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NBA Draft: Examples of how staying in school can affect draft stock

For every 10 athletes who gladly skate down the professional path, there's an outlier who chooses to forgo the payday and remain an amateur, at least for a year. Here's a look at how that worked out for Blake Griffin, Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Sam Bradford.
BY ANTHONY SLATER Published: April 3, 2013

Using recent history as a predictor, smart money remains on Marcus Smart to take the money.

That's what talented and highly projected underclassmen typically do.

Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and others did it last year. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and many more exercised that right in the recent past.

But for every 10 who gladly skate down the professional path, there's an outlier who chooses to forgo the payday and remain an amateur, at least for a year. Ask those in the know, and they insist that's still a viable option for Smart.

So, as a guide, here's four examples of those rare cases, with differing results:

Stock rose

Player: Blake Griffin

Year: 2008

Situation: After a stellar freshman season, where he averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds, Griffin was viewed as a consensus top-10 pick, even creeping into the top three in some projections. His eye-popping athleticism screamed future NBA star. But Griffin held out, choosing to return to Norman for his sophomore season.

Quote: “Most college basketball players, their dream their whole life is to play in the NBA, to take it to the next level, take it to that next step. That is something that is hard to turn down. But at the same time, I know personally I wouldn't be content just with going to the NBA and just sitting on the bench watching other guys play." — Griffin said at the time

Result: As a seasoned sophomore, Griffin dominated the Big 12, upping his averages to 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds and easily snatching the National Player of the Year award. He declared for the NBA Draft after OU's season ended in the Elite Eight and was selected first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers. He's already a three-time All-Star with a five-year, $95 million contract.

 Stock plummeted

Player: Jared Sullinger

Year: 2011

Situation: Throughout that 2010-11 season, Sullinger was the talk of college basketball, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds for the 32-2 Ohio State Buckeyes (ranked No. 1 for a majority of the year). He won National Freshman of the Year (the same honor Marcus Smart recently received) and was projected as a high lottery pick. But Sullinger skipped the immediate payday and returned to OSU, citing a desire to avenge the Buckeyes disappointing Sweet 16 exit and win a national title.

Quote: “That's exactly why he's coming back. He's coming back because his goal is to win a national championship. He's won AAU and high school championships, and he wants to win a national championship.” — Satch Sullinger (Jared's father) to at the time

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