The NBA Draft can be an escape hatch for underclassmen who may be tired of all those annoying distractions, like class and books and assignments, and who just want to focus on basketball. Last June 47 players made an early entrance into the draft; and 20 of those failed to make an NBA roster.
Meanwhile, a crop of high-profile and talented players did decide to return to school, resisting the lure of those million-dollar paychecks:
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Smart's decision to return to Stillwater came to many observers as a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/2013-college-basketball-preview_n_4213866.html" target="_blank">massive surprise</a>. After a terrific freshman campaign, he becomes the first unanimous preseason All-American since Ohio State's Jared Sullinger. While he will have to improve on 29 percent shooting from three and a 21 percent turnover rate, Smart is a potential top-five pick next June.
Mitch McGary, Michigan
McGary wowed everyone with his energy and prowess during Michigan's run to the national championship game. He would have been a surefire lottery pick last June but opted to return to school. This season, with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. gone to the NBA, McGary is set to be Michigan's true go-to guy.
Doug McDermott, Creighton
After playing with Harrison Barnes in high school, McDermott has had a remarkably productive college career. Now a senior, his efficiency (46 percent career from three) is off the charts, and he can score from anywhere (23 points per game last season). Creighton's move to the Big East will help him demonstrate to the country that he can play with the big boys.
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Robinson would have been a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft after a solid, if not spectacular, freshman year (averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds per game) on a loaded Michigan team. Like his father was, he is a smooth and versatile scorer who can mix it up in the paint and has a tremendous vertical leap. Along with McGary and sharpshooter Nik Stauskas, Robinson has the opportunity to put up big numbers this season.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
As a junior on last season's Final Four squad, Fair averaged a team-best 15 points per game. Now, with Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland gone to the NBA, Fair should assert himself as one of the premier power forwards in college basketball.
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