The NBA Draft saw nine freshmen drafted, all of which were originally highly ranked by recruiting analysts in the Class of 2011 as high school prospects. The route these talented players took in jumping to the NBA from high school may serve as a predictor for the 2013 NBA Draft.
To no surprise, the top five prospects in the 2011 group all made the jump. According to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal and Quincy Miller were the top five players according to the variety of rankings sources that are accounted for in the list. UConn center Andre Drummond likely would have been included in that group, but he reclassified too late into the class to be included in the player rankings. At the time, he was considered by many to be the top player in the 2012 class.
The highest-rated 2011 recruit who stayed in school was the No. 6 player, James Michael McAdoo. He didn’t see much playing time in a jam-packed front court at North Carolina, so it is understandable that he will wait a year before potentially making the jump to the NBA. Just behind McAdoo, Kentucky lead guard Marquis Teague continued the impressive track record of point guards under coach John Calipari that have made the one-and-done leap.
The other one-and-done draft picks are surprising in retrospect, with No. 18 Tony Wroten taking his talent but significant inconsistency to the NBA, and No. 38 Maurice Harkless making the most of a thin St. John’s roster to excel in his only season of college hoops.
Using the 2011 class as an example, it seems as if incoming freshmen wing Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA), and centers Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) and Isaiah Austin (Baylor) are very safe bets to declare after a year in college. The other members of the top-5 are less certain as UCLA-bound Kyle Anderson is a very unique player but doesn’t seem to fit the NBA mold athletically. Meanwhile, Pitt signee Steven Adams has the talent, but the Pitt system doesn’t have a track record for showcasing freshmen stars.
Looking further down, UNLV signee Anthony Bennett is physically at a grown man’s level as an undersized power forward. Smooth forward Alex Poythress seems to have an ideal skill set to be have a successful freshman year at Kentucky. No. 7 Kaleb Tarczewski also could have a shot as a legitimate, no frills 7-foot center with a good debut at Arizona.
Noted NBA Draft website DraftExpress.com has published a 2013 mock draft, with Noel and Muhammad projected as the top two picks. Austin and Poythress come in at No. 6 and 7, while Kentucky incoming shooting guard Archie Goodwin is shown as the No. 9 pick, which is one slot ahead of where he was ranked in the consensus recruiting player rankings. No other 2012 recruit is currently listed at this time.
Certainly, there will be a Harkless-like darkhorse that excels as a freshman. Some candidates include combustible Providence shooting guard Ricardo Ledo, who is arguably a top-5 talent, if he can keep his act together. Farther down the list, Syracuse center DaJuan Coleman is already a huge physical presence that will be hard to ignore if his conditioning has improved, and Memphis signee Shaq Goodwin demonstrated an impressive combination of size and strength on the USA Basketball 18U team. It seems very likely that another sleeper or two will also emerge to add to that group.