The ACC’s finest and of course, some of Carolina’s will feature heavily in the 2014 NBA Draft set to get underway Thursday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
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Duke’s Jabari Parker has Joel Embiid to thank if he snags the top pick in this year’s NBA draft. Embiid, the standout freshman sensation at Kansas a season ago, has seen his stock slide due to his foot injury.
Regardless, Parker is set to make an immediate impact at the next level. The Cavaliers will have their eyes firmly set on Parker and another Jayhawk, Andrew Wiggins, for the top pick.
Another ACC star who should come off the draft boards early Thursday night is N.C. State’s T.J. Warren. Tar Heel fans will likely never forget the stunning duel between the Wolfpack star and UNC point guard Marcus Paige at PNC Arena in Raleigh a season ago.
Warren, who averaged 25 points per game last season, has made his final curtain call in ACC action, but most experts have the ACC Player of the Year’s draft stock rising thanks to his exceptional workouts.
Expect a team like the Orlando Magic, who could use a dynamic wing player, to nab Warren with the No. 12 selection.
Another intriguing prospect from Tobacco Road is the embattled P.J. Hairston. Hairston spent last season lighting up the NBA Development League in Texas. While there, he shot 45.3 percent from the floor and 87 percent at the free-throw line.
The Greensboro native will be hoping to squeeze into the lottery picks, but it’s more probable to see Hairston going somewhere between 15-24 in the selections.
By the way, the Charlotte Hornets are in need of some explosive offense and notably, have pick No. 24. So don’t rule out a short trip down to Charlotte for Hairston.
Duke’s Rodney Hood is expected to go early as well. At 6’8”, Hood has the size and shooting ability to attract general managers across the nation. Expect Hood to go somewhere in the 8-14 pick window.
Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels is another top prospect on this year’s draft board. His athleticism will have a lot of team executives salivating. McDaniels will likely sneak into the top 20 Thursday night.
The difference between being selected in the first and second round is huge. Getting picked in the first round guarantees a contract. Second-round selections aren’t promised anything.
And that’s why James Michael McAdoo’s decision to forego his senior season at Carolina was so puzzling. No analysts or draft gurus have the former Tar Heel going in the first round.
It should be a night mixed with suspense, relief, and celebration for many of the ACC’s brightest lights. All the hard work could pay off big-time with a dream realized and a massive check in tow.
They’ve thrilled fans everywhere with their sparkling play at the collegiate level, but the final chapter in their basketball career is set to begin.