The 2014 NBA tracker: a look at the best senior prospects

Although the extraordinary freshman class and a few other underclassmen have taken most of the headlines about the 2014 NBA draft, there are plenty of talented seniors who left their mark on college basketball this season.  Doug McDermott of Creighton won every major National Player of the Year award and was an Associated Press first team All-American.  Three other seniors also earned AP first team All-American honors; Shabazz Napier of UConn, Russ Smith of Louisville and Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati.   Even though none of the seniors are expected to be selected in the first few picks, plenty of them will hear their name called in on draft night.

Here is a look at the seniors who have a chance to be drafted, including a handful of players who may end up in a Jazz uniform.

Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott is an incredible scorer who left Creighton as one of the best players to ever play the college ball.  The three-time first team All-American totaled more than 3,100 points in his four seasons as a Blue Jay.  Even though he had a dominant career, McDermott saved his best for last as a senior.  He averaged a career-high 26.7 points on 52.6 percent shooting from the floor to go along with seven rebounds.  His most impressive game of the season came in a March win over Providence when McDermott scored 45 points on 17-of-25 shooting.

For his career, McDermott averaged 21.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 145 games.

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut: Napier is an ultra quick point guard who was a first team All-American after leading the Huskies to their second National Championship since he stepped on campus.  Napier averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals a game as a senior.  His most impressive game of the season came in a February win over Memphis when Napier finished with 34 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.

For his career, Napier averaged 13.7 points, four rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 143 games.

Adreian Payne, Michigan State: Payne is a post player with nice outside touch who has shown amazing growth in his time at Michigan State.  Payne went from a little-used bench player as a freshman to a major piece at one of the most dominant programs in college basketball.  As a senior, Payne averaged 16.4 points on 50.3 percent shooting as well as 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists.  His most impressive game came in an NCAA tournament win over Delaware when Payne scored 41 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor, 4-of-5 from behind the arc and a perfect 17 for 17 from the free-throw line.

For his career, Payne averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 138 games for the Spartans.

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State: Early was a huge reason why Wichita State has had so much success the last two seasons.  He exploded of the national scene with a pair a 20 point performances as the Shockers made a run to the 2013 Final Four including a 24 point, 10 rebound outing in the national semi final loss to Louisville.  A year later, Early averaged 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds a game as Wichita State finished the regular season undefeated.  His most impressive game of the season came in an NCAA tournament loss to Kentucky when Early registered 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.

For his career, Early averaged 15.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 75 games.

C.J. Wilcox, Washington: the shooting guard from Pleasant Grove high school had a very successful career in his four seasons with the Huskies.  As a senior, Wilcox averaged 18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, one steal and a block a game.  His most impressive performance came in a January win over Colorado when Wilcox scored 31 points on the strength of a 7-of-12 shooting night from behind the arc.  That night, Wilcox also added four rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks.

For his career, Wilcox averaged 14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 131 games for Washington.

Melvin Ejim, Iowa State: after being a solid contributor for the Cyclones his first seasons, Ejim stepped up in a big way as a senior to earn BIg 12 Player of the Year honors.  Ejim averaged a career-high 17.8 points on 50.5 percent shooting from the floor as well as 8.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals a game.  His best game of the year was an incredible performance in a win over TCU when Ejim totaled 48 points on 20-of-24 shooting, 18 rebounds and two steals.

For his career, Ejim averaged 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 135 games.

Cory Jefferson, Baylor: after limited minutes in his first two seasons on the floor with the Bears, Jefferson was given more minutes in his last two years and proved his was worthy of the opportunity.  As a senior, Jefferson averaged 13.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting, 8.2 rebounds, one assist and 1.3 blocks a game.  His best game came in a February win over Oklahoma State when Jefferson finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

For his career, 8.9 points on 54.3 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 130 games.

Deonte Burton, Nevada: the Nevada point guard has played a huge role for the Wolf Pack ever since he stepped on the floor four years ago. As a senior, Burton was at his best by averaging 20.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals a game.  His most impressive performance came in a January win at Fresno State when Burton put up 32 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks.

For his career, Burton averaged 16.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, four assists and 1.4 steals in 130 games.

Markel Brown, Oklahoma State: even though Brown earned plenty of minutes in his first three seasons with the Cowboys, improved shooting helped him have his best statistical year as a senior.  In 2013-14, Burton averaged 17.2 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field, 5.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, one steal and a block a game.  One of his best outings of the season came in a November win over South Florida when Brown totaled 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks.

For his career, Brown averaged 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and one steal in 134 games for the Cowboys.

Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: Kilpatrick earned All-American honors after a great senior year for the Bearcats when he averaged 20.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals a game.  He best all around game came in a February win over eventual National Champion Connecticut when Kilpatrick finished with 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, 12 rebounds and six assists.

For his career, Kilpatrick averaged 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, two assists an 1.2 steals in 140 games for Cincinnati.

Russ Smith, Louisville: after leading the Cardinals to the 2013 National Championship, Smith returned to school for his senior year and showed that he was more than just a scorer to earn consensus first team All-American.  In 2013-14, Smith averaged 18.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and two steals a game.  His best scoring game of the season came in a March win over Houston when Smith finished with 42 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-7 from behind the arc.

For his career, Smith averaged 14.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals in 133 games for Louisville.

Patric Young, Florida: although Young wasnt looked at as much of an offensive threat during his time with the Gators, he was able to score in double figures his last three seasons thanks to his ability to hit the offensive glass and finish at the rim.  As a senior, Young averaged 11 points on 54.1 percent shooting, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game.  His most impressive game of his last year at Florida came in a season ending loss to the Connecticut Huskies when Young scored 19 points and grabbed five boards.

For his career, Young averaged 8.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 150 games for the Gators.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse: even though the athletic wing scorer had his worst shooting season in his four years with the Orange, he did manage to average a career-high in scoring in his lone season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  As a senior, Fair averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals a game.  His best outing of the year came in a February win over Duke when Fair ended up with 28 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

For his career, Fair averaged 11.6 points, 5.7 points and 1.1 steals in 143 games.




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