Top 5 NBA Basketball Draft Prospects for 2014

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As some of the best basketball players in the nation enter their freshman or sophomore years of college, their minds may not be on academics. Instead, they’re looking forward to 2014, when they can choose to enter the NBA Draft. For the world’s elite players, being chosen near the top of the first round is the apex of a lifetime’s work. All they need to do is keep their heads in the game until their name is called.

5 Andrew Harrison, Kentucky

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One of the most-recruited guards in the country, 6-foot-5-inch Andrew Harrison, from Travis High in Fort Bend, TX, is of five 2013 All-Americans who committed to Kentucky for their freshman years. Along with his counterpart Randle, Harrison is likely to get an NBA nod after his freshman year with the Wildcats. Harrison is known for his ferocious presence on the court. His ego, however—he claims he’d best Michael Jordan in a one-on-one match-up—could get in his way.

4 Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

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At just 6-foot-3—or 6-foot-4, the stats vary, probably based on shoes—guard Marcus Smart will likely be the shortest prospect picked in the top 15 of the 2014 Draft. His excellent hoop skills should, in fact, easily land him a spot in the top five. After a stellar freshman year with Oklahoma State, which got Smart the nod for AP Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year, Smart’s powerful build and competitive nature could land him an NBA contract after his sophomore season.

3 Jabari Parker, Duke

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Draft analysts are all over the board with Jabari Parker: Some have him going as early as second overall, others see him waiting until fifth or sixth. Regardless of when he’s picked, critics agree that the forward from Simeon High—Chicago’s NBA factory—is talented. One of the reasons behind the analytical waffling is an injury Parker suffered during his senior year. He put on weight and lost some tone during his recuperation. The 6-foot-7-inch Parker will need to get back in shape for his freshman year at Duke, in order to keep his high rank as a draft prospect.

2 Julius Randle, Kentucky

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After Wiggins, draft prognosticators are in less agreement about how the rest of the 2014 prospects shake out. While not exactly a consensus, Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9-inch power forward who has committed to the University of Kentucky, has the edge on the No. 2 spot. Analysts are impressed with his ball-handling skills and grace on the court, especially in light of his size. Despite his height and sheer power, defensive fundamentals are a weakness for Randle.

1 Andrew Wiggins, University of Kansas

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Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-8-inch forward who is a 2013 graduate of Huntington Prep, has committed to the Kansas Jayhawks and—barring some unforeseen accident or issue—is the pundits’ top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Analyses of Wiggins’ talent, from sources such as ESPN and NBA Draft Room, are suffused with breathless supposition about his athletic divinity: Originally from Toronto, he is the son of a former first-round NBA draft pick and an Olympic silver medalist in track.

Trent Jonas accepted his first freelance assignment in 1988 from "The Minnesota Daily" and has been writing professionally ever since, primarily as a copywriter. He has experience in advertising and entrepreneurship, as well as writing on legal and travel topics. Jonas has a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from the University of Minnesota and a Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law.

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