Talented College Hoops Players Better Off Staying One More Year to Earn Stock

James Gray IICorrespondent IApril 28, 2009

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 22:  DeJuan Blair #45 of the Pittsburgh Panthers reacts between plays against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the University of Dayton Arena on March 22, 2009 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For most college basketball players, it is a dream for them to hear their names called at Madison Square Garden during the NBA Draft so they can finally show off their skills against the greatest players in the world. 

Each have their own reasons for adding their names to the draft, but here are a few great players that need another season to better their chances of earning a spot in the National Basketball Association.


DeJuan Blair PF, Sophomore, Pittsburgh

We all know what this freak can do in the paint, and many are probably wondering why he is on the list.

After averaging a double-double for the season, owning UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet during the regular season, and playing a major role in Pitt’s No. 1 ranking for much of the season, Blair has plenty on his résumé to earn him a first round pick, if not a late lottery pick. 

With all that said, I think if Blair decides to stay in school, Pitt turns into a serious contender to win it all next season. Not to mention he will be able to work on his perimeter game and possibly lose a few pounds, which will almost guarantee him a lottery spot in 2010.


Nick Calathes G, Junior, Florida

After watching how much this kid developed from a freshman to a sophomore, I want to see what he will look like as a senior. After Florida's two National Titles, Calathes looked to be the key building block to getting the Gators back on the national stage.

Unfortunately, last season they were left out of the field of 65, but Calathes' numbers didn’t go unnoticed. If Calathes decides to leave for the NBA, the Gators could very well get left out again. He is vital to putting Florida back on the map and has the potential to be a future Steve Blake.

If he stays and increases his speed and proves to be the leader of his team, he can improve his stock from a second-rounder to a near lock in the first round. 


Dwayne Collins PF, Junior, Miami

Collins has an NBA prototype body but will have to stay for his senior year if he doesn’t want to risk going undrafted.

The junior out of Miami averaged just over 10 points and seven rebounds per game, and with his size and presence down low, I believe he will average a double-double next season.

With star guard Jack McClinton out of the picture, Collins must step up and be a leader if the Hurricanes want to compete in the ACC next season.


Brandon Costner PF, Junior, NC State

After putting up terrific numbers his freshman season, Costner fell into the sophomore slump. You can blame some of that on the addition of J.J. Hickson, who went to the NBA following his freshman season.

Last season, Costner raised his scoring average to 13 points a game, but he still has work to do to prove himself to scouts.  

There is no doubt the talent is there, as he proved two seasons ago, but he needs to get his scoring average up and show to be more of a dominating player and try to get N.C. State back into the top half of the ACC.


Bryan Davis PF, Junior, Texas A&M

Davis is a lot like Dwayne Collins; both have a good presence down low, but both need to increase their numbers and return for their senior season.  

If the Texas A&M junior decides to forgo his senior season and hire an agent, he most likely will go undrafted unless he has amazing workouts and surprises the scouts.


Austin Daye F, Sophomore, Gonzaga

The sophomore out of Irving, California has first round potential and has the all-around basketball skills for his size.

The problem lies with his maturity to put up the numbers on a night-to-night basis.  Throughout the season, Daye was a very streaky player who showed he needs to work on his consistency and strength.

I believe if he stays one more season with the Zags, he will be the Player of the Year in the West Coast Conference, assuming Patrick Mills stays in the draft.

With all that said, we're looking at a future lottery pick if he stays in school.


Eric Devendorf G, Junior, Syracuse

After being suspended earlier in the season, Devendorf has a target on his back. However, there is no doubting his natural skills at the guard position, averaging 16 points a game with Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris both in the same lineup.

With Flynn leaning towards staying in the draft, this gives Devendorf a perfect opportunity to shine and get plenty of exposure playing in the Big East.

As it stands now, the Bay City native looks to go late in the second round, giving him plenty of reason to erase his bad name and star for the Orange next season.


Devan Downey G, Junior, South Carolina

Personally, I have seen Downey play many times live, and he is one of the most amazing players I’ve seen not only for his size, but his heart and passion for the game.

When the 5’9" transfer from Cincinnati steps on the court, all eyes are on him. Downey is not afraid to take it to the hole against guys a foot taller than him or pop a three from the outside.

After averaging 20 points, five assists, and three steals a game, this guy almost certainly will be drafted.

But after leading his team to 21 wins last year, I would love for this guy to stay one more year and build on what Coach Horn has started and lead South Carolina to the tournament next season.


Jodie Meeks SG, Junior, Kentucky 

We all remember what Meeks did against Tennessee last season, torching them for 54 points, but I believe it would be in his best interest to return for his senior season under John Calipari.  

After averaging 24 points a game, we know he is a serious offensive threat, but he needs to work on getting his team more involved by building his assist numbers up.  

He needs to prove that his size won’t be a factor and continue to put up big numbers like he did to earn himself a first round pick.


Daniel Hackett PG, Junior, USC                                      

His great size and playmaking ability aren’t enough to ensure him a draft pick this year. If he impresses scouts with his workouts, he could get picked up late in the second round.

However, Hackett has three options: return for his senior season, enter the draft, or go back home and play professionally in Italy.

It all depends on what he wants to do; I don’t know why anyone would want to rush out of Southern California, but maybe he’s ready to start getting paid for his play.


Luke Harangody F, Junior, Notre Dame 

After putting up incredible numbers in college, there’s no question that this kid can play.  
Scouts have a problem with his size, which is in between typical sizes for a power forward and center, much like Tyler Hansbrough. Known for his scoring and rebounding, Harangody must improve his speed and mid-range shooting if he wants to find himself on an NBA roster in 2010.  

Most likely, he will be returning for his senior season to lead the Irish against the brutal Big East.


Paul Harris G/F, Junior, Syracuse

Scouts are most impressed with Harris’ natural talent even though he didn’t have the numbers to match his full potential.  

His size makes him a dangerous threat when driving to the hole, and he is also a consistent rebounder for his position. However, Harris needs another season to work on his jump shot and increase his scoring average.  

Harris likely would be chosen late in the first round or early in the second round if he decides to leave early.


Shawn Taggart F, Junior, Memphis

The future for Taggart looked very promising until his numbers failed to rise like expected.

He averages 10 points and is a threat on the defensive side of the ball, not to mention his rebounding skills.  

Taggart needs to return for his senior year and be the leader of the team and get all his numbers up. If he were to stay, there is a chance he could go undrafted or, at best, be a late second round pick.


Mac Koshwal C, Sophomore, DePaul

The sophomore out of Chicago was one of the bright spots for DePaul this past season.

Standing at 6'10" and averaging a double-double will make him one of the top centers returning next season if he decides to stay. Mac should return to school to work on his strength to be more of a force in the paint and gain valuable experience as a big man playing in the Big East.

He would be a late second round pick with the potential of going undrafted if he stayed in this year’s draft.


Gani Lawal F, Sophomore, Georgia Tech

Lawal has an all-around NBA game but still has to hone all his skills.

After starting strong last season, he started to fall off a little bit, almost forcing him to return next season.  

He most likely would be drafted, but there is no reason not to return for his junior season and develop in the ACC to prove himself to the scouts as a first round pick.


Tasmin Mitchell F, Junior, LSU

After putting his name in the NBA talks after his freshman year, he was plagued by injuries his sophomore year.

After bouncing back this season, the smartest thing the Louisiana native could do is prove that he can improve his numbers and potentially earn a lottery pick with his size and athleticism.


Scottie Reynolds G, Junior, Villanova

We all know Reynolds now, as he has made a good name for himself at Villanova and in the Big East.  

Despite his scoring and leadership skills, many teams are still skeptical if he can perform at the elite level.  

Most likely, he will return for his senior season, giving himself a chance to prove to all his doubters that his game is good enough to translate to a solid NBA player.


Donald Sloan G, Junior, Texas A&M

Sloan is probably the biggest question mark of all the early entry players of this year’s draft.

While only averaging 12 points in his junior season, Sloan needs to increase all his numbers as a senior if he even wants to hear his name in the 2010 draft.


Tyler Smith G/F, Junior, Tennessee

Overall, the SEC didn’t receive a lot of attention this past season. Neither did Smith’s 21 points a game.

This swingman has been one of the most consistent on the Vols' squad, but a first round exit in the NCAA tourney hurt Smith because of the lack of recognition.

Smith should return to Tennessee and lead his squad back to the tourney with a better seed to get the attention he deserves. He can move himself from a second round pick this season to a first round in next year’s draft.


Dar Tucker G/F, Sophomore, DePaul

Like his teammate Mac, both players need another year to solidify a spot in next season’s draft.  

While showing flashes of greatness in his freshman year and improving his scoring his sophomore year, he still has plenty of growing to do.

If he can find a consistent jump shot, he could be selected in the first round, and with two key players returning, maybe DePaul can get a few more wins next season in the Big East.


Nic Wise G, Junior, Arizona

Similar to Devan Downey, Wise needs to return to prove that his size should not be a question.

A pretty good shooter and quick as lightning, Wise will have to put up big numbers and let his play outshine his height.  

If he were to stay in the draft, he most likely would go undrafted.


Greivis Vasquez G, Junior, Maryland

There is no question that Vasquez earned draft stock during his junior season, but there are still many questions about his maturity.  

Although he puts up big numbers sometimes, the Venezuelan often does more damage to his own team than he does to his opponent. With bad shots and unnecessary turnovers, Greivis needs some more chew-outs from Gary Williams before he is ready for the NBA. 

Right now he stands as a late first round pick, but likely would end up in the second round.


Each of these players should have a major impact on college basketball if they decide to return to their respective schools. 

It will be interesting to see how their plans pan out and how it affects not only their teams, but potential championships as well.