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Draft Trends: Underclassmen who declare almost always drafted

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Those who opt to leave school early for the NBA are usually making the right choice. (USATSI)

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We hear plenty of people lament the choices made by college hoops underclassmen who opt to cut out of college in order to make money playing pro.

But in reality, players bouncing early and declaring for the draft aren't hurting themselves. At least not in the short term. Our latest Draft Trends piece examines early entry players in the one-and-done era, with a look at how the success rate compares to the final year of high school-age eligibility, which was 2005.

There's more explanation and data and 2014 comparisons below, but here's the hard data.

Turns out, players are mostly getting the right advice. There are a few misguided souls each year, but we're not looking at heaps of unpicked players.

Only 7.4 percent of all underclassmen in the past nine years haven't been picked. When you eliminate 2005 -- the last year of high school eligibility -- from the equation, the percentage drops to 6.5.

Point is, in most cases, players are getting the right advice -- and freshmen that have the guts to go are picked every single season, with one exception: Jereme Richmond (Illinois, 2011). Within the context of the draft itself, and where they get picked, it's a more nuanced discussion. Sometimes leaving and getting picked in the second round might not be the right decision -- but you never know because staying a year/improving stock is a what-if.

Other times, sticking around with high stock and waiting a year can lead to getting picked lower, but players in that position are almost always top-20 players that never fall out of the first round anyway.

This year, here's the entire crop of underclassmen heading into the NBA Draft. There are 45 players, 42 from United States/D-I schools.

Comparing that list that with who's predicted to be drafted among our three mock drafts at CBSSports.com, here are the names left off by all three of our experts:

  • Mychal Ammons, South Alabama
  • Chane Behanan, Louisville
  • Eric Moreland, Oregon State
  • Alex Kirk, New Mexico
  • Jakarr Sampson, St. John's
  • Roscoe Smith, UNLV

The omission list comes out to eight, but these two players do get a nod in at least one of our mock drafts:

  • Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State
  • Khem Birch, UNLV

Let's just say either Bhullar or Birch gets taken. That comes out to seven out of 45. What's interesting is how the trend is building back up. Having more than 40 names eligible is an all-time high in the one-and-done era, and if seven players missed oudt, that comes out ot 16.6 percent -- which would be lower than last year's snub rate but the second-highest since 2005.

Overall, in the one-and-done era, 11.5 percent of underclassmen who've declared have not been selected. That number matches them up against the entire draft class, so it's essentially 1 in 10. It's not perfect, but we're not dealing with an epidemic. While some players can get some bad advice, in the bigger picture of the modern era, players with the potential are making the right choice by opting to leave when they do.

 
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