9 NBA Draft Early Entries Who Could Be Helping Their College Teams

These missing pieces could still be impact players at the college level

Go ahead and do the math: 48 college underclassmen declared for the NBA Draft in 2013 for the opportunity at 30 first-round picks and guaranteed contracts.

With a handful of college seniors and international players in the first round, plenty of players have a chance to be disappointed on draft day.

College fans have reason to be disappointed, too. Their teams take hits in the draft, and some with little payoff in terms of an NBA roster spot.

A few college teams are struggling at this point of the season, and some could simply be better with an extra veteran on the roster.

This is our look at the top missing pieces — the players who could reasonably still be on college rosters. Sure, Indiana would be better off with Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo this season, but both were top-four draft picks. We’re not looking at those cases.

Instead, we’re looking at how the early entries from the 2013 and 2012 drafts who were not selected in the first round could have impacted their college teams in 2013-14.

This isn’t to shame players who declared early for the NBA Draft but missed out on being a lottery pick, either.

Surely, some didn’t make great decisions. But staying on a college basketball roster isn’t the perfect solution for everyone. After all, sitting on the end of an NBA roster or playing professionally in Europe still guarantees more (legitimate) income than playing in college.

For our purposes, this is a look at teams that may or may not be struggling this season and how some of the departed players who weren’t NBA locks may have helped this season.

Missing Pieces: NBA Draft Early Entries Who Could be Helping their College Teams

Vander Blue, Marquette
Final season: Junior, 2013
Draft status: Undrafted
Where he is now: Boston Celtics
After Blue recently signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics, he will have a shot at playing in an NBA game, but meanwhile, Marquette has struggled all season to score consistently. The Golden Eagles’ backcourt production has been lacking all season thanks in part to the season-long leg injury to incoming freshman Duane Wilson. The 6-4, 200-pound Blue led Marquette in scoring last season and was a clutch player in the team’s run to the Elite Eight last season. The Eagles haven’t won three consecutive games since.

C.J. Leslie, NC State
Final season: Junior, 2013
Draft status: Undrafted
Where he is now: Released by the New York Knicks
The cast of highly touted freshmen and veterans never meshed at NC State last season as the Wolfpack finished 11-7 in the ACC and lost to Temple in the NCAA round of 64 with Leslie on board. Sophomore T.J. Warren is still on the Wolfpack roster, but he sure could use some help. He’s averaging 22.2 points per game, but it takes him nearly 18 shots to get there. Although he was inconsistent last season, Leslie averaged 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season. He and Warren would at least give NC State a one-two punch that could put the Wolfpack onto the NCAA bubble.

Amath M’Baye, Oklahoma
Final season: Junior, 2013
Draft status: Undrafted
Where he is now: Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins, Japan
Oklahoma probably is an NCAA Tournament team without M’Baye, but an extra big body could make an impact in a tough Big 12. A Sooners team with a 6-9, 208-pound forward who can defend the perimeter in the mix would be a Big 12 title contender.

Phil Pressey, Missouri
Final season: Junior, 2013
Draft status: Undrafted
Where he is now: Averaging 1.6 points per game with the Celtics
Pressey has spent the entire season on an NBA roster, which is pretty good for an undrafted free agent. His alma mater Missouri started 12-1 but has since lost three of the last five in the SEC. Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson has fared well as the point guard, but the Tigers have managed to lose close games to Illinois, Georgia, Vanderbilt and LSU — all winnable games for the Tigers.

Adonis Thomas, Memphis
Final season: Sophomore, 2013
Draft status: Undrafted
Where he is now: Springfield Armor, NBA D-League
Adonis Thomas’ career at Memphis wasn’t what his recruiting reputation suggested he should have produced. And Tigers may be better this season anyway. Still, Thomas averaged 11.7 points per game last season. Not a bad piece to have around.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Final season: Junior, 2013
Draft status: 58th overall pick
Where he is now: Nanterre (France)
Ohio State can defend, but the Buckeyes rank 122nd in offensive efficiency on KenPom.com. Put Thomas on this season’s roster, and Ohio State is essentially the same team that went 29-8 and reached the Elite Eight last season. Thomas averaged 19.8 points per game last year while no Buckeye averages more than 14 points per game in 2013-14.

Royce White, Iowa State
Final season: Sophomore, 2012
Draft status: 16th overall, has not played
Where he is now: Cut by the Philadelphia 76ers
Every other player on this list was either undrafted or a late second round draft pick. White is an exception as the No. 16 pick of the Houston Rockets two years ago. He’s never played a game in the NBA as he and the team that drafted him couldn’t agree on stipulations he requested to deal with anxiety. If White had stayed at Iowa State, he’d be a fifth-year senior on a team that started 14-0. He and DeAndre Kane could have been No. 1 and No. 2 in nearly every major category for the Cyclones.

B.J. Young and Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
Final season: Sophomore (Young) and junior (Powell), 2013
Draft status: Undrafted
Where they are now: Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League (Young) and Ferro-ZNTU in the Ukraine (Powell)
Arkansas built itself into a fringe NCAA Tournament team this season in the non-conference schedule with decent wins over SMU, Minnesota and Cal. The Razorbacks, in foul-filled game for both sides, also managed to beat Kentucky in overtime last week. But the SEC road woes continued with losses to Texas A&M and Georgia. McDonald’s All-American freshman Bobby Portis has already been a difference maker, Houston transfer Alandise Harris is an impact player, and sophomore Michael Qualls is one of the most improved players in the SEC. Throw Young and Powell into the mix, and the Razorbacks would have one of the strongest rosters in the league.

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