Ranking the List of Early Entrants into the 2012 NBA Draft

By: Kels Dayton

Omar Cook had a promising career at St. John's before leaving early and becoming a basketball nomad. Photo courtesy:

It’s that time of year again…the time that every college basketball fan dreads most.

Players are making decisions on whether or not they are going to jump to the NBA Draft, and thanks to a genius rule by Dr. Mark Emmert and the veritable theoretical physicists at the NCAA, they now only have  until April 10 to decide whether or not to come back to college.

Because, as everyone knows, the worst thing you could possibly have when trying to make an irreversible, life-changing decision that could mean millions of dollars is, you know…the time to actually make that decision. 

Now, the NBA doesn’t force players to make decisions until April 27, but that still leaves college kids with precious few weeks to gather information about where they might be chosen before they have to either double down on their futures or pull the chips back and wait until next year.

So, we could see more Omar Cooks and Hasheem Thabeets bust down the school doors Alice Cooper-style only to become basketball vagabonds. Here is a list of players who have already put their names in for the NBA Draft, and whether or not they are making the right move.


Thomas Robinson, Kansas (17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg). This was the only move for Thomas.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson might as well have been a senior in 2012. (Getty Images)

After a year in which he improved from role player to National Player of the Year runner-up, it’s time to go. Robinson also earned a unanimous selection as a first-team All-American, won the Roundball Big 12 Player of the Year Award, and carried the Jayhawks to within a game of the national title. There’s nothing left for Robinson to prove in Lawrence. He’s also got extenuating family circumstances that make saying no to the NBA bucks an impossibility. This is absolutely the right decision for Robinson, and it’s hardly a surprise. Every Kansas fan in America knew this was his final season in college.

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina (17.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Barnes is making the right decision in living after his sophomore year. The 6-8 forward probably would have declared for the draft coming out of high school in 2010 if it was possible, but he gained a couple years of valuable experience in Chapel Hill and is now ready for the League. Staying another year couldn’t have helped his draft stock much more, as he is already a lock to be taken in the lottery.

Sullinger will likely be a lottery pick, but his ceiling may be lower than many other players in this year's draft.(Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State (17.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg). No one would have batted an eye if Sullinger had left for the NBA last season, when he would have been a lottery pick. This year is no different, although it remains to be seen how well the 6-9, 265-pound power forward will do against NBA competition. He’s not going to be a star, but if he can be a solid rebounder and capable scorer (maybe in the DeJuan Blair mold?), Sullinger can be a key contributor on an NBA team.

Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (7.9 ppg, 9.7 apg). This one doesn’t make much sense, only because Marshall’s wrist injury is undoubtedly going to hurt his draft stock. Marshall is probably going to be a first-round pick, but you just get a nagging feeling that he probably should be returning to Chapel Hill instead, particularly because he would have gotten an opportunity to show his scoring worth with Barnes and Henson both gone.

Perry Jones III, Baylor (14 ppg, 7.7 rpg). It would have been nice to have seen Jones III stay at Baylor for another season, but that’s not the way things work in today’s game. Jones has plenty of “potential”, which means he’ll likely be a high lottery pick. But the 6-11 sophomore forward struggled at times this season, and never quite dominated the way a player of his caliber should have. If he stayed, the Bears could have been a national title contender next year, but you can never blame a lottery pick for leaving school early.

It's tough to say whether or not Henson could have benefited from another year in college, but in today's environment, he was gone. (AP Photo)

John Henson, North Carolina (13.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg). The 6-11 junior is Kate Moss-thin, and needs to put on a ton of weight before he is going to be able to bang bodies down low in the NBA. He could have been “the man” at Carolina next season, which could have greatly bolstered his draft stock. Still, that’s no longer the way the world works, and in today’s NBA climate, it made perfect sense for Henson to bolt. lists him as a likely late lotto-to-mid-first round pick. Here’s hoping the Big Muppet made the right decision.

Moe Harkless, St. John’s (15.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg). This one stings for Johnnies fans, because Harkless’ return would have likely meant an NCAA tournament bid and a run at a top-three Big East finish. Harkless was outstanding at times this season, becoming the first freshman in Big East history to put up 32 points in his debut, and scorching Duke for 30 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in an 83-76 loss in late January. He’s probably ready for the NBA, but it would have been nice to see Harkless stay for one more season.

Rivers had a memorable season at Duke, highlighted by his now-legendary game-winner at North Carolina. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Damian Lillard, Weber State (24.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.0 apg)- Lillard is a four-year player who received an extra year of eligibility after going down with an injury early last season. He finished second in the nation in scoring and also managed to put up 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game in 2012, leading Weber State to a terrific 25-7 season. Lillard has decent size (6-3), but will probably have to play the point in the NBA. Still, he’s got nothing left to prove in college, and may end up being a mid-first-round pick, so this is a good move.

Austin Rivers, Duke (15.4 ppg, 5.1 apg). This is probably the right decision, as Rivers is projected to be a lottery pick and will hire an agent. Still, you can’t help but get the feeling that he’s not quite ready for NBA stardom, and could have been the No. 1 overall pick had he stayed another year or two. It’s going to be fascinating to watch on draft night as Rivers inches closer and closer to the Celtics‘ pick. Will dad jump up in the draft to take his son? Can’t wait to watch that drama unfold.

Royce White, Iowa State (13.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg. 5.1 apg). White had a breakout performance in the NCAA tournament against Kentucky, and his stock is never going to be higher. He could end up being a lottery pick, and will almost undoubtedly land somewhere in the first round. Leaving Ames was a no-brainer for White.

Andre Drummond (10.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg) He’s rawer than a farm chicken, but Drummond is going to be a lottery pick because of his athleticism and size. He showed flashes of brilliance at Connecticut, and was actually one of the more consistent Huskies this season. This is the right move, but here’s hoping he won’t rot on the bench in the NBA.


Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State (15.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg). Moultrie improved greatly this season, and was probably the Bulldogs’ best player. He was terrific on the defensive end, and rose above top recruit Renardo Sidney’s antics all season long. Still, Moultrie could use another year of seasoning, because Europe and the NBDL are littered with 6-11 guys who had one good season at a major college.


Jeremy Lamb has decided to sell low on his NBA draft stock. (AP Photo)

Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut (17.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg). This would be listed as an incredibly bad decision if the Huskies had not been declared ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Instead, it’s highly questionable, at best. Lamb was awful as UConn’s go-to-guy last season; there’s no other way to put it. He’s rail-thin, inconsistent, lazy, and not nearly aggressive enough. He may be better in the NBA than he was in college because he won’t have to work as hard to get open shots, and he’ll be able to fill a role as anything other than the lead dog, which he excelled at in 2011, when Kemba Walker was still roaming the Storrs campus. Still, Lamb was a massive disappointment in his second year in college and could use another full regular season against Big East competition to prove that he can be a go-to scorer.

John Jenkins, Vanderbilt (19.9 ppg). Jenkins is a silky-smooth shooter and has the size at 6-4 to play 2-guard in the NBA, but he probably would have been better served heading back to school for one more season. Vanderbilt didn’t quite live up to its lofty preseason expectations, but could have been a Top 25 team had Jenkins decided to come back in 2013. He might have been able to take on more of the scoring load and prove that he can be a viable option in an NBA backcourt. Leaving now could hurt his draft stock, the number of minutes he gets and eventually, the course of his career in the NBA.


Fab Melo, Syracuse (7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg). This feels like another Hasheem Thabeet-type decision. Melo has NO offensive game to speak of, and while he is a terrific shotblocker, he is about as raw as a frozen hamburger. He needs to come back to school, but with the academic suspension and the possibility of Syracuse suffering an NCAA Tournament ban, it’s not going to happen, and that’s a shame. This is a stupid, STUPID decision.

Texas guard J'Covan Brown should really stay in school another year. (Getty Images)

J’Covan Brown, Texas (20.1 ppg, 3.8 apg). Another bad decision by J’Covan Brown. The shoot-first point guard desperately needs another year in college, especially because he’s just 6-1 and does not have NBA athleticism. Brown has put himself in position to become a basketball nomad, chosen somewhere in the second round of the draft and rotting on an NBA bench next season. If Brown had come back, the ‘Horns would have been a preseason Top-15 team.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State (17.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg). This is just plain idiotic. Cunningham was a solid player on an improving Oregon State squad, but he’s unlikely to be chosen in the draft at this point and really needs to stay in college another year. The 6-4 junior hasn’t hired an agent yet, so hopefully he wises up and goes back to school.

Khris Middleton, Texas A&M (13.2 ppg, 5 rpg). Our description of this decision, as Bill Walton would say it: “This is an EMBARRASSMENT. TERRRR-IBLE decision. WHAT is he THEENKING??!!! Middleton is CLEARLYYY his own planet right now. He must be smelling colors…feeling sounds. Like me when I was in Westwood, California. John Wooden would  CERTAINLY DISAPPROVE of this. Middleton is making one of the worst NBA draft decisions in the history of Western Civilization. He wouldn’t even be the top draft pick of the Guangdong Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. This is EMBARASSING.” Couldn’t have said it better, Bill.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown (12.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg). You have to wonder what some of these guys are thinking. Hollis Thompson is not likely to be drafted, and he is guaranteed not to go in the first round. It makes absolutely no sense for him to even put his name in the draft, yet somehow he is hiring an agent. This move is impossibly stupid; there’s just no other way to describe it.


Larry the Cable Guy has a better chance of being drafted than FAU's Raymond Taylor. (Photo:

Raymond Taylor, Florida Atlantic (8.9 ppg, 4.5 apg)- I don’t know what the motivation behind Taylor’s decision was, but Larry the Cable Guy might have a better chance to hear his name called on draft night than Raymond Taylor. The junior from Florida Atlantic might not get drafted if the NBA Draft was five rounds long. Taylor has also said that he will definitely hire an agent, so something else must be going on here. At least, I hope so.

Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State (9.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg) Speaking of Larry the Cable Guy, Renardo Sidney is entering the NBA Draft. And he’s already hired an agent There’s really nothing else to say. This is just plain stupid.

Maalik Wayns, Villanova (17.6 ppg, 4.6 apg). The Wildcats were awful this season, and Wayns couldn’t lift them out of the Big East basement. How is he going to help an NBA team? It just doesn’t make sense for Wayns to come out and hire an agent when the best he can hope for is to be chosen in the second round.



Dion Waiters, Syracuse.

Terrence Ross, Washington.

Victor Rudd, South Florida.

Toney Wroten, Washington.

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