John Henson figures he could have been in the NBA draft "green room" a year ago, projected maybe to be chosen even higher than he will be tonight. But the North Carolina forward said last week he has no regrets about returning to school for his junior season, even though the Tar Heels fell short of their Final Four goal.
“It still hurts sometimes, knowing that [because of injuries] we weren’t able to give ‘em our best, best shot,’’ Henson said, remembering the team’s loss to Kansas in the NCAA Regional finals in March. “Hopefully, I can win a championship at the next level. ... And I think staying prepared me more for what’s to come.”
Henson is one of four Tar Heels expected to be picked in the first round, and the only question besides where he, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall will go is how quickly they will go.
In 2005, UNC’s Raymond Felton, Sean May, Marvin Williams and Rashad McCants were among the first 14 to hear their names announced; Duke also had four go in the top 14 in 1999. That ties for the quickest in the common draft era a school has had four players selected, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Henson, Barnes and Zeller will be in the "green room" tonight, along with UNC coach Roy Williams. (Marshall was not invited by the NBA.)
Here’s where ESPN.com’s Chad Ford predicts they will go in his latest Mock Draft, 9.4.
5. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento
Analysis: Someone isn't going to be very happy and it might be Barnes. Not only does he really not want to go to Sacramento, but it's possible the Kings trade this pick and he slides down even further. We think the stopping point is Golden State at No. 7, but don't be so sure (see Warriors comment below). I doubt he would slide past Toronto, though. The Raptors love, love, love Barnes at No. 8.
9. John Henson, Detroit
Analysis: Meyers Leonard occupied this spot for roughly six hours before Henson reclaimed it. Why? Henson, Leonard, Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones and Jared Sullinger all worked out in Detroit on Monday, and the consensus was that Henson really shined. The Pistons really need a shot-blocker, and Henson fits the bill.
11. Tyler Zeller, Portland
Analysis: If the Blazers go with a guard at No. 6, don't be surprised if they go big with their other selection. Zeller isn't a sexy pick, but he is capable of playing right now, has solid size for his position and runs the floor well. Other possibilities here include Dion Waiters, Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Ross.
20. Kendall Marshall, Denver
Analysis: Andre Miller's contract is up with the Nuggets this summer, and, in most every way, Marshall is the perfect replacement. They have similar builds and games. Although Ty Lawson is the clear starter in Denver, the Nuggets could really use depth at the position. Royce White and Andrew Nicholson are options here, as well.