Numbers from last year’s NBA draft show difficulty for early entrants


A total of 46 players from U.S. colleges entered the NBA draft before their senior season last year, and former Arizona forward Grant Jerrett is one of many of them who arguably could have used another year in college to develop further.

Grant Jerrett has yet to play an NBA game this season (YouTube video still)

Grant Jerrett has yet to play an NBA game this season (YouTube video still)

Jerrett, who left the program after averaging only 5.2 points a game in his freshman season of 2012-13, is one of eight early entrants from last year who is playing in the D-League. He is one of 28 early entrants who have not made a significant impact in the NBA in their first year. Jerrett, in fact, has yet to play an NBA game.

He is one of 17 early entrants whose dream of playing in the NBA is not yet realized.

Averaging at least 12 minutes a game (at least a quarter of a game) in the NBA for a rookie indicates a significant impact. It shows the player has potential beyond this season at the highest level.


Undrafted 16 34.8
First round (Lottery) 13 28.3
Second round 8 17.4
First round (other) 7 15.2
Withdrew 2 4.4

Premier League is minor league in U.S. and Canada. MPG – Minutes per game.

NBA team (at least 12 MPG) 13 28.3
NBA team (less than 12 MPG) 13 28.3
NBA D-League 8 17.4
Not with pro team 6 13.0
With foreign pro team 4 8.7
NBA yet to play 1 2.2
Premier League 1 2.2

Only 13 early entrants have played at least 12 minutes a game in the NBA, led by Michael Carter-Williams’ 34.6 a game for the talent-starved Philadelphia 76ers.

The top overall pick, Anthony Bennett, who left UNLV after his freshman season, averages barely over 12 minutes a game (12.3). Bennett, who averages only 4.2 points and 2.1 rebounds, was one of 13 early entrants who were lottery picks (among the first 14 selected).

Three of those lottery picks — Washington’s Otto Porter Jr. (8.2 minutes a game), Phoenix’s Alex Len (8.8) and Minnesota’s Shabazz Muhammad (8.0) — fall below the 12-minute barrier.

Bennett, Porter, Len and Muhammad could have used at least one more year of college, but their lottery status makes it understandable why they left early.

Twenty-six (or twice as many of the early-entrant lottery picks) either slipped to the second round, went undrafted or withdrew their names from consideration.

Only one undrafted player can look back and make the argument he made the right move to leave college early. Phil Pressey (formerly of Missouri) has started seven times and is averaging a respectable 13.8 minutes a game with Boston. The 5’11” point guard, however, only averages 2.5 points and 2.7 assists per game.

His former Missouri teammates Jabari Brown (on Oregon transfer) and Jordan Clarkson announced this week that they will enter the NBA draft. Brown is a former AAU teammate of Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson with the Oakland Soldiers.

Johnson and others contemplating an early exit to the NBA should take heed to the advice Pressey offered Bird and Clarkson.

“Make sure you’re ready,” Pressey told The Maneater, the student newspaper at Missouri. “You need to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re ready. Don’t just leave because it’s the NBA. I mean, the NBA takes no type of sympathy. If you’re not ready, they’re going to let you know it, and they’re going to send you elsewhere.”

A total of 16 (34.8 percent of the early entrants) went undrafted last year. Twenty (43.5 percent) are currently not playing in the NBA with six of them not on a pro roster anywhere.

Remember Arizona preparing its defensive game plan around Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State in the Sweet 16 last year? Thomas entered the NBA draft despite being a junior and fell to the late second round. He now plays in France, one of four early-entrants overseas.

These are facts Johnson, freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski must weigh in their decision-making process.

For every lottery pick last year, there were two players who slipped to the second round or went undrafted. If that is not alarming, then reality will never set in.

Jerrett is hoping to become the next Jeremy Lin, a former NBA D-League player who gained star status in the NBA. But out of an approximate 35 successful D-League call-ups since it became an NBA minor-league system in 2005, only Lin has become a headliner. He has yet to be named an All-Star.

Josh Howard and Antoine Walker are the only players who spent time in the D-League who have become an NBA All-Star.

If a player could understandably leave early, it would have been Arizona legend Sean Elliott, who was tempted by the idea after his junior season in 1987-88 of which he was a consensus All-American. College players were eligible for the draft after their junior seasons at that time.

Elliott returned for his senior season and earned multiple college basketball player of the year honors in 1989. He became Arizona’s career scoring leader with 2,555 points, breaking Lew Alcindor’s Pac-10 scoring record in the process. Those are lifetime achievements that will make Elliott’s name live on forever in college basketball history.

He became the third pick overall in the NBA draft and enjoyed a 12-year NBA career. He was a two-time NBA All-Star and won a world championship in 1999 with the Spurs.

Elliott is a perfect example of great things coming to those who wait instead of taking the money and run.

Steven Adams Pittsburgh 7-0 Fr. Round 1 (12th pick) Oklahoma City/14.9 MPG
C.J. Aiken St. Joseph's 6-9 Jr. Undrafted Not with pro team
Anthony Bennett UNLV 6-8 Fr. Round 1 (1st pick) Cleveland/12.3 MPG
Vander Blue Marquette 6-4 Jr. Undrafted Idaho (NBADL)
Lorenzo Brown N.C. State 6-5 Jr. Round 2 (22nd pick) Springfield (NBADL)
Reggie Bullock North Carolina 6-7 Jr. Round 1 (25th pick) L.A. Clippers/9.1 MPG
Trey Burke Michigan 6-0 Soph. Round 1 (9th pick) Utah/31.7 MPG
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Georgia 6-5 Soph. Round 1 (8th pick) Detroit/19.8 MPG
Michael Carter-Williams Syracuse 6-5 Soph. Round 1 (11th pick) Philadelphia/34.6 MPG
Adrien Coleman Bethune-Cookman 6-5 Jr. Undrafted Not with pro team
Allen Crabbe California 6-6 Jr. Round 2 (1st pick) Portland/5.1 MPG
Dewayne Dedmon Southern California 7-0 Jr. Undrafted Orlando/10.3 MPG
Gorgui Dieng Louisville 6-11 Jr. Round 1 (21st pick) Minnesota/10.1 MPG
Jamaal Franklin San Diego State 6-5 Jr. Round 2 (11th pick) Memphis/7.9 MPG
Archie Goodwin Kentucky 6-4 Fr. Round 1 (29th pick) Phoenix/10.0 MPG
Tim Hardaway Jr. Michigan 6-6 Jr. Round 1 (24th pick) New York/23.1 MPG
Grant Jerrett Arizona 6-10 Fr. Round 2 (10th pick) Tulsa (NBADL)
Christian Kabongo New Mexico State 6-4 Soph. Undrafted Not with pro team
Myck Kabongo Texas 6-1 Soph. Undrafted Austin (NBADL)
Shane Larkin Miami 5-11 Soph. Round 1 (18th pick) Dallas/10.7 MPG
Ricky Ledo Providence 6-7 Fr. Round 2 (13th pick) Dallas/3.0 MPG
Alex Len Maryland 7-1 Soph. Round 1 (5th pick) Phoenix/8.8 MPG
C.J. Leslie N.C. State 6-9 Jr. Undrafted Idaho (NBADL)
Nurideen Lindsey Rider 6-3 Jr. Undrafted Not with pro team
Amath M'Baye Oklahoma 6-9 Jr. Undrafted Mitsubishi (Japan)
Ray McCallum Detroit 6-3 Jr. Round 2 (6th pick) Sacramento/16.2 MPG
Ben McLemore Kansas 6-5 Fr. Round 1 (7th pick) Sacromento/25.8 MPG
Tony Mitchell North Texas 6-8 Soph. Round 2 (7th pick) Detroit/3.2 MPG
Shabazz Muhammad UCLA 6-6 Fr. Round 1 (14th pick) Minnesota/8.0 MPG
Nerlens Noel Kentucky 6-10 Fr. Round 1 (6th pick) Philadelphia/Yet to play
Victor Oladipo Indiana 6-5 Jr. Round 1 (2nd pick) Orlando/31.8 MPG
Kelly Olynyk Gonzaga 7-0 Jr. Round 1 (13th pick) Boston/19.3 MPG
Norvel Pelle L.A. College Prep 6-9 Post-Grad Withdrew Delaware (NBADL)
Otto Porter Jr. Georgetown 6-8 Soph. Round 1 (3rd pick) Washington/8.2 MPG
Marshawn Powell Arkansas 6-7 Jr. Undrafted Pieno (Lithuania)
Phil Pressey Missouri 5-11 Jr. Undrafted Boston/13.8 MPG
Andre Roberson Colorado 6-7 Jr. Round 1 (26th pick) Oklahoma City/10.2 MPG
Joshua Simmons Spartanburg Methodist (JC) 6-4 Fr. Withdrew Not with pro team
Trevis Simpson UNC-Greensboro 6-4 Jr. Undrafted Kolossos Rodou (Greece)
Tony Snell New Mexico 6-7 Jr. Round 1 (20th pick) Chicago/16.8 MPG
Tahj Tate Delaware State 6-4 Soph. Undrafted Carolina (Premier League)
John Taylor Fresno Pacific 6-1 Jr. Undrafted Not with pro team
Adonis Thomas Memphis 6-7 Soph. Undrafted Springfield (NBADL)
Deshaun Thomas Ohio State 6-7 Jr. Round 2 (28th pick) JSF Nanterre (France)
B.J. Young Arkansas 6-3 Soph. Undrafted Delaware (NBADL)
Cody Zeller Indiana 6-11 Soph. Round 1 (4th pick) Charlotte/17.0 MPG publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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