It's March, college basketball has gone mad and it's time for NBA fans to pick out their favorite prospects to track through the next three weeks. Luckily, this has the potential to be a monstrous draft with quality deep into the first round ... provided that most of the best players exit from the college ranks.
Last year, a number of lottery prospects -- namely Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones -- elected to stay in school. That left NBA teams looking at a fairly weak lottery, and that's mostly been reflected in the 2011-12 season as there are as many top-10 rookies from beyond the lottery as there are from the top 10.
How is the lottery of the 2012 NBA Draft looking so far? SB Nation Dallas editor Jonathan Tjarks and I ran through the top 14 picks as they stood at the beginning of last week to plot out our first mock draft of the silly season. Let's dig in. Tjarks is up first.
1. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: ANTHONY DAVIS, KENTUCKY
Everyone already knows about his defensive ability: This is a guy who could conceivably challenge Kevin Durant's shot on the perimeter! However, teams at the top of the lottery will need to figure out his offensive potential. He's flashed glimpses of a low-post and dribble-drive game as well as a perimeter jumper, but the wealth of talent at Kentucky has made him mostly a role player on that side of the ball this season. -- Tjarks
2. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: ANDRE DRUMMOND, UCONN
He'd have gone No. 1 in perhaps every draft since the Oden-Durant double in 2007, even over Derrick Rose in 2008, and he already has a fricking MVP. That's how good Davis looks. As Tjarks wrote in early February, players with the physical attributes and skill level of Drummond are just extremely rare. Unlike the last thick center to come through the top of the draft, DeMarcus Cousins, there aren't concerns that Drummond will eat himself out of the league. And unlike Cousins, Drummond can soar. Just an incredible-looking prospect. -- Ziller
3. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: QUINCY MILLER, BAYLOR
There's a drop-off after the first two picks, whom NBA GM's would sacrifice their first-born for, which is why I'm going with the biggest sleeper in the draft here. Miller is 6'9, 200 pounds with a 7'4 wingspan, great ball-handling skills and an excellent jumper (shooting 46 percent from the field, 38 percent from the three-point arc and 80 percent from the free-throw line as a freshman). He's trapped on a poorly coached Baylor team, and he'll need to put on some weight and continue recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last year, but he has what Hubie Brown would call "tremendous upside potential." -- Tjarks
4. NEW JERSEY NETS: MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST, KENTUCKY
Kidd-Gilchrist became everyone's favorite non-Davis prospect right around the end of the SEC season, and it's conceivable that John Calipari will have to push him out of school to take advantage of his superlative stock. A high-motor, high-athleticism, high-IQ forward, MKG is the rare player who could absolutely fit into any lineup, no matter who they have on the roster. -- Ziller
5. DETROIT PISTONS: PERRY JONES III, BAYLOR
I'll never understand this mentality where we have to attack the character of a 20-year old for a poor performance. Lord forbid we point the finger at his coach for never pairing him with a true PG and playing a ludicrous 1-3-1 zone defense that has no place in high-level basketball. -- Tjarks
6. SACRAMENTO KINGS: HARRISON BARNES, NORTH CAROLINA
The Kings fan in me is mad for granting MKG to the Nets in this exercise, but a sharpshooting wing with size is exactly what the Kings need. John Salmons was so bad this season that new coach Keith Smart moved Tyreke Evans to small forward; putting Barnes, a Danny Granger type, there and moving Evans back to the backcourt could improve the offense and possibly the defense. -- Ziller
7. TORONTO RAPTORS: THOMAS ROBINSON, KANSAS
Robinson, a super-athletic 6'9, 240-pound forward who can control the backboards, is the perfect complement to Andrea Bargnani. More importantly, Robinson and last year's lottery pick, Jonas Valanciunas, should form an excellent front-court duo going forward. -- Tjarks
8. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: BRADLEY BEAL, FLORIDA
It's been a rough couple of years at shooting guard in the draft -- Paul George is still going to be a small forward, right? -- but Beal is a rare flower. While his shooting hasn't been as good as advertised coming out of high school, he creates a lot of shots and draws fouls well, something important for high-usage two-guards in the NBA. The Cavaliers are set only at point guard, and need a strong pick with what could be the club's last lottery pick for a spell. -- Ziller
9. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: JEREMY LAMB, UCONN
With a reported 7'1 wingspan, Lamb's monstrous reach, excellent ball-handling skills and quick release let him score points fairly effortlessly. Despite UConn's struggles this year, he's averaging 17.7 points on 48.1% shooting as a sophomore. He could provide instant offense for a Milwaukee team that's struggled on that side of the floor under Scott Skiles. -- Tjarks
10. UTAH JAZZ: AUSTIN RIVERS, DUKE
Rivers is a bit small, but his shooting percentages at Duke (.513 eFG, .562 TS%) are quite good for a shot creator and his lineage as the son of Doc Rivers actually matters to NBA decision-makers. Rivers will be battling Beal and Terrence Ross for top shooting guard taken; chances are that in the end, the Blue Devil lands it. We'll see if he can deliver in the NBA. -- Ziller
11. PHOENIX SUNS: TERRENCE JONES, KENTUCKY
Jones has had an up-and-down season adjusting to the presence of Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis, but his slide is as much a reflection of how deep this draft is. He would team up with Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris to form an excellent 4/5 rotation in Phoenix over the next few years. -- Tjarks
12. UTAH JAZZ: JOHN HENSON, NORTH CAROLINA
The Jazz are loaded up front -- two near All-Stars in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap starting, with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter on the bench -- but Henson shouldn't be available this far down. The Jazz should end up with two late lottery picks, unless the Warriors (who keep their own pick if it's in the top seven) tank hard or the Jazz make the playoffs. That's right: four lottery picks in two seasons. Kanter and Alec Burks were the pull last year. -- Ziller
13. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: TERRENCE ROSS, WASHINGTON
Ross has slipped under the national radar playing in the Pacific Northwest and next to a shoot-first PG in Tony Wroten, but he is a tremendous talent. He's an elite athlete, ballhandler and jump-shooter at 6'7, 200 pounds, and he's the perfect player to slot next to LaMarcus Aldridge. -- Tjarks
14. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: JARED SULLINGER, OHIO STATE
Wait, how did Sullinger slip down here? That's the issue with this draft: There's incredible parity after the top two. (If you aren't sold on Drummond, you could shrink the top tier to just Davis.) Sullinger could go No. 3 or, yes, No. 14. (OK, he's probably not slipping to No. 14. Or No. 10. Maybe not No. 8.) He's a deft scorer and rebounder, and has looked more like an NBA power forward physically this season due to some conditioning work in the offseason. And we're done writing off 6'9 big men, right?