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2014 NBA Draft Preview: Eight second round sleepers

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than a week until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a look at second round value picks:

MOREUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | Top Ten Players in Five Years | Busts?

1. Joe Harris, Virginia

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 36), Chad Ford (No. 38)
  • Scott Phillips: “NBA teams are always looking for role players that showcase a specific skill, are low maintenance to deal with and come with a low learning curve. Harris checks the box for all of those details. The four-year college veteran has good size on the wing, can knock down perimeter shots, defend, and he plays with a high IQ thanks to being a coach’s son and four years under Tony Bennett.”
  • Rob Dauster: “I think Harris hangs around the NBA for a while. He can shoot the heck out of the ball, he’s got the size to defend NBA two-guards and he spent four years learning how to play defense under one of the best in the game in Tony Bennett. The next Danny Green?”

2. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 40), Chad Ford (No. 39)
  • SP: “If it weren’t for a torn ACL on January 12th, Dinwiddie would be in the discussion as a first-round pick. A tall guard that can man both backcourt spots, Dinwiddie had tremendous shooting splits his junior year (46% FG, 41% 3PT, 86% FT) and is also a natural leader.”
  • RD: “ACL injuries aren’t as devastating as they used to be and Dinwiddie is a first round talent. If you can get him without having to give him a guaranteed contract, you do it.”
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3. Bryce Cotton, Providence

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. N/A), Chad Ford (No. 57)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “Count me as a member of the ‘Bryce Cotton Fan Club’. He was asked to do darn near everything for the Friars on the perimeter, especially once they lost Kris Dunn for the season. He obviously can score in a variety of ways, and for that reason I think his ability to distribute the basketball is overlooked by some. Providence needed him to think “score first” in order to be successful; I see him developing into a solid option off the bench for a team even if he doesn’t hear his name called Thursday night, a la Isaiah Thomas.”

4. Johnny O’Bryant, LSU

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. N/A), Chad Ford (No. 42)
  • RD: “O’Bryant is a big body that can score with his back to the basket, and those don’t come around too often. He’s had conditioning issues in the past and he has a habit of forcing tough shots, but that might have also been a by-product of playing in LSU’s ‘system’. I’m not sure how long he lasts in the NBA, but I do think that he is an NBA-caliber and a major sleeper if he falls into the second round.”

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5. Russ Smith, Louisville

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 45), Chad Ford (No. 59)
  • SP: “It took four years for Russdiculous to settle down and be more of a point guard, but I love his scorer’s mentality off-the-bench for a team that will let him hunt his offense. Smith is incredibly fast, makes difficult shots from all over the floor and he can heat up in a hurry. He’s very competitive and won a lot of games at Louisville. His slight frame concerns me a bit.”

6. Deonte Burton, Nevada

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 49), Chad Ford (No. N/A)
  • RJ: “Did he take a high number of shots? Yes. Did his team need him to do that in order to be successful? Yes. Put him in a system that has a credible low-post scoring threat, and I think his assist numbers are better than they were at Nevada. And the athleticism? He’s one of the most athletic players in this draft, and the spark a player like that can provide off the bench is certainly valuable.”

7. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 33), Chad Ford (No. 33)
  • RD: “Early is old for a college senior (23) and, as impressive as his performance against Kentucky was in the NCAA tournament, he never consistently seemed like he was a natural wing player, particularly on the offensive end. He’s athletic enough that he should be able to defend at that level, however, so if he can consistently be a three-point threat, he’s got a chance to latch on.”

8. C.J. Wilcox, Washington

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 34), Chad Ford (No. 35)
  • RD: “I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz around Wilcox. He’s a big-time scorer with deep range that is better finishing in the mid-range than he gets credit for. He’s 6-foot-5 and a good athlete as well. Does he want to defend? Can he create his own shot? He’ll make them if he’s left open, but there are a lot of guys that can shoot if a look is created for them.”

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.