10 potential breakthrough players
College basketball is bad for your NBA draft stock. That is what some will tell you. One narrative, which you hear constantly from fans, agents, players and Twitter, is that going back to school is, for lack of a better word, dumb. Look at Jared Sullinger. "Sully" was by some accounts a top-10 pick last year. He returned to school and hurt his back, and some of his limitations in size and style of play had him "plummet" to the Celtics at No. 21.
What about Terrence Jones? Some thought he could go in the lottery last year, but instead he went No. 18 to the Rockets this year. Harrison Barnes? He "fell" to No. 7 from the likely top-five pick he would have been last year. Even Andre Drummond, who played just one season at Connecticut, must have heard whispers that had he simply gone to prep school and made himself draft eligible, he would have gone No. 2 overall.
The fact is, however, that this argument is complete and utter nonsense.
Lost in this obtuse view is that college basketball actually helped far more players in the 2012 draft class than it hurt. Where would Meyers Leonard have gone last year? What about Thomas Robinson? Dion Waiters? Royce White? Fab Melo as a first-round pick -- had you uttered those words around Syracuse, N.Y., this time last year, they would have put a straitjacket on you. In fact, if you look at the first round, I would argue that more than half the players selected greatly improved their stock in college basketball this past season.
Here is a look at 10 players who, with continued work and greater opportunity, could emerge on 2013 NBA draft boards by next June -- but only after first posting breakthrough campaigns in college basketball in 2012-13.
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