The 2014-15 NBA regular season is officially in the books, so we (and the non-playoff teams) can now focus all of our energy on this summer's NBA Draft.
Of course, no one will know exactly where any of the teams in the lottery will pick until May 19, but that hasn't stopped dozens of players from putting their name on the NBA's early entry list. While North Carolina's Justin Jackson and Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson have both decided to spend at least one more season on campus, there has been no shortage of high-profile athletes who have declared over the past few days.
Sam Dekker, Junior, SF, 6'9", 230, Wisconsin
Sam Dekker was named to the 2015 NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team for good reason: His performances leading up to the National Championship game were the stuff of legend.
Dekker's three-point barrage vs. Arizona in the Elite Eight is something of an outlier: His ability to knock it down from deep is rather pedestrian, to be perfectly honest (33.1 percent in 2014-15). That said, Dekker's length, athleticism and die-hard mentality should enable him to have a solid career at the next level. Rest assured, he won't make it out of the first round on draft night.
Tyler Harvey, Sophomore, SG, 6'4", 185, Eastern Washington
When a junior guard from Eastern Washington gets a pretty lengthy write-up on NBA.com, it's enough to make you sit up and take notice. The 6'4" Harvey led the nation in scoring this past season (23.1 PPG) thanks in part to a Stephen Curry-esque efficiency from beyond the arc (43.1 percent).
There have been hundreds of scorers from mid-majors over the years who never heard their names called on draft night, but Harvey's elite shooting ability could land him a spot at the top of the second round.
Tyus Jones, Freshman, PG, 6'1", 170, Duke
Knock Tyus Jones's subpar shooting all you want: I'll gladly take a chance on an 18-year-old point guard who had a nearly 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while leading his team to a National Championship.
Another year in Durham may have been in Jones' best interests in the long term, but you can't fault a guy for striking while the iron is hot. And quite frankly, it would have been hard for Jones - the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Most Outstanding Player - to top his 23-point performance vs. Wisconsin in the title game. Jones will find a home somewhere in the late first round: Barring unforeseen circumstances, the lottery is a bit of a stretch.
Kevon Looney, Freshman, PF, 6'10", 210, UCLA
A month ago, Kevon Looney was No. 11 on the second edition of the Liberty Ballers Big Board, and that ranking is... about right. His offense is still a work in progress (he scored 10 points just once over UCLA's last five games), but he has exceptional length and is tougher than his 210-pound frame would imply. If nothing else, Looney should be a solid rebounder in the league on Day One, and it'll be up to his future employer's coaching staff to cultivate the rest of his talent.
Bobby Portis, Sophomore, PF, 6'11", 231, Arkansas
Bobby Portis only made it onto half of our ballots on the March Big Board, but to hear Jake Pavorsky tell it, the Arkansas forward could be something special:
"I'm higher than most on Portis, but many will catch on soon. He's got incredible range, a good post game, and a super active rebounder. Portis is also super agile too, essentially making him the total package. He's everything people want Noah Vonleh to be."
Portis doesn't have any standout skill in particular, but he's good value in the mid-to-late first round for a team in search of a versatile PF who can stretch the floor.
J.P. Tokoto, Junior, SF, 6'6", 200, North Carolina
Many expected Tokoto to have a breakout junior season after a promising sophomore campaign, but it never seemed to come together for the 6'5" forward. If the NBA Draft were strictly about athleticism, Tokoto would be a lottery pick. However, his offensive shortcomings will probably cause him to slide into the second round. That said, he may be worth taking a flier on in the 31-40 range if you're looking for an athletic wing who has the talent to be an above-average defender.
Justise Winslow, Freshman, SF, 6'6", 222, Duke
No one did more for their draft stock over the past month than Justise Winslow, a 6'6", do-everything small forward who is a lock to be taken in the top half of the lottery.
Kyle Neubeck wrote a bunch of words about Winslow back in August, and since then, the Duke freshman has made fans and player personel directions alike swoon at his potential. Personally, I don't think the Kawhi Leonard/Andre Iguodala comparisons are terribly off-base, and Winslow is a consistent jump shot away from being a multiple-time All-Star at the next level.