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Seniors rising on draft boards

Updated: November 23, 2012, 3:21 PM ET
By Chad Ford

College seniors continue to be a dying breed in the NBA draft. The thinking is simple: After four years, all the good players have already exited college for the pros.

That certainly appears true on the surface. Look at the numbers. Eight of the top 10 ranked high school players who would have been a part of the graduating class of 2013 -- including John Wall, Derrick Williams, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors -- are already in the NBA. Another 10 players from the class have also bolted college by now.

Now that those players are gone, is there anyone left from this class for NBA scouts to analyze?

ESPN stats guru John Hollinger has consistently warned NBA scouts to be wary of older players who put up big numbers in their senior year. He says age is the biggest factor indicative of pro success.

"Everything about the draft has to be seen through the prism of age. This is hugely important, yet teams underestimate it almost every year," Hollinger wrote when introducing his Draft Rater. "Teams need to view guys like this the same way they look at a grade-school kid who's been left back twice and dominates the lunchtime kickball game."

Occasionally a late bloomer, such as Brandon Roy, comes along and makes us rethink the role of seniors in the draft, but for the most part, they are leftovers at this point in their careers.

In the 2012 draft, no seniors cracked the lottery, and only three -- Tyler Zeller, Andrew Nicholson and Festus Ezeli -- were taken in the first round.

In 2011, just one senior, Jimmer Fredette, landed in the top 20.

Things might be reversing a bit for the 2013 draft, however. A number of seniors are putting up big numbers early. That, on its surface, shouldn't surprise anyone. But it's the significant improvement in their games that is drawing the attention of scouts.

After talking with numerous NBA scouts and executives, here's a look at a group of college seniors who look like they could make some noise come June.

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