Players from mid-major schools are the new hot commodity in the NBA draft after the emergence of Damian Lillard. Lillard unanimously won the Rookie of the Year award this season after playing his college ball at Weber State.
Now with a new class of players preparing for the draft, there are certainly some quality players from mid-majors this year that can make an immediate impact.
Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Currently projected as the third overall pick by DraftExpress, Bennett is an explosive big man that is ready to make his name known in the NBA.
Bennett averaged 16 points and eight boards for the Runnin' Rebels last year. At 6'8" and 240 pounds, he's a bit undersized. But he shot over 50 percent from the field in 2012-13 and can provide instant offense.
What sets Bennett apart from the field, though, is his shot-blocking ability. He had nine games with three or more blocks last season and averaged 1.2 per game.
His draft stock may take a bit of a hit, as it's being reported by Chad Ford of ESPN that he will have surgery on a torn rotator cuff that will take four months to heal. However, he is expected to be 100 percent healed in that time frame.
Jay Williams @RealJayWilliams
UNLV forward Anthony Bennett out 4 months. Surgery on left rotator cuff is today. #NBADraft5/8/2013, 3:22:33 PM
Bennett will likely fit in with a team that has a taller center to make up for his lack of height. However, he is a strong big man that can shoot the ball effectively and plays great defense. He'll certainly be a lottery pick.
Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
Tony Mitchell is a special talent out of North Texas. He can shoot from virtually anywhere on the floor and possesses tremendous athleticism.
Projected as a late first-round pick by most mock drafts, Mitchell can provide an X-factor to any team that picks him up.
At 6'8" and 235 pounds, Mitchell is somewhat small for the power forward position in the league. But he may be better suited as a hybrid type of forward because of his ability to shoot the ball.
Last season, he averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game. Not eye-popping numbers, but the team around him wasn't exactly up to the task of providing Mitchell with opportunities to succeed.
In 2011-12, Mitchell made nearly 40 percent of his three-pointers. That number dipped down to 30 percent last season, but he certainly possesses the skill to hit the outside jumper.
If Mitchell can show his abilities to the fullest at the combine, his stock may even rise to the level of a potential lottery pick.
Jamaal Franklin, G, San Diego State
A 6'5", 205-pound prospect out of San Diego State, Jamaal Franklin has the skill set to be an incredible hybrid guard in the league.
Franklin averaged 17 points and 9.5 rebounds with the Aztecs last year. He had 13 double-doubles and a game where he tallied 20 points and 18 rebounds against Fresno State as well.
In that game against Fresno State, Franklin had an off-the-backboard dunk that was the top play on SportsCenter's Top 10.
For such a light player, Franklin plays like someone five inches taller than he actually is and 80 pounds heavier.
That kind of attitude on a rookie is rare, so Franklin could be a great late first-round pickup.
While Franklin pulls down a lot of rebounds, he also can shoot the ball. He shot over 40 percent from the field the last two seasons and shot 50 percent in 2010-11.
Teams will probably want to put some meat onto Franklin's bones. If he can maintain the same athleticism with added muscle, Franklin could quietly become one of the most physically imposing players out of this year's class.