Will Barton and Quincy Miller: I’m not exactly a proponent of returning to school for underclassmen, especially for guys that are guaranteed to get guaranteed contracts. I hate to make things so simple, but I truly believe that it is smart to capitalize on your potential; when the money is there, go get it. Miller and Barton were both a long way from being first round locks in the 2012 NBA Draft, and that became abundantly clear as they plummeted through the first round to the 38th and 40th picks, respectively.
Miller went pro after initially announcing that he would be returning the school, ending his collegiate eligibility after a mediocre freshman season in which he was coming off of a torn ACL. If he had returned for his sophomore campaign with the quickness and explosiveness that he had lost, I don’t think it’s even a question of whether or not he could have locked up a first round pick. Barton doesn’t have the same kind of upside that Miller does, but if he returned for his junior season at Memphis after spending the summer improving his handle and jump shot, he has the heart and the talent to be a first round pick. Instead, both players will have to play their way into a contract.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacer’s first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft ended up being Miles Plumlee. This wouldn’t have been terrible if Indiana didn’t have a first round pick, but they did. The 26th pick, to be exact. Now, I understand how impressive it is to see a man that stands 7-feet tall in shoes show off his 40.5″ vertical, I really do. But Plumlee averaged career-highs of 6.6 points, 7.1 boards and 20.5 minutes as a nearly-24 year old senior at Duke last season. And he just got a guaranteed contract. I don’t get it.
Milwaukee Bucks: I’m not a huge fan of John Henson’s professional prospects, but I don’t think he’s a horrible pick in the 14th spot. He is long and he can block shots at the NBA level. But I do think this is a horrible pick when a) Tyler Zeller is still on the board and b) the Bucks picked Larry Sanders just two years ago.
Anyone recruiting against John Calipari: The Wildcats had six players drafted. Four went in the first round — including the fifth straight Calipari freshmen point guard — and that included the top two picks. That ain’t bad. You know what ain’t worse? Kentucky has more players drafted during Calipari’s tenure the past three years (15) than the Big Ten (10), the Pac-12 (10) and the rest of the SEC (11). During that time, 11 of those 15 draft picks were first rounders. In the 15 YEARS prior to Calipari’s arrival, Kentucky had 15 players drafted and 10 first rounders.
Maalik Wayns, Hollis Thompson, J’Covan Brown, Dominic Cheek and Dominique Ferguson: These five players entered the NBA Draft with collegiate eligibility remaining, and none of the five were picked. They were far from the only underclassmen that went undrafted, but the others — Renardo Sidney, Tony Mitchell, Terrell Stoglin, etc. — had extenuating circumstances that made returning to school nearly impossible. Each one of these guys has the talent to put together a long career as a pro ball player, but it is a shame to see them leave school without a degree when the riches of the NBA aren’t waiting.