While cautionary tales of underclassmen who leave school for the lure of NBA riches, only to tumble down draft boards and flame out (we're looking at you Chris Taft) may seem legion, it's usually the opposite problem that plagues top prospects: staying around too long as scouts nitpick their games.
ESPN's draft/player development guru David Thorpe explains:
Which brings us to the second-biggest myth, one used by college coaches every year, that "going back to school helps your draft stock." I love to joke that in the current draft year, there are 60 likely second-round picks, but next year there are 90 first-rounders. [...]
[But] for every Tyler Hansbrough, there is a Craig Brackins or Willie Warren. Gordon Hayward and Kyle Singler could absolutely return to school, have better seasons and meet again in the Final Four. And those events could improve their draft stock, without a doubt. But they could also go back to school, have all those same things happen and not improve their stock at all. And it's easy to see the risk of a poor season or an injury. There are many reasons to go back to school, but doing so because it has to help your draft stock is not one of them.
Indeed, when it comes to Hayward, at least testing the draft waters now is clearly the best choice for him personally. An analysis over at The Wages of Wins found that players whose teams make the Final Four can have their draft stock improve as much as 12 spots -- but only if they leave the same year their team makes the national semifinals. For a player like Hayward, now projected somewhere from the late-lottery to mid-first round, that means moving off the first-round bubble and into the upper reaches of the draft.
Now we'll see if Kyle Singler will follow suit and capitalize off the Blue Devils' title game triumph.