Remember the days when the early entry was the exception? Those days are long gone.
There are more early entries into the NBA Draft than ever this year. The big question is why?
College players are coming out this year like there's 60 teams in the NBA. Either they're getting bad advice from their entourage or their ego is simply outpacing their talent.
Whatever the reason, there's plenty of young ones to sort through this year. Here's my thoughts on the guys who are true NBA talent and a few that need to rethink their current path.
2009 STATS: 11.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 BPG
AGENT: Not yet, but he's hunting.
THE WORD: He's big. His numbers weren't what they should be for that size. Still, he has a 12- to 15-footer that he's getting more and more accurate with. But has he fallen in love too much with it?
WHERE HE'LL GO: I'm not in love with him. I keep hearing scouts compare him to Joel Przybilla at best and that doesn't make me feel like I have to have him.
I think guys with four inches less height than him will play more like a center. I'm saying mid-teens.
2009 STATS: 15.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG
AGENT: Not yet.
THE WORD: I don't understand the questions on this guy and it's not just because I'm an ACC guy. He's 6'9" but with long arms. He's proven to be athletic and versatile. I don't know, maybe too versatile. Scouts seem to have a tough time pinning him down to a position.
WHERE HE'LL GO: If he slips out of the top 10, whomever takes him is getting the steal of 2010. I'd take him top 5.
2009 STATS: 15.1 PPG, 9.8 RPG
AGENT: John Greig
THE WORD: John Wall got all the attention, but Cousins just put up stats—easily the best minute-for-minute big man in the country.
The body's there and Cousins' March Madness run went a long way to dispelling some of the haters who thought his athletic ability and temper were roadblocks to NBA success.
WHERE HE'LL GO: No way he slips out of the top 5.
2009 STATS: 12.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.7 BPG
AGENT: Not yet.
THE WORD: Yes, he broke his wrist down the stretch and missed the final 13 games. But by all accounts, the wrist healed 100 percent. He nearly doubled his points output without a pointman consistently feeding him.
The shooting percentage was high, the rebounds are where they should be and the shot blocking for a 6'10" sophomore just shows his athletic versatility.
WHERE HE'LL GO: He's not the sexy pick on paper, but he's a top 10 guy.
2009 STATS: 12 PPG, 8.1 RPG
AGENT: Just announced he's in.
THE WORD: This is one where the numbers and the potential don't match. He was not the guy Bob Huggins thought he'd get this year. The jumper was weak. But then you look at him.
He's got length. He's versatile. He's tailor made for an NBA scouting report.
WHERE HE'LL GO: First round, but in the teens. Someone is going to get a bargain. This guy should go back to the mountain mamas but he won't. If an NBA team has patience for a year, they will have a lottery pick for No. 18-type money.
2009 STATS: 12.4 PPG, 8.4 PPG
AGENT: None announced yet, but he's on the prowl. He's in the draft.
THE WORD: Favors came into this year as the second most-hyped freshman. He didn't deliver the numbers to match that hype. Scouts will say that's because Tech didn't have a point guard to get him the shots. I didn't see the tenacity you want to see out of a guy that evokes comparisons to Amare Stoudamire.
WHERE HE'LL GO: Some team is going to fall in love with him and take him top 5. Book it. Should they? No. He's just outside of the top 10 in my book.
2009 STATS: 13.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG
AGENT: Not yet.
THE WORD: He's a classic 6'6" swingman. The body is NBA ready. The three is, too. There's still some manic low spots on the scout film though.
WHERE HE'LL GO: I can't see him cracking the top 10, but I can't see him dropping out of the teens either.
2009 STATS: 16.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG
AGENT: None yet. He just announced. But there will be straddling the fence here.
THE WORD: The 'Cuse had plenty of prime-time exposure and Johnson was always hitting the big shots. He sat out last year because of transfer rules, so some rust was expected. Not so much. Outside of the main numbers, he had 2.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.
The floor coverage is there. The jumper is solid. The defense is top notch.
WHERE HE'LL GO: No. 3
2009 STATS: 20.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 6.0 APG
AGENT: David Falk
THE WORD: He does it all. He scores, is a rebound magnet and can run the point. He just doesn't do it with as much flair as Wall.
WHERE HE'LL GO: The Jazz, Bulls, and Hornets need him more on paper. If they win the ping pong battle, he'll go No. 1. All other options, he's No. 2. I don't know why. He's the next Kobe Bryant.
2009 STATS: 16.6 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.3 RPG
AGENT: Not yet. But he's in.
THE WORD: All right, I get it. He's Derrick Rose all over again. He's the best prospect. Personally, I was turned off by the "look at me" dance in March and the "yeah, right" talk of staying in school. But there's no ignoring that he's the best prospect out there.
He explodes on you. And when he does, there's no cheapies. It's a "SportsCenter" highlight. The assist numbers are impressive for a guy that effortlessly takes over a game.
WHERE HE'LL GO: No doubt. No. 1.
2009 STATS: 13.9 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 5.4 BPG
AGENT: Andre Buck
THE WORD: He's Marshall, so he's really flown under the radar. But the freshman impressed early and often. The seven-footer is incredibly athletic in a Marcus Camby way. Like Camby, he comes in to the draft a little too lanky—he needs meat on the bone.
Hands down, the biggest gamble of the draft for where he's positioned.
WHERE HE'LL GO: How are you not going to take a seven-footer with guard-like nimbleness in the lottery?
There's far too many guys that are in, but shouldn't be.
A.J. Ogilvy, C, Vandy: He's a big man and scouts are dying to make this a big man league again. Still, he's a mid-second round guy at best.
Jordan Crawford, G, Xavier: He doesn't have an agent yet, but his tourney run has him looking to be in. He's early second round this year. One more year and he could be top 10.
The rest of the Kentucky guys: Center Daniel Orton thinks he's a lottery pick. Oddly enough, he might be. But that doesn't mean he's ready for the NBA. Patrick Patterson is the oldest and has solid numbers (14.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG) but his buzz is slipping big time. Thankfully, he's thinking of going back.
Avery Bradley, G, Texas: His perceived value is all over the place because he was all over the place on the court (in a bad way). Go back and refine the skills and you're a surefire top 5 guy in 2011. He won't listen though. No agent yet, but the hype is leaning that way.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma: Look in the mirror, homes. You were in a top 5 pick going into the season and now you're late first round at best. There's a reason.