Top 5 NBA Basketball Draft Prospects for 2014

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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.

Top 5 Greatest Boxers of All Time Top 5 Greatest Boxers of All Time