UNC's Williams could be No. 1 overall

Originally Published: January 14, 2005
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Every year less than a handful of college freshmen bolt and come to the NBA with extremely mixed success. With the influx of high school players coming straight to the NBA, scouts say that most of the guys who really don't want to play in college just avoid the process.

"I think the reason that you don't see a lot of college freshmen declaring is that they actually want the college experience," one scout said. "Most of the kids who could be first-rounders could've been first rounders after their senior year in high school as well. They made the choice to get an education and work on their game at this level. That's why very few of them leave after just one year."

The kids who do leave after one collegiate season usually fall into one of three categories. They either wanted to declare after their senior season of high school but weren't projected to go high enough in the draft (like Dajuan Wagner, Zach Randolph, Kris Humphries, DerMarr Johnson, Trevor Ariza), had trouble remaining eligible for collegiate play (like Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom), or they're kids who wanted to go to school but an unbelievable freshman season or tournament performance put them so high in the lottery that they would have been crazy not to make the jump (see Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Corey Maggette, Rodney White and Eddie Griffin).

A look at the group of freshmen above will reveal that while a few have found instant success, most of them struggled for years before achieving NBA success. Some of them (Johnson, White, Griffin) have watched their careers fizzle.

There have never been more than three freshmen taken in the first round of an NBA draft. A survey of scouts identified only five players whom they felt had a chance to be ready for the first round this year.

Here's a quick look at five freshman the scouts will be watching this season.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer