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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

A post-draft look at this year’s best and worst NBA early entry decisions

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Vander Blue (Getty Images)

In the first few weeks after the college season is over, the nation's top underclassmen must decide whether to return to school or enter the NBA draft.

The morning after the draft is as good a time as any to evaluate those decisions.

Marquette's Vander Blue or Memphis' Adonis Thomas might have woken up regretting their decisions to leave school. Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Miami's Shane Larkin are probably feeling pretty good about theirs. Here's a full look at the best and worst of this year's early-entry decisions:

WORST EARLY-ENTRY DECISIONS:

1. Vander Blue, G, Marquette

Comment: Had Blue returned to Marquette for his senior season, he could have worked on his erratic jump shot and been the centerpiece of a team capable of contending for the Big East title. Instead Blue went undrafted and will either have to try to scratch his way onto an NBA roster as a free agent or take a year or two in the D-League or overseas to try to improve his perimeter shooting.

2. Adonis Thomas, F, Memphis

Comment: Once considered one of the elite recruits in the Class of 2011, Thomas' stock dropped after a solid but unspectacular freshman season and plummeted after an even more underwhelming sophomore campaign. He should have returned to school after he shot just 40.7 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from behind the arc, but instead he gambled and paid the price by going undrafted.

3. Ricky Ledo, G, Providence.

Comment: By sitting out as a freshman at Providence with academic issues and turning pro without ever playing a college game, Ledo surely fed into preexisting concerns about his character and maturity level. His immense talent still persuaded Dallas to trade up to get him at No. 43 in the second round, but the 6-foot-6 shooting guard could have gone much higher had he returned to Providence and proved himself.

4. B.J. Young, G, Arkansas

Comment: When his shooting percentage and clip from behind the arc both plummeted as a sophomore, that should have been a clue to Young that he needed to return for one more year at Arkansas. Instead he stuck with his plan to leave after his sophomore year and met the same fate as fellow Razorbacks standout Marshawn Powell, both of whom were not selected.

Others: C.J. Aiken (St. Joseph's), C.J. Leslie (NC State), Dewayne Dedmon (USC), Phil Pressey (Missouri)

BEST EARLY-ENTRY DECISIONS

1. Kentavious Caldwell Pope, G, Georgia

Comment: If Caldwell-Pope went back and forth on his decision to leave Georgia after his sophomore season, then he should be very glad he ultimately opted to turn pro. The sweet-shooting wing soared up draft boards in recent weeks, going from a fringe first-round pick all the way to No. 8 overall to Detroit.

2. Shane Larkin, G, Miami

Comment: Larkin was the final marquee player to announce his intention to enter the draft, but going No. 18 overall certainly validated his decision. Had he returned to a Miami team with few proven scorers back, he easily could have faced double teams off screen and rolls and found it more difficult to match his 2012-13 production.

3. Tony Snell, G, New Mexico

Comment: Since Snell had yet to enjoy a true breakout season and New Mexico brought back most of the key pieces from last year's Mountain West championship team, it was a bit surprising to see the junior turn pro. Snell being selected 20th by the Bulls surely made him feel better about his decision. NBA teams recognized his length, deep range and defensive prowess could be assets off the bench.

4. Grant Jerrett, F, Arizona

Comment: Everyone mocked Grant Jerrett – myself included – when he turned pro despite averaging 5.2 points per game as a freshman, but it doesn't look so ridiculous after Portland gambled on him at No. 40 overall. Jerrett would have had a hard time improving his stock dramatically had he returned to college because Arizona's frontcourt is loaded with top talent at the forward position.

Others: Trey Burke and C.J. McCollum for entering the draft in 2013 rather than 2012 when they were fringe first rounders.

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