Top NBA prospects outside 'Big Six'
The "Big Six" college conferences -- the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC -- obviously get plenty of attention when it comes to the NBA draft.
But in the past several years, players from conferences outside of the Big Six have been more than holding their own. In 2012, Damian Lillard, from lowly Weber State, went No. 6 overall. In 2011, three players from non-Big Six teams went in the first round -- Kawhi Leonard, Kenneth Faried and Norris Cole. In the 2010 draft, six players from outside the high-major ranks went in the first round. Two of them -- Gordon Hayward from Butler and Paul George from Fresno State -- went in the top 10.
This year may be a repeat of 2010. We have five non-Big Six players projected as first-rounders, and three as potential lottery picks. (Check out our complete Top 100 here.)
I spoke with a number of NBA scouts to get a take on five players outside of the high-major leagues that they'll be scouting most closely this season. Here's the breakdown:
1. Tony Mitchell, F, So., North Texas
Top 100 Ranking: 5
Mitchell was an elite prospect coming out of high school, but ran into some academic trouble at Missouri and ended up sitting out the season before transferring to North Texas. He didn't disappoint in his first season with the Mean Green, averaging 14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3 bpg, and shooting 57 percent from the field.
Virtually everyone in the NBA expected him to declare for the draft after last season, but he surprised them all by returning to school for his sophomore season. If he were at North Carolina or Kentucky, Mitchell would likely be considered for the No. 1 pick in the draft.
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