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NBA draft breakdown: The top 10 shooting guards

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All this week at CBT, we’ll be spotlighting the top players at each position for the 2012 NBA draft. Monday featured the top point guards. Today? The shooting guards.

1. Bradley Beal, Fr., Florida: Beal’s always been a star, but he showcased more than his shooting skills with the Gators. An overabundance of scorers often forced Florida coach Billy Donovan to play Beal on the wing or even at power forward at times and he responded by leading them in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and was second in scoring (14.8 ppg). The only surprise was his perimeter shooting. Beal’s often compared to Ray Allen for his poise and pure shooting stroke, but Allen never shot worse than 40 percent beyond the arc in college. Beal made just 34 percent of his 186 attempts, a number that must improve. Still, if there’s a can’t miss guard in the draft, it’s Beal. He plays smart, plays hard and is a true talent.

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2. Jeremy Lamb, So. Connecticut: Lamb looks like an NBA star. Long, lean with surprising quickness and a solid shot, he could step in as a team’s second or third option right away – if he feels like it. Passivity has always been Lamb’s biggest issue. That he rarely forces shots is both his biggest strength and weakness. Could he be a star? Absolutely. But he’d have to want to be a star. On a team that likes using pick and rolls, he’ll average 15 or more as a rookie.

3. Austin Rivers, Fr., Duke: Unlike Lamb, there’s no question Rivers wants to be a star. His lightning-quick crossover is perfect for the NBA, he boasts the range and the knack for hitting game-winners. But is Rivers’ too aggressive and too willing to go one-on-one with defenders? He’ll quickly adjust to the NBA’s speed and physical style and there’ll be night when he shines. Question is, what happens on the nights when he can’t connect? Can he contribute in other ways?

4. Dion Waiters, So., Syracuse: The 6-4 specimen reportedly has a promise that’ll he be a lottery pick, which means someone will add a player who can overpower most shooting guards. Waiters is strong, excels at getting into the lane and creating his own shot. His college production (12.6 ppg) doesn’t do his skills justice, mostly because he was willing to be part of the Orange’s system. The only problem? Waiters is a bit short and he doesn’t boast a strong perimeter game.

5. Terrence Ross, So., Washington: The 6-7 Ross also would thrive on the wing, but his frame is probably better suited to an NBA team’s backcourt. When Ross’ jumper is falling (45.7 percent and 51.8 percent on twos), he’s deadly. He’ll slash in the lane, pull up for a jumper or attack the rim. His confidence and game developed rapidly in just two years at Washington. What’s the limit once he hits the pros?

6. John Jenkins, Jr., Vanderbilt: Need a guy to stretch the defense? Jenkins is your man. He’s a little slow and not overly athletic, which might limit his role in the NBA, but his shot can’t be questioned. With a little more work on his ball-handling, Jenkins could have a long, productive career.

7. Orlando Johnson, Sr. Santa Barbara: Johnson was a prolific scorer the last three years and delivered when it mattered for the Gauchos, leading them to two NCAA tournament appearances. But he’s a volume scorer who has average size and athleticism.

8. Doron Lamb, So. Kentucky: Consider Lamb at this spot a bargain. He’s Jenkins, but with a better shooting stroke. If he lasts into the second round and Cleveland gets him, that’s instant offense off the bench. A smart contender – like Chicago or Miami – would be even smarter to nab him at the end of the first round.

9. Jared Cunningham, Jr. Oregon State: No guard prospect boasts more athleticism than Cunningham. He’s not overly skilled, but would be an immediate boosts as a defensive player and spark off the bench. His shot and ball-handling need work, but this might be the player with the most upside in this group.

10. Will Barton, So., Memphis: Barton’s game might be better suited for the wing given that his perimeter stroke is inconsistent. But he’s got the quickness to play the 2 and can get to the rim when he wants.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.

USC’s Nikola Jovanovic not expected to return to USC

Southern California forward Nikola Jovanovic pauses on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Nikola Jovanovic’s college career has come to a close.

The USC center will not withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration by Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m., a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Jovanovic, a 6-foot-11 Serbian, averaged 12.3 points and 7.0 boards as a junior with the Trojans.

Jovanovic is not expected to be drafted, which means that Andy Enfield’s club will be losing two players to the professional ranks with eligibility to spare that likely won’t end up on an NBA roster next season. Julian Jacobs, who averaged 11.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 boards, signed with an agent back in April.

The Trojans were a top 25 team last season despite many considering them to still be “a year away”. But with two starters departing, the Trojans will be a borderline preseason top 25 team as opposed to a top 15 team.

Marcus Lee withdrawing from the draft, transferring from Kentucky

Kentucky forward Marcus Lee dunks during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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For the second time this season and just the sixth time in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats are losing a player to transfer.

Marcus Lee announced on Wednesday that he will be withdrawing from the NBA Draft, but the 6-foot-9 forward will not be returning to Kentucky. He will be transferring out of the program to a new school.

“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”

Lee averaged 6.4 points and 6.0 boards this season, seeing his first major minutes as a member of the Wildcats. But he seemed destined for a bench role if he had opted to return to Kentucky this season as John Calipari has landed a recruiting class that includes five-star freshmen Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

The tough part?

It does not appear that Lee will be able to finish his degree and be eligible to play immediately next season. He’ll have to sit a year at whatever school he opts to transfer to.

“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” head coach John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”

Lee joins Charles Matthews as members of last year’s Wildcats that are transferring out of the program. Darnell Dodson (Southern Miss), Stacey Poole (Georgia Tech) , Ryan Harrow (Georgia State) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) are the other four players that have transferred.

Isaiah Briscoe to return to Kentucky

Eric Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Isaiah Briscoe announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3 guard had one of the more difficult decisions to make for players in this year’s draft class. On the one hand, there was a very real chance that he would go through this draft without getting picked. He was a role-playing guard on last year’s team that isn’t a point guard, isn’t big enough to be a two-guard and was a total liability shooting the ball.

But he’s returning to a team that is as loaded as the group that won their first 38 games two years ago, particularly in the back court. He’ll be playing behind De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk who both play essentially the same role that Briscoe does: playmaking guards that thrive with the ball in their hands. And since Briscoe can’t shoot, he may not be the best option at the three, where Derek Willis will likely see minutes.

In other words, Briscoe returning to school is essentially a two-year decision.

Kentucky now awaits an announcement from Marcus Lee on whether or not he will be returning to school.

James Blackmon Jr. to return to Indiana, Troy Williams to remain in draft

James Blackmon Jr.
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
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James Blackmon Jr. will be returning to Indiana for his junior season, the school announced on Wednesday morning.

Blackmon missed the final 22 games of his sophomore season following surgery on his knee in December. As a freshman, Blackmon averaged 15.8 points and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc.

Indiana now awaits word on the decision that will be made by Troy Williams. A junior swingman, Williams has a shot to be an early second round pick if he opts to stay in the draft. There is a report from the Indy Star that he will keep his name in the draft, but the program has yet to confirm that news.

Losing Williams would hurt, but it’s a loss that Indiana can overcome. The emergence of O.G. Anunoby as a versatile defender means that the Hoosiers have a guy that can be a defensive stopper and can allow them to play small and fast. Anunoby also has not proven to be prone to bouts of poor decision-making, which arguably may make him a better fit.