The NBA Draft is quickly approaching and by now most college basketball prospects have elected to enter the draft or return to school. As many expected, the four big freshmen–Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Julius Randle–all entered their names into the draft. However, there are some big names that have returned to school to develop their game and improve their draft stock for next year.
Players like Le’Bryan Nash have yet to announce their decision, therefore they are left off the list below. The list below consists of ten college basketball players that have elected to return to school and have the best chance to develop and become first-round picks in next year’s NBA Draft.
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10. Terran Petteway
Terran Petteway carried the Nebraska Cornhuskers down the stretch of the regular season and earned them a NCAA tournament bid. Petteway is a versatile guard that can attack the rim as well as shoot the ball consistently from deep.
Petteway was a transfer from Texas Tech, where he averaged just 13 minutes a game his freshman season. After sitting out the 2012-13 season, he dominated last year for the Cornhuskers, averaging 18.1 points per game and shot 42.6 percent from the field. Another year at college for Petteway to become a better all-around guard will help improve his draft stock next year. His 6-6, 209-pound frame gives him very good size for a shooting guard in the NBA.
Petteway will have to learn how to be a better defender and also improve his ballhandling. Coming back to school is the best decision for Petteway to avoid the D-League and improve his game for the NBA. [Eds. note: We had Mitch McGary here before reports surfaced indicating his predicament, so… yeah, dude lost himself a lot of money over the last year.]
9. Rasheed Sulaimon
Sulaimon took a big step this season at Duke. Although he was benched earlier in the season, Sulaimon showed he is more than just a spot-up shooter. His ballhandling ability proved he can be a 1 or a 2 in the NBA. This season he established that he can beat just about anyone off the dribble by getting to the basket time after time and finishing strong at the rim. His statistics may have decreased since his freshman season but he went from being the top scoring option to being third last season behind Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. He shot 41 percent from three-point range, four percent better than his freshman season.
Sulaimon should be a big part of Duke’s offense this season and I expect him to continue to develop as a good all-around guard.
8. Juwan Staten
Guard, West Virginia
Staten may be the best player you have never heard of. He played for a bad West Virginia basketball team the past two seasons, but Staten has been the one bright spot for head coach Bobby Huggins. Staten averaged 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this past season. He stands at only 6-1 but plays a lot bigger. His ability to score in the paint is very impressive. He shot 49 percent from the field this season while only attempting 15 three-pointers all year.
Staten is fantastic off the dribble and can pull up and knock down his midrange jumper or get to the basket and finish strong. If Staten can develop his shot from three-point range, he has the ability to be a lottery pick this time next year.
7. Jordan Adams
Adams is a very skilled scorer. He averaged 17.4 points a night for UCLA and didn’t shy away against top competition. In the Bruins’ first matchup against Arizona, he had 12 points and 11 rebounds. In their second meeting with the Wildcats, he had 19 points. Adams scored in double-figures in every single game this season except for five!
Adams decision to return will allow him to work on becoming a better three-point shooter (only shot 35 percent this season) and allow him to learn how to do the other small things as a guard. He must learn how to handle the ball better and become a better defender to play at the next level.
6. Frank Kaminsky
Kaminsky was dominant for Wisconsin this season and is a huge reason they made a run to the Final Four.
At 7-0, Kaminsky has the ability to spread the floor and shoot from the outside, making him a lethal big man. He averaged 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Badgers. He shot career-highs in field goal percentage (52.8 percent) and three-point percentage (37.8 percent).
Kaminsky opted to come back for his senior season because of his lack of strength and size. If he can add some muscle to his frame, it will help him improve as a rebounder and make him a better post scorer. Kaminsky can move his way up draft boards if he has another good season at Wisconsin. Big men that can shoot from the outside are a nightmare for opposing big men to cover. Just ask Roy Hibbert.
5. Branden Dawson
Forward, Michigan State
Michigan State has lost almost their whole starting lineup this offseason. Gary Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling are all gone, leaving Dawson as the best player on the team. Dawson has improved in all three season at Michigan State and went from a role player to a key part of Tom Izzo and the Spartans’ success the last few seasons.
Dawson averaged 11 points to go along with eight boards a night and shot over 61 percent this season from the field. The problem with Dawson is his size. At 6-6, Dawson, who plays down low for Michigan State, will have to learn how to play out on the perimeter. He has attempted only nine three-pointers in his career. At 6-6 he will not be able to play power forward in the NBA. Dawson should make a call to former Spartan Draymond Green, who had a similar game to Dawson at Michigan State, and learn how to solidify his game for his future in the NBA.
4. Montrezl Harrell
I was very surprised to see Harrell return to school. Harrell took a big step this season and really developed into his new role for Rick Pitino. He went from scoring 5.7 points a night his freshman season to averaging 14 points per game this past season. Harrell grabbed 3.8 rebounds a night his freshman year while averaging 8.4 this season.
Harrell is very physical and has a great motor to compete on the glass. He’s long and explosive and runs the floor very well for a big man. Harrell will return as the go-to-guy for Louisville next year. His decision to stay will result in him being the new team leader and with another offseason to improve, expect Harrell to average a double-double next season.
3. Willie Cauley-Stein
Cauley-Stein could have entered the NBA Draft last season and been a late lottery pick and probably would have been a late lottery pick again this season. However, Cauley-Stein’s decision to return to school for his junior year may be the best thing for him. He is a great defensive player and at 7-0, 244 pounds, he has the ability to be an anchor on the defensive end of the floor for an NBA team. He averaged 2.9 blocks per game last season and averaged six rebounds per contest. His 1.2 steals a game show his quick hands and athleticism.
Cauley-Stein will need to improve his offensive game if he wants to rise on draft boards. Another year to learn the game of basketball and develop his scoring ability will give him a chance to go higher in the draft next season.
2. Marcus Paige
Guard, North Carolina
Marcus Paige made huge strides as a sophomore for North Carolina this season. His freshman season, he averaged 8.2 points per game and shot 35 percent from the field. His sophomore season, he averaged 17.5 points, 4.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds a night. He shot 44 percent from the field and shot 39 percent from three-point range.
Paige was, by far, North Carolina’s best player last season. In the Tar Heels’ 12-game winning streak, Paige led the team, scoring in double-figures in ten of those 12 games. His decision to return to school immediately makes him the best point guard in the country and if he continues to develop like he did between his freshman and sophomore year, he might be a top pick this time next year.
1. Andrew and Aaron Harrison
The Harrison twins returning to school makes John Calipari’s Wildcats the favorite to win the national championship next season. These two young men blossomed in front of the country on the biggest stage in college basketball this past season. Kentucky had been written off until the Harrison’s revived the Wildcats, leading them to the National Championship Game. Aaron Harrison made three huge three-pointers late in tournament games to beat Wisconsin, Michigan and Louisville. He averaged 13.7 points per game this past season but stepped up his game in the tournament. His decision to return to Kentucky will help him improve his ballhandling and defense. He also needs to develop his game off the dribble as he lacked the ability to consistently score when driving to the basket.
As a young point guard, Andrew showed great poise throughout tough times in the tournament. At 6-6, he is big and strong for the point guard position and returning to school should help him learn how to use his size more to expose the mismatch he posses opponents with. He also needs to improve his jump shot if he wants to be an impact player in the NBA. Andrew Harrison was sensational in their win over Wichita State in the tournament, scoring 20 points, as well as putting up 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds against Louisville. The Harrison twins should develop into top-5 worthy draft picks next season if they continue to progress at the speed they did late in the season.
Who do you think will be the best player in the nation next year?
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