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Scott Howard-Cooper

Kentucky's Anthony Davis, shown here with the USA Junior National Select Team, is the favorite to be No. 1.
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Early projections for the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft

Posted Mar 20 2012 9:43AM - Updated Mar 20 2012 5:39PM

The college season is nearly over, and it is still early to consider a mock draft close to a final version of what will transpire with the actual selections on June 28. Postseason camps and individual workouts should offer a chance for more shifts than the tournament offers. Ninety-nine percent of 2011-12 down on the international and NCAA front, forever to go.

There are the important, and possibly obvious, disclaimers:

• The projections, likewise based on conversations with NBA executives and scouts, will change with the lottery outcome May 30. At that point, team needs will be factored in, a valuable adjustment. This is Nos. 1 to 30, not plugged into any scenarios at the next level.

• Future versions will be adjusted to reflect players who have officially stayed in school. For now, all prospects are considered because front offices are still considering them. (Andre Drummond said in January he will return to Connecticut. Six talent evaluators from the NBA were asked if that has any credibility. Five said no.) Maybe it becomes a repeat of last year, when Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and John Henson returned to college despite being either lottery locks are good bets for the top 14. Maybe not.

Underclassmen have until 11:59 p.m. ET on April 29 to declare for the draft and 5 p.m. ET on June 18 to withdraw, before individual workouts are close to complete. And individual workouts are a big consideration for teams, in some cases enough to erase a disappointing tournament showing.

For starters:

Top 30 NBA Draft Prospects
Rank Player Height Weight Position School Comments
1. Anthony Davis 6-10 220 PF Kentucky Turned early race for top pick into a rout.
2. Harrison Barnes 6-8 210 SF North Carolina Scorer who must continue to compensate for lack of preferred athleticism.
3. Andre Drummond 6-11 275 C Connecticut A physical marvel who will go early on potential alone.
4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 6-7 210 SF Kentucky Versatile wing defender played his way up the board as a freshman.
5. Jared Sullinger 6-9 280 PF Ohio State True power player who knows how to score inside and rebound.
6. Bradley Beal 6-5 195 SG Florida The prototype shooting-guard game with the ability to pass as well.
7. Thomas Robinson 6-10 237 PF-SF Kansas From the 2011 shadow of the Morris twins to a chance for the top five.
8. Cody Zeller 6-11 210 C Indiana The younger brother of better-known Tyler impresses with offense.
9. James McAdoo 6-9 220 SF North Carolina Gets noticed despite understated role on a team with several lottery picks.
10. Perry Jones 6-11 235 PF Baylor Enigmatic sophomore will be a high risk-high reward pick.
11. Jeremy Lamb 6-5 185 SG Connecticut Fluid wing will score from most spots on the court.
12. Damian Lillard 6-2 185 PG Weber State The top point guard on the board is a scoring point.
13. John Henson 6-10 220 PF North Carolina Potential as major defensive presence will only increase with more muscle.
14. Austin Rivers 6-4 203 SG Duke The preseason hype slowed on Docs son, but the NBA interest did not.
15. Arnett Moultrie 6-10 230 PF Mississippi State Scores inside and out with good speed and mobility for a big.
16. Quincy Miller 6-9 210 SF Baylor Talent wrapped in inexperience and a season coming off knee surgery.
17. Meyers Leonard 7-0 245 C Illinois Mobile 7-footer can pass and has a shooting touch but needs strength.
18. Kendall Marshall 6-4 195 PG North Carolina Great passer and court vision offset by doubts about defense and shooting.
19. Terrence Jones 6-9 244 SF Kentucky Lottery talent has yet to harness the potential or consistent energy.
20. Jeffrey Taylor 6-7 225 SF Vanderbilt Standout defender who uses big-time bursts to get to the basket as well.
21. Terrence Ross 6-6 195 SG Washington Emerging sophomore can play either wing.
22. Tyler Zeller 6-11 240 C North Carolina Nice offensive skills, but lack of strength is a road block.
23. Patric Young 6-8 245 PF-C Florida Explosive athlete has said he will stay in school.
24. John Jenkins 6-4 205 SG Vanderbilt One of the best shooters on the board, with deep range.
25. Tony Wroten 6-5 205 SG-PG Washington Freshman combo guard could climb to the mid-teens.
26. Moe Harkless 6-8 210 SF St. Johns Big East Rookie of the Year scores and a great rebounder.
27. Myck Kabongo 6-1 170 PG Texas Already an advanced playmaker as a freshman.
28. Andrew Nicholson 6-9 220 PF St. Bonaventure Can score from the perimeter or the post.
29. Mason Plumlee 6-10 235 PF Duke Teams will take that size and mobility and mold it into something.
30. Fab Melo 7-0 255 C Syracuse Teams envision a shot-blocking presence with work on the boards.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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