Once again, we've reached that time of the year where students across this great land quickly come to the realization that they are no longer about that college life. Several of these individuals aren't leaving school because they bombed their mid-terms, however. The reality is quite the opposite: Many high-profile college basketball players have already passed the tests thrown at them on the court, and have decided to take their talents to the next level.
With the 2015 NBA Draft less than three months away, teams across the league are just now beginning the process of firming up their draft boards. Of course, the various Big Boards and rankings become more fluid with each passing day as underclassmen declare their intentions and renounce their remaining years of eligibility. But as it stands now, here is a list of the more prominent players who have decided to dip their toe into the NBA Draft pool:
Montrezl Harrell, Junior, PF, 6-8, 240, Louisville
Our very own Michael Baumann wrote a lot of words about Harrell earlier this season for Grantland, including the following excerpt:
When [Harrell is] on the floor, he's everywhere. He's boxing out on both ends, he's jumping passing lanes, and he's making himself available for outlet passes after defensive stops... He is cheering and waving a towel on the bench, driving the team bus, and walking Rick Pitino's dog. He is on his way to your house right now to pick you up and take you to the movies, and maybe if it's not too late, he'll take you for some ice cream on the way home.
The 6'8" Harrell is something of a high-energy forward in the mold of Kenneth Faried, but the latter was a far more productive rebounder on the collegiate level. Harrell figures to be at least a rotation guy in the NBA and is projected to fall somewhere in the mid-to-late first round.
R.J. Hunter, Junior, G, 6-6, 190, Georgia State
Hunter's shooting percentages regressed significantly this year, but he still has all of the tools to be a solid perimeter threat on the next level. At 6'6", Hunter has ideal size and length for his position, and he could be a possibility for the 76ers outside of the lottery if the team ends up with Miami's and/or Oklahoma City's first-round picks.
Jarell Martin, Sophomore, F, 6-9, 241, LSU
You never want to be tagged with the "tweener" label, but that's pretty much what Jarell Martin is: He's simply not a clear fit at either the 3 or the 4 spot. He's a strong rebounder (9.2 RPG as a sophomore), but his offensive skill set - while still a work in progress - is more suited to that a traditional small forward.
Five double-doubles in his last seven games (preceded by a 21 and 11 effort against Kentucky on February 10) raised Martin's stock quite a bit, and with a few strong workouts, he could lock down a spot at the end of the first round.
Kelly Oubre, Freshman, SF, 6-7, 204, Kansas
Kelly Oubre is a player who looks like he should have dominated on the collegiate level, but for whatever reason (a lack of opportunity, mostly), it rarely came together during his brief stay in Lawrence. He's long, athletic, a good shooter and is capable of being a pretty decent defender: That particular set of skills could lead to him getting picked somewhere in the 10-15 range.
Myles Turner, Freshman, PF, 7-0, 240, Texas
Turner is a prolific shot-blocker who, unlike most 7-footers, can also step out and knock down a mid-range jumper every now and then. His game log is littered with disappointing performances, but Turner still did enough this past season to find himself ranked No. 12 on the most recent edition of the Liberty Ballers Big Board. Many of us, including Derek Bodner, are intrigued by Turner's potential:
[Turner] presents a skill set that would, in theory, be a great fit next to Noel and Embiid: elite timing as a defensive rebounder, elite timing as a shot blocker, and range (albeit inconsistent) to create space. The biggest question, besides the inconsistency he's displayed recently, is whether he can move his feet well enough on the perimeter to really be effective playing next to Noel and Embiid.
Of the players who have officially entered so far, Turner is most likely to hear his name called first: The Texas freshman could very well fall in the back end of the lottery.
Other players who have declared for the 2015 draft include Florida's Michael Frazier, Tyler Harvey from Eastern Washington, Jordan Mickey of LSU, Terry Rozier of Louisville and UNLV's Rashad Vaughn. Underclassmen have until April 26 to declare and, provided that they haven't signed with an agent, can withdraw their name from the draft at any time before 5:00 PM on June 15.