Cassius Winston was a senior at Michigan State. Udoka Azubuike was a senior at Kansas. Payton Pritchard was a senior at Kansas.
LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton – as old-enough American-born players who completed professional contracts outside the NBA – were automatically eligible.
Otherwise, practically every first-round prospect had to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft.
The NBA allows players to withdraw until 10 days before the draft (whenever that will be). The NCAA typically has an earlier withdrawal deadline for maintaining eligibility, though everything is in flux amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For now, here are all 205 early entrants (163 players from the American system and 42 international players):
Tulane guard Teshaun Hightower, who announced he was declaring for the draft and was since charged with murder, was not included.
Jalen Smith was Maryland’s first AP All-American in a decade.
Now, the sophomore is taking the next step – to the NBA draft.
Smith will probably go in the first round, maybe even somewhere in the middle. But he could also slip into the second round.
At 6-foot-10, Smith will likely settle in as a center in the NBA, especially as he continues to bulk up. He’s just not mobile enough to consistently defend power forwards. Heck, his defense in space will still be a concern at center. That’s a flaw that can make bigs unplayable in the modern NBA.
Otherwise, there’s plenty to like about Smith.
He can run pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops, developing into a quality 3-point shooter this season. He has even show ability to shoot on the move from distance.
Smith doesn’t pass much, and his ball-handling forays are uninspiring. But he makes up for it with active screening, on and off the ball.
He checks all the boxes with interior defense. Smith blocks shots and rebounds well, putting his leaping ability to good use on both fronts.
A productive defensive big who shoots 3-pointers? Smith won’t fall too far until a team appreciates his strengths and hopes to figure out the rest.