Message to Cody Zeller: Staying in School Didn't Help the NBA Draft Stock of Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones or Harrison Barnes

Cody Zeller’s freshman season is over, and he’s got an important decision to make – enter the draft this year and be selected in the Top 10, where he’ll be paid big bucks or wait a year, enjoy the co-eds in Bloomington and try to win a title for Tom Crean the Hoosiers. Nobody has any clue what he’ll do, but if it matters, his brother Tyler passed on the NBA last year to try and win a title for the Tar Heels ((jury’s out on that one, but it doesn’t look too good).

Whoever is advising Cody Zeller will probably talk about these three guys who passed on the draft last year (perhaps because of the lockout):

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Is he still hurt? If so, he’s not saying. But if he’s not hurt, then what’s wrong? Sullinger was a beastly freshman, but hasn’t improved in any areas (with the exception of 3-point range) significantly enough to help his draft stock. He’s still effective on the low block (he abused Cincy’s Yancy Gates Thursday; let’s see how he does against Dieng the shot-blocker today the Melo-less Cuse today), but that’s against college kids. I think he would have been a Top 5 pick last year in a weak draft; this season, the draft is loaded and I’m starting to wonder if he is a Top 10 pick.

Perry Jones, Baylor: Dogged by the same criticisms from his freshman year – doesn’t take over games, seems to lack killer instinct, extremely passive, etc. But he’s 6-10 small forward dripping with potential, and fans of PJ3 will point out he’s playing with two guards who don’t know how to make an entry pass, and a coach who can’t run an offense. Still in the lottery, but definitely not a top 10 lock.

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina: Barnes is really sill living on his high school rep and shooting ability. He hasn’t improved significantly this season, and that kind of makes you wonder … has he hit his ceiling?

He should post up way more than he does, he should attack the basket much more than he does, and he’s prone to disappearing in big games. If you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, you could argue he doesn’t mess around inside because UNC has two future NBA players clogging the lane (Zeller, Henson). Barnes has dropped out of the Top 5 discussion (Davis, MKG, Beal, Rivers, Cody Zeller, Thomas Robinson, Drummond), and I actually think he’s closer to 10.

If Zeller stays, Indiana opens as a Top 5 team in the country with title aspirations, just like UNC and Ohio State this season. Both are in the Elite 8. The Hoosiers top five scorers would return, in addition to adding three Top 50 recruits.

Previously: 2012 NBA Mock Draft: A Pre-NCAA Tournament Version
Previously: Austin Rivers is Going to the NBA

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