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Early Entry: The head scratchers

Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - Oregon State v Washington State

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Jared Cunningham #1 of the Oregon State Beavers blocks a shot by Brock Motum #12 of the Washington State Cougars during the first round of the Pac12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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Read through the rest of our Early Entry breakdowns here.

Will Barton, Memphis: Let me preface this by saying that I like Will Barton. A lot. He plays hard. He’s a competitor. He’s quotable and honest and interesting to write about. And he’s got all the tools to be an NBA wing. He’s athletic, he’s got long arms and he’s legitimately 6-foot-6 in shoes. The problem? Where does he play at the next level? He’s not a great ball-handler. He’s not a great shooter. He can jump passing lanes, but he’s not a dedicated on-ball defender. And he’s not a first round pick this season. With his god-given physical abilities, Barton could have returned to school and earned himself a guaranteed contract by diversifying him offensive repertoire.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State: Cunningham is an NBA level defender. There’s no question about that. He’s also an NBA level athlete, as his ability to elevate has been well-documented on youtube and his first-step quickness made him nearly impossible to defend at the collegiate level. The problem is on the offensive end of the floor. Cunningham has a long way to go before he can do much of anything at the NBA level. He’s not a good enough ball-handler or passer to play the point. He’s not a good enough shooter to play the two. And he’s all of 6-foot-3. Another year of developing his game offensively could have slid him up into the first round in 2013.

Khris Middleton, Texas A&M: The only explanation here is that Middleton had some sort of disconnect with the new coaching staff at A&M. He likely wouldn’t have been a first round pick after his breakout sophomore season and followed that up with a junior season that was plagued by injury. I don’t expect him to get drafted.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: Thompson is yet another guy with the physical tools to carve out a career as a wing player in the league that doesn’t quite have the skills to get himself into the first round. At 6-foot-7, Thompson is a lights-out shooter. That much we know. He’s also a guy that plays within himself; he knows he’s not a great penetrator, so he doesn’t try to do much more than spot-up and bury jumpers. But can he defend at the NBA level? That is where his stock will be determined. There is a reason that guys like James Posey and Bruce Bowen have elongated careers.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.