NBA Draft 2011: Brandon Knight and 10 Prospects Who Should've Stayed in School
The 2011 NBA Draft is almost one full week away.
Every prospect is hoping to live out what looks like a bright future ahead of them.
Getting into the NBA is a dream come true for these young men. Many prospects are talented enough to believe going pro is not a matter of "if," but a matter of "when."
Although getting into the NBA is almost a certainty for these talented athletes, timing is important.
These 10 prospects said "when" a little too soon and could benefit from refining their game for one more year at the collegiate level.
10. Greg Smith, C, San Diego State
A projected second-round pick, Greg Smith has the athleticism and strength to play center in the NBA.
Despite an increase from 5.8 rebounds his freshman year to 8.1 his sophomore year, Smith's game didn't see much improvement overall.
A lot of what big men are responsible for requires hustle. Smith tends to lose focus on the court, leading to a lack of hustle and it may also explain the lack of improvement year to year.
In the NBA, even superstars have to work hard in order to get the most out of themselves and their teammates. The top players are not only the most talented, but also the hardest workers.
Smith could've benefited from getting his intangibles down and showing improvement in his would-be junior year.
Photo taken from here.
9. Jereme Richmond, SF, Illinois
Another projected second round pick, Jereme Richmond declared for the 2011 NBA Draft after his freshman year.
Richmond's draft stock is completely based on potential. It wouldn't be surprising to see him sneak into the bottom of the first round.
He's an amazing athlete, which bodes him well on the boards, defensively and in the open court.
However, Richmond is raw offensively. He has trouble creating his own shot, which means he'd be most effective spotting up.
The only problem is, Richmond needs to improve his jump shot, especially from deep.
An extra year or two in college would've provided Richmond more time to improve his scoring and hit the weight room.
8. Cory Joseph, G, Texas
Cory Joseph will have decent size as an NBA point guard at 6'3" and 186 pounds. However, his resume looks more like that of a shooting guard.
Joseph only averaged 10.4 points per game after one year in college.
He wasn't the go-to guy.
However, the combo guard has a good offensive arsenal. He can penetrate his way to the rim or pull up for the jumper.
The only issues with Joseph's game is his average of only three assists while playing 32.4 minutes a game.
It's not like he didn't have talent around him at Texas to distribute the rock.
Joseph could've used more time in college to become more of a facilitator.
7. Iman Shumpert, G, Georgia Tech
Iman Shumpert is another point guard prospect that plays like a shooting guard.
At 6'6" and 222 pounds, he has the ideal size and strength of a two guard.
Shumpert is turnover prone and his assists declined each year. Less ball handling will probably be best for him. Therefore, he may end up playing the two in the NBA.
The other knock on Shumpert's game is inconsistency shooting the ball. Returning to Georgia Tech to straighten it out his senior year wouldn't have hurt.
6. Darius Morris, PG, Michigan
Darius Morris is another large point guard prospect at 6'5" and 190 pounds.
Leadership, tough defense, decent shooting, excellent court vision and the ball handling required to make plays summarize what Morris brings to the table.
Morris can become a fine point guard in the NBA, so why return to Michigan for a third year?
Well, he can improve several things as well, such as: free throw shooting, turnovers and getting comfortable with the left hand.
If Morris doesn't develop his left, he will be easier to guard and even more turnover prone in the NBA.
5. Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA
Tyler Honeycutt has a lot of upside, but was disappointing in his sophomore campaign at UCLA.
He struggled with his shot for a good portion of the season. Despite a few big games, Honeycutt never broke out and was inconsistent.
Honeycutt's would-be junior year could've been the breakout season many people expected this season. He can do many things well but isn't terrific at anything in particular.
Another year in UCLA's weight rooms could've benefited Honeycutt—186 pounds is too light for any forward.
Honeycutt has multiple things going for him. First of all, his upside should land him in the bottom of the first round.
Also, several UCLA Bruins have been more successful in the NBA than they were in college. Just ask Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook how things have panned out so far.
4. Josh Selby, PG, Kansas
Josh Selby is another player with a lot of upside who declared for the draft too early. He struggled during his freshman year at Kansas.
Not only is Selby more of a scoring point guard, but he also only averaged about eight points and two assists per game.
Part of that is because he missed time due to injury and suspensions. Also, Selby wasn't asked to set the table at Kansas. The Morris twins took care of that.
Even so, Selby makes questionable decisions and plays selfishly at times. He has a long way to go before becoming a true point guard.
What teams admire about Selby is his ability to create shots for himself. He uses his quickness to penetrate a defense or step back for the jumper. Sometimes his shot selection is bad which leads to inconsistency in the mid range game.
Selby is still a first round prospect and might be picked higher than projected, but he could've used another season at Kansas to work on becoming a true point guard.
3. Tristan Thompson, F, Texas
If this year's draft wasn't so thin, Tristan Thompson would be returning to Texas for his sophomore season like he said he would.
However, Thompson is virtually guaranteed to be a lottery pick this year. The opportunity is too great to turn down.
Thompson, like Derrick Williams and others, is one of many tweeners stuck between the three and four.
He will see playing time at both forward positions in the NBA, but mainly as an undersized four until he polishes his offensive repertoire.
Thompson's versatility, hustle and rebounding alone make him one of the top prospects in this draft.
He could've worked on his perimeter game for another year at Texas, but NBA teams are ready to welcome Thompson's motor.
2. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State
Kawhi Leonard is currently ranked as the No. 1 small forward in this year's draft, according to ESPN's Chad Ford.
In his sophomore season, Leonard averaged a double-double: 15.5 PTS 10.6 REB.
However, even he could've used another year in college.
The knock on Leonard is his sub par jumper. Even the best players have off nights, but when Leonard has one, he's usually a non-factor in the game.
Leonard's motor on the court is mirrored by his work ethic off the court. He's putting in the work to improve his jump shot.
As a prospect considered a late bloomer by scouts, it's almost scary to imagine how NBA-ready Leonard would be if given another year to refine his consistency and perimeter game.
1. Brandon Knight, Kentucky
The final player who should've stayed for another year in college is Brandon Knight.
By staying in Kentucky for another season, Knight could've become a better facilitator.
While staying in school is best for his development, it'd be tough for Knight's stock to be any higher than it is right now. Marquis Teague's arrival in Kentucky might've changed Knight's role, resulting in a possible stock plummet.
Since Knight projects as a combo guard, the NBA team that drafts the young guard has to decide which role he's best suited for.
Be sure to catch the 2011 NBA Draft this Thursday at 7pm ET.