Diamond Stone is a perfect example of why the new NCAA guidelines on declaring for the draft are infinitely better than the old version.
That said, the Maryland freshman center will test the waters, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
A year ago Stone would be coming up on a hard-and-fast deadline — declare and you’re committed to the NBA draft. This year, Stone is declaring, but by not taking on an agent he can get evaluations from NBA teams on his draft stock then make an informed decision on staying in the draft or returning to college.
Stone is projected as a late first-round pick; DraftExpress.com has him going 23rd. Players selected in the first round of the draft get guaranteed deals in the NBA for at least two seasons (and most times a third and fourth year are picked up by the team). However, if he were to slip to the second round (just eight spots) he would have no guarantee of an NBA roster spot or money.
As the season went on, Stone became a force in the middle for Maryland, giving them strong play on both ends of the floor. At 6’11” and 255 pounds, Stone can be an imposing figure in the post, and he showed impressive skill and footwork for his age. He uses his body well to make his way to the basket, and he has no problem getting physical when hitting the offensive boards. Stone built a good on-court rapport with point guard Melo Trimble, and the duo became very tough to stop in pick-and-roll situations, as well as Stone getting open space around the basket off of Trimble’s penetration. Defensively, other than what seemed like normal freshman lapses, Stone more than held his own in a conference with some quality big men.
That sounds like the kind of guy who has a game that fits in the NBA, the kind of player who climbs draft boards, not slides down them. But Stone will hear from the people doing the drafting, then get to make his call.