- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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The results are in. The decisions have been made. Without further (or any) ado, let's quickly evaluate the myriad choices made in the final 48 hours before Sunday night's NBA draft early-entry withdrawal deadline.
First up: Those leaving school and staying in the NBA draft.
STAYING IN DRAFT
Troy Gillenwater, forward, New Mexico State: If this is the first time you've found yourself seriously considering Gillenwater's draft prospects, well, you're not alone. The New Mexico State forward was something of an afterthought throughout this draft process, which is what happens when a) you play at New Mexico State and b) you're ranked outside the top 100 prospects in your draft class by most NBA scouts and general managers. In other words, like early-entry teammate Jahmar Young last year, Gillenwater seems likely to go undrafted, which is why it's hard to consider this a prudent decision on the junior's part.
Jeremy Green, guard, Stanford: Green's decision to stay in the draft ranks up there with Gillenwater's and Notre Dame forward Carleton Scott's as among the most questionable of this year's deadline. Green led the Pac-10 in scoring over the second half of the 2010-11 season, but he did so for a 15-16 Stanford team, and he was merely above average in offensive efficiency throughout the season. He did have some academic issues and that might've hastened his exit. Green isn't likely to be drafted any higher than a late second-round flier, as he'll have to hope his spot-shooting ability makes him at least somewhat attractive to NBA scouts.
Tobias Harris, forward, Tennessee: The only thing surprising about Harris' decision is that it didn't happen weeks ago. Had he returned, Harris -- a potential lottery pick -- would have been joining a team with a new coach, a handful of new players and any number of possible punishments (including potential postseason ban) levied by the NCAA Committee on Infractions next fall. Harris did seem to genuinely love his time in college, but really this was -- or maybe we should say "should have been" -- a no-brainer.
Scotty Hopson, guard, Tennessee: Given the circumstances in Knoxville, it's hard to fault Hopson for making the same decision as his Volunteer teammate. The problem? NBA scouts aren't nearly as high on Hopson as they are on Harris. The talented but maddeningly inconsistent guard will have to be Good Scotty more often than not in the next few weeks if he wants an NBA team to take a flier on him in the first round.
Reggie Jackson, guard, Boston College: Scouts still appear to be torn on his appropriate draft position, but our draft guru, Chad Ford, believes Jackson has first-round skills and lottery potential -- Ford calls Jackson one of the sleepers of the draft -- and this humble writer is inclined to agree. Throw in the huge amount of roster turnover at BC next season, along with the difficulty of improving on a thoroughly excellent junior season, and Jackson made the right call by leaving now.
Cory Joseph, guard, Texas: Who had Joseph in the early-entry draft pool? (You guys don't have an NBA draft decision pool? Me neither. But we should totally start one.) If you did, you're wiser than most. Joseph was solid in his freshman season, but nothing about that solidity screamed "one and done." Even his decision to test the waters was greeted as a surprise. Joseph reportedly impressed in his workout in New Jersey this weekend, but will that workout really give him the boost he needs to make this a defensible decision?
DeAndre Liggins, forward, Kentucky: Sorry, Kentucky fans. You can't win 'em all. The thought of Liggins returning alongside forward Terrence Jones -- and possibly coming off the bench as an elite defender and glue guy on one of the nation's most talented and athletic teams -- was a saliva-worthy prospect for Big Blue Nation. But it might not have been best for Liggins, who should only have returned if he was convinced he could add to his NBA résumé as a senior. At 23, Liggins' clock is already ticking. He might not be a first-round pick -- heck, he may not be drafted -- but Liggins may have made the right choice all the same.
Shelvin Mack, guard, Butler: You can see why NBA scouts would be a little scared of Mack. He's not explosively athletic, for one, and NBA scouts love them some athleticism. That's why two-time national runner-up seemed to agonize over this decision for so long. Still, Mack was one of the best players on the USA Select Team in 2010, and if he plays that well in the next few weeks, he could be a first-round pick.
Carleton Scott, forward, Notre Dame: Is this the surprise decision of the deadline? It's up there. Sure, Scott's athleticism and rebounding were major X factors for the wildly successful 2010-11 Irish. But Scott's draft status ranges from "nonexistent" to "wait, huh?" Besides, with four senior starters leaving Notre Dame this season, Scott -- who sat out as a freshman and had one final year of eligibility remaining for 2011-2012 -- had a chance to shine as the sole focus of ND's attack. Instead, Scott's going pro. This deserves a wow. Just ... wow.
Ralph Sampson III, center, Minnesota: There was some lingering doubt late Sunday night as to whether Sampson III was indeed staying in the draft, but most reports indicate he is doing just that. There's nothing wrong with Sampson III's game, per se. He's a big body, has a soft touch from inside 15 feet and, hey, the NBA needs centers. (There might be, what, five or six actual centers in the NBA game right now? See what I mean?) All that said, Sampson isn't there yet. To be frank, he isn't even in the vicinity of "there" yet. Unless something changes, he's a near lock to go undrafted in June. Why not build out your game for one more season in Minneapolis? Why force the issue now? (Editor's Note: Hold that thought. Turns out Sampson III did indeed pull his name out of the draft and will return to the Gophers.)
Tristan Thompson, forward, Texas: The decision of Joseph to stay in the draft was a surprise. Thompson's was not. He hesitated in hiring an agent after declaring for the draft, but most reports indicated that was merely a formality. Given Thompson's position among the best and most promising power forwards available in the draft, and his likely selection in the lottery, this was always the decision. The freshman may not have kept his word to reporters after the team's NCAA tournament loss, but it's hard to fault him for that now.
Klay Thompson, guard, Washington State: Thompson and his father, Mychal, consistently characterized Klay's decision to test the draft waters as something of a fact-finding mission. The facts were always favorable: Thompson is a likely first-round pick who could even garner lottery attention by the time the draft convenes in June. His decision to enter the draft was the right one.
If only we could say the same for everyone on this list. Sigh. (By which I mean to say: Good luck, fellas. Wish 'em well, everyone.)