media that has covered Roberson while he has played at CU is that he is definitely not a first-round pick and may not even be assured to be selected in the second round.
No one denies that he is an exceptional defender and a beast on the boards. Roberson led the Pac 12 in rebounding in both his sophomore and junior years. It is his sub-standard shooting ability that minimizes those shining qualities and accomplishments. This past season, he shot an icy 55.1 percent from the free throw line.
If you are 6’11” and weigh in at 270 pounds, those shooting numbers work. But if you are 6’7” and 210 pounds, as Roberson is, that level of inaccuracy almost removes a player from legitimate consideration.
Shane Larkin was the key player in Miami’s breakout 2012-13 season. The sophomore point guard led the Canes to their first-ever ACC regular season and postseason tournament championships.
He was not only Miami’s top scorer and assists leader, but he was also named as a second team all-american. In terms of other individual awards, Larkin was named as the 2013 Lute Olson National Player of the Year.
Through his public comments, Larkin has not given much indication about which direction he’s leaning about his draft-entry decision. He’s played things pretty close to the vest. The Sun Sentinel’s Michael Casagrande relayed that Miami “school officials expect to make an announcement April 28 on the NBA's deadline for submitting for the draft.”
While Larkin may not make his final choice based on this, Miami is already losing almost all of their top scorers from last season. If Larkin departs also, head coach Jim Larranaga will be in full-fledged rebuilding mode.
Russ Smith’s recent comments clearly indicate that the 2013 national champions’ top scorer remains undecided concerning his plans about entering the NBA draft. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Smith said in an interview after the team was honored by the U of L board of trustees, “I’m leaning the same way towards leaving and staying, it’s almost the same.”
Smith is a classic example of a player who has excelled in college but is facing a position change in terms of the NBA. At 6’1” and 165 pounds, he is being evaluated as a point guard, even though he has played off the ball at Louisville.
The Courier-Journal’s Tim Sullivan remarked that “Smith is not a sure-fire first-round draft choice, and the difference between first-round and second-round status is the difference between instant wealth and prolonged uncertainty.”
Isaiah Austin is one of the most puzzling players who possibly could still enter the 2013 NBA draft early. He has a unique skill set for a player of his size (7’1”, 220 pounds). He has the mobility and dexterity of a small forward but the length to go inside and wreak havoc. And yet, for most of his uneven freshman season in Waco, he put up very ordinary numbers.
Austin helped his prospects in this year’s NIT. In the championship game against Iowa, he stuffed the stat sheet by scoring 15 points, grabbing nine rebounds, blocking five shots, dishing out four assists and nabbing two steals. Impressive.
While ESPN’s Chad Ford still has Austin as a late first-round pick, CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman lists him as No. 11 overall in his mock draft. While Austin still needs to add strength and bulk, don’t be surprised if some team in the first eight to 10 picks rolls the dice on this distinctive player with massive potential.
As a sophomore, Doug McDermott was the first men’s basketball player in Creighton history to be named as an AP first team All-American. This past season, he did it again, which gave him the honor of being the 51st player in Division 1 history to be selected in consecutive years.
McDermott’s game is a unique blend of long-distance shooting accuracy (he shot 49 percent from beyond the arc this year) and old-school post play proficiency.
One of McDermott's challenges in terms of his draft standing is how people perceive his game differently as far as translating to the next level.
Even though McDermott has been one of the top scorers in college hoops the last two seasons, ESPN.com’s Chad Ford lists him as No. 50 on his Top 100 Draft Prospects list. But CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman projects him being the last player selected in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft.
ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that McDermott “is nowhere near close to making a decision on whether to declare for the NBA or return to the Bluejays, his father and coach Greg McDermott said. Greg McDermott said Doug will take this call down to the NBA's April 28 deadline.”
If McDermott does return, he will have a new challenge to conquer. Creighton will be switching from the Missouri Valley Conference to the new Big East. If McDermott comes back for his senior season and dominates his new league’s opponents, he just may finally get the respect he already deserves.