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May 9, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Who’s in and who’s out of the NBA draft

No one had a sudden change of heart and returned to school. At least no one that would have played in the Pac-12 conference.
Every underclassman who declared for the NBA will remain in the June 23 draft. If you’re keeping track that’s nine early defections and a major drain on a league lacking in star power. The conference loses it’s top five scorers and eight of its 10 all-conference first team players.
We take a brief look at each prospect and analyze their decision.


MADE THE RIGHT MOVE
Derrick Williams, Arizona — The Wildcats forward said he agonized over the decision, but he had to go. There was nothing left for him to accomplish at Arizona. Williams could be the first player taken in the draft.
Alec Burks, Colorado — Great decision to leave school early. The NBA needs scorers and he’s one of the best in the draft. His jumper is spotty, but the 6-foot-6 shooting guard is athletic and explosive and no one can stop him from getting to the rim. Burks is likely a lottery pick, who could work his way up into a top seven.
Klay Thompson, Washington State — Thompson’s father says four teams in the lottery are interested in the Cougars junior guard. That’s probably true. Everyone I talk to says Thompson is the kind of player who will dazzle in individual workouts.
IT’S A RISK THAT COULD GO EITHER WAY
Nikola Vucevic, USC — His European ties make him an attractive prospect because he could go overseas in case of a NBA lockout. I’m hearing he’ll go high in the second round, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he came off the board in the middle of the first round. His versatile skill set should transition well to the NBA. Vucevic is an excellent help defender. Offensively he can dribble, pass, score in the low post and has a decent mid-range jumper.
Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA — The 6-8 sophomore forward didn’t have the type of season that made anyone believe he was going to jump to the NBA. He averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Still Honeycutt has loads of potential. He has three-point range and is capable of scoring in transition. Honeycutt also has long wingspan and is an accomplished shot blocker who led the Pac-10 with 2.06 per game last season.
Isaiah Thomas, Washington — Months ago the Husky guard didn’t appear in any mock drafts. Today many NBA scouts say he’ll be taken in the second round. Who knows where Thomas will be a month from now? UW fans will remember Nate Robinson skyrocketed up the mock drafts during the workouts and was taken 21st overall in 2005.
DeAngelo Casto, Washington State — The 6-foot-8 forward is limited offensively, but he’s a solid low-post defender. Casto was able to overpower some Pac-10 teams, but his game doesn’t translate well in the NBA where he’d have to face 7-footers. Casto knows he’s unlikely to get drafted, but he has financial incentives to turn pro.
WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
Jeremy Green, Stanford — This one is a head scratcher. Green gave no indication he would bolt before his senior season. He averaged 16.7 points last season, fifth-best in the Pac-10. Green started slowly and was one of the conference’s best players over the second half of the season. Still his decision leads to speculation that there might have been offcourt concerns. Green is a three-point specialist and the NBA needs shooters, but he’s likely to begin his professional career overseas.
Malcolm Lee, UCLA — Lee’s forte is defense. He’s a pretty good perimeter defender, but NBA teams don’t use first-round draft picks on pretty good perimeter defenders. Teams are also leery of drafting someone who is rehabbing a torn meniscus in his left knee. Lee underwent surgery March 22 and he’s still unable to work out for teams. He’s banking on the recent impressive history of Bruins guard in the NBA will help him get a look from teams.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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