Maryland freshman center Diamond Stone is projected to be taken No. 11 overall in the latest edition of DraftExpress.com's 2016 NBA mock draft, released on Thursday.
That projection puts Stone back in the lottery after he had slipped into the early 20s earlier this season.
Stone has progressed rapidly over the first 17 games of the 2015-16 season. Much of that can be attributed to how head coach Mark Turgeon has decided to use him, bringing him off the bench instead of keeping him in the starting lineup as he was to begin the season.
Off the bench, Stone is able to avoid early foul trouble, get a feel for the game, and regulate the Maryland rotation to pair him with a player like Michal Cekovsky who complements his skill set.
NBA front-office personnel less and less look at raw stats and instead use efficiency numbers to project a player's talent at the next level. By that measure, his offensive statistics are impressive. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 25.0 points and 10.6 rebounds while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.
He has also improved defensively, now posting a defensive rating of 94.2 per 100 possessions.
The ceiling for Stone, especially offensively, is high. Because of his efficiency in the post, he has been primarily an interior bruiser at the college level, despite coming into college with a reputation as a player who can stretch the floor.
But it is clear that he has serious potential as a stretch-big. He is shooting 78.7 percent from the line on 4.4 attempts per game. A high percentage like that is often a good indicator of the promise in a big man's ability to stretch the floor with more development.
Elsewhere in DraftExpress.com's projection, sophomore guard Melo Trimble slips slightly to No. 23 overall and senior forward Jake Layman slips to No. 38 overall.