2013 NBA Draft 7 p.m., ESPN

Breaking down UNC, Duke, N.C. State players before NBA draft

csmith@newsobserver.comJune 26, 2013 

College basketball teams in the Triangle have a long history of producing NBA players, from Finals standouts Danny Green and Shane Battier to greats Michael Jordan and Grant Hill. Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry; North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock; and N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell are among the local players who hope to be picked. Here is a breakdown on the local college draft hopefuls to watch.

Sure things

Mason Plumlee, Duke power forward, 6-10, 235 pounds

Breakdown: The Blue Devils big man was one of the best players in college basketball during his senior season, and was named a second team All-American. Plumlee has improved drastically in the last year but needs to work on his overall defense, free-throw shooting and footwork to make a lasting impact in the pros, according to draft watchers.

Career: The former McDonald’s All-America, NCAA champion and Pete Newell Big Man Award winner has done just about everything in the college game and his hard work should pay off on draft night. Plumlee averaged 17.1 points per game as a senior.

Draft prospects: Draft.net and CBSSports.com have Plumlee going in the first 20 picks.

Reggie Bullock, North Carolina shooting guard, 6-7, 200 pounds

Breakdown: The Kinston native decided to forgo his senior season at North Carolina for a chance to play in the NBA. Bullock is highly regarded as a smart player with a smooth stroke from behind the arc. Bullock has shown he can score from anywhere, but may lack the explosiveness to be more than a role player.

Career: Bullock improved during each of his three seasons as a Tar Heel, earning All-ACC second team honors as a junior. The former McDonald’s All-America and North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year played in 100 games for UNC, and as a junior averaged 13.9 points per game, scoring 20 or more in five of them.

Draft prospects: Might fall out of the first round.

Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State point guard, 6-5, 189 pounds

Breakdown: Brown came to N.C. State viewed as the lesser-talented recruit in a class that included C.J. Leslie and Ryan Harrow. After three seasons as a standout for the Wolfpack, the Roswell, Ga., native could go ahead of Leslie. Brown can play both the point and shooting guard positions. He has a penchant for creativity and has size and unselfishness at the point, but needs more strength and defense to excel in the NBA.

Career: The three-year player started as a shooting guard as a freshman, but moved to the point after Harrow transferred. Brown led the team in assists every year, finishing with 589 assists and 1,167 points.

Draft prospects: He could be a first-round pick.

C.J. Leslie, N.C. State power forward, 6-9, 209 pounds

Breakdown: Leslie came to N.C. State considered a potential first rounder if he were to enter the draft after his freshman season, but he never quite lived up to those expectations. The Holly Springs native decided to skip his senior season. Leslie’s athleticism has been his biggest attribute, but his focus has been questioned during his career.

Career: The three-year player averaged in double digits and just above seven rebounds per game during each season. Leslie came into his junior campaign as the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, but wound up a third-team selection behind teammates Richard Howell and Brown.

Draft prospects: Could fall to the second round.

Outside shots

Richard Howell, N.C. State power forward, 6-7, 250 pounds

Breakdown: Howell was one of the most consistent players for N.C. State during his junior and senior seasons and played 132 games during his four-year career. The Marietta, Ga., big man was never considered the best player on the court for the Wolfpack, but provided a spark for two NCAA tournament teams.

Career: The power forward showed steady improvement over his four seasons, eventually averaging a double-double with 12.7 points and 10.9 rebounds as a senior. Howell played in 30 or more games each season.

Draft prospects: On a few draft boards thanks to his strength and rebounding ability, but lack of athleticism and size for his position likely to limit his draft prospects.

Ryan Kelly, Duke power forward, 6-11, 230 pounds

Breakdown: The Raleigh native has been a role player for most of his career in Durham, but enjoyed two straight double-digit scoring seasons that have him on a few draft boards in the late second round. Kelly’s smooth stroke and shooting accuracy are pluses, but his speed and strength, along with a broken foot that required offseason surgery, have kept his draft stock down.

Career: Kelly’s shooting from behind the arc and ability to rebound played a crucial role in Duke’s No. 1 ranking and eventual run to the Elite Eight in this past season’s NCAA tournament.

Draft prospects: Aran Smith of NBAdraft.net ranks the hybrid forward as the No. 49 player in the draft – 20 spots ahead of Howell.

Seth Curry, Duke shooting guard, 6-3, 179 pounds

Breakdown: The son of Dell Curry and brother of Stephen Curry, Seth was able to live up to expectations with a great jumper from the perimeter and the ability to create his own shot. Still recovering from a shin injury, Curry was not able to work out for teams.

Career: The Liberty transfer battled through injuries during his senior year, but still averaged 17.5 points and shot 46.5 percent from 3-point range – both career highs while at Duke.

Draft prospects: May go undrafted, but could wind up signing as an undrafted free agent.

Smith: 919-829-4841; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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