With the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament over, the time has come for collegiate prospects to start throwing their names in the hat for the 2017 NBA Draft. One notable player to declare thus far is Duke forward Jayson Tatum, per Scout.com’s Evan Daniels.
Tatum averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field, 34.2 percent from three and 84.9 percent from the line as a freshman for the Blue Devils this season. As the fourth-ranked prospect on DraftExpress’ big board, Tatum will certainly be in play for the Sixers’ first-round selection this summer.
Ivan Rabb joins Tatum in the crop of underclassmen to declare for the draft today as well, again in a report from Daniels. Rabb, a sophomore at Cal, was widely seen as a potential lottery pick last summer, but decided to return to Berkeley. With another season’s worth of tape out there for scouts and teams to critique, Rabb’s stock has taken a hit this year, as he now sits 22nd on the DX big board.
A player who might be following in Rabb’s unfortunate footsteps is Texas A&M’s Robert Williams. The freshman big man will be returning for his sophomore year in College Station, per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Williams, a projected lottery pick and the sixth-ranked player on DX’s Mike Schmitz’s board, will now have to prove to scouts next season that he made the correct decision under a closer microscope.
A word of advice for the Rabbs and Williamses of the world: if you’re projected to go in the first round, declare for the draft and take that money while you can. With the way teams value youth on rookie deals, older players and upperclassmen need to have ultra-refined games to be worth high draft selections. The more a scout or teams sees of a player, the more weaknesses that become apparent. This is especially so for raw, athletic big men in the Rabb and Williams mold.
Stay tuned for Liberty Ballers’ Early Entry Tracker as more players make the leap to the NBA.