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2014 NBA Draft: Breaking Down the Top 30 SEC Basketball Players’ NBA Potential

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2014 NBA Draft: Breaking Down the Top 30 SEC Basketball Players’ NBA Potential

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

With the Super Bowl finally over, the American sporting world's eyes turn to college basketball. With college basketball taking center stage, many of the sport's followers are interested in how some of the players can affect their favorite NBA team in the near future. The SEC is one of the many conferences in college basketball that has the potential to drastically change the future of the NBA.

The SEC is filled with top college basketball talent; nine teams from the conference are ranked in the top 100 RPI. That’s more than a majority of college basketball conferences, yet the SEC still seems to be swept under the rug as much of the media believes the conference only deserves three or four 2014 NCAA Tournament berths. Whether it’s fair or not to give the benefit of the doubt to conferences like the Big 10, ACC and the Big 12 where teams beat up on each other just like the SEC, that doesn’t matter to NBA scouts when looking at how players might have success at the next level.

It helps if a team makes the NCAA tournament, but in the end what it really comes down to is how well they play all year long. The SEC may not have more than four representing teams in the upcoming 2014 NCAA Tournament, but they’ll have a lot of players attempting to make NBA rosters after the 2014 NBA Draft.

There are many players on this list who won’t be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft and will have to work their way into the top professional basketball league in the world through the D-league or overseas, but there are also many who could be selected in the first round. Here are 30 SEC basketball players who might be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft and you might one day see in the NBA.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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30. Bobby Portis - Arkansas Razorbacks

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Portis is going to play in the NBA. He’s built like an NBA athlete and has proven he’s a top freshman in the country time and time again. However, I think he’ll wait a year or two before going out because Mike Anderson will be able to help him expand his game and have more success at the next level. He’s low on this list due to the likelihood that he’ll stay in college.

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29. Rashad Madden - Arkansas Razorbacks

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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Madden is a junior, and I expect him to stay another season because Arkansas should be a favorite to go to the 2015 NCAA Tournament. However, the surprise exit of Marshawn Powell last season means that you never know who might bail from Arkansas. He shows promise for the future.

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28. Rod Odom - Vanderbilt Commodores

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Because he plays for Vanderbilt you’ve probably never heard of him. The Commodores lost three of their four best players from the previous season and were expected to finish close to last in the SEC. Odom’s success has helped lead Vanderbilt to a surprising top 100 RPI. I don’t see the NBA in his future, but he could definitely be looked at by multiple teams.

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27. Charles Mann - Georgia Bulldogs

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, Mann is a good size for an NBA guard. Unfortunately, playing at Georgia will not be in his favor, and his only hope of making an NBA team would be to show out in Summer League. Luckily, he’s just a sophomore.

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26. Trevor Releford - Alabama Crimson Tide

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Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Releford doesn’t get enough credit for carrying Alabama like he does. With the transfer of Trevor Lacy last season, the Crimson Tide have looked absolutely lost. At times you can see the look of frustration on Releford’s face as he gets no help from the rest of his team. He won’t be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft, but he could be picked up as an undrafted free agent and surprise a lot of people with how talented he is when other talented players are around him.

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25. Jarvis Summers - Ole Miss Rebels

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Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

A 6-foot-3 guard that has consistently remained averaging around four assists per game throughout his career has stepped it up this season, averaging 17 points a game as well. Summers could be an undrafted free agent signing that gets a lot of time in D-league team as he develops.

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24. KT Harrell - Auburn Tigers

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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

KT Harrell is a fantastic shooter, but he can be inconsistent at times. With fellow Tiger Chris Denson being a senior, he could leave and go to the NBA or abroad in order to avoid being on the downward spiral that is Auburn basketball.

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23. Earnest Ross - Missouri Tigers

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At 6-foot-5 ,228-pounds, Ross is rather large for a guard. However, he’s a Jack-of-all-trades and could be developed into a bench player for an NBA team eventually or have success overseas.

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22. Jeronne Maymon - Tennessee Volunteers

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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Maymon was a beast before his season-ending injury last year, but he has been plagued by missed layups ever since. He continues to be one of the best offensive rebounders in the country and will get looked at by NBA teams on that alone, because offensive rebounding is one of the college statistics that transitions to the NBA very well.

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21. Chris Denson - Auburn Tigers

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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to talk about the best scorers in the SEC without Denson’s name coming up. Averaging 19.5 points a game, there hasn’t been a team to really shut him down all season long. He’ll get looked at by a few NBA scouts if he keeps up this scoring form.

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20. Marshall Henderson - Ole Miss Rebels

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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Henderson isn’t the right size for the NBA, but can you really ignore what he’s done during his time at Ole Miss? I get it; making it in the NBA is as much about genetics as it is about talent, and Henderson lost the NBA genetic lottery. However, with his ability to take contested threes over just about anybody, it would seem kind of strange not to at least give him a chance in the D-league. I have a feeling Henderson will end up being a major star overseas.

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19. Jabari Brown - Missouri Tigers

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Averaging 20 points is extremely difficult for any player in the SEC. Even more impressive were his 33 points against the Kentucky Wildcats. NBA Scouts will have seen how he dominated against many future first round NBA players and will wait to make a judgment after his NBA combine performance.

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18. Casey Prather - Florida Gators

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’m huge on Prather’s ability at the next level. Arguably the most improved player in the SEC over the past few years, he gets better and better as the season goes on. He could get on the NBA Draft radar if the Gators manage to make it to the Final Four.

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17. Jordan McRae - Tennessee Volunteers

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Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

I love McRae, but he needs to get more consistent before he’d have success in the NBA. He’s got an NBA shooter's body and length but will need a few years in the D-league or overseas to develop. In the offseason he trained with Kevin Durant and LeBron James so he has a fantastic work ethic, and that’s something you can’t teach a player. If a team can get him late in the draft or as a free agent he could develop into something special down the road.

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16. Marcus Lee - Kentucky Wildcats

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Lee’s fallen under the bus with the success of most of the starting Kentucky players, but he is still a legitimate future NBA presence. We’ll see what he does in the future as well as the NBA combine. I feel like Lee and possibly Dakari Johnson could elect to remain in college for another year.

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15. Patric Young - Florida Gators

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Young is sort of an enigma when it comes to his NBA potential. Consistently averaging 10 points and six rebounds for three years, everyone’s been waiting for him to have that breakout stretch. However, it’ll be hard for NBA teams to ignore his 6-foot-9, 240-pound frame.

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14. Dakari Johnson - Kentucky Wildcats

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Rarely doing much for Kentucky, Johnson hasn’t really proven himself at the collegiate yet. However, at 7-foot, 265 pounds, his potential at the next level is ridiculous. A team will definitely take a chance on him.

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13. Kasey Hill - Florida Gators

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Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Hill is extremely talented and could definitely make an NBA bench fairly early on in his career, but I think he’ll stay another year with the Gators, especially if they come close to the National Championship.

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12. Jordan Clarkson - Missouri Tigers

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Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Clarkson is an elite scorer in college basketball and can switch into facilitator mode very easily. He could be a player that shows out in the NBA combine and gets on a few NBA teams’ radars.

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11. Alex Poythress - Kentucky Wildcats

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Poythress deserves to win sixth man of the year for the SEC. He’s also made some extremely mature decisions; how many players with his talent would accept a bench role? NBA scouts have to love his team mentality.

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10. Jarrell Martin - LSU Tigers

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Martin should stay another year with LSU. Is he a future NBA player? Yes, but I think he could use a little more playing time at the collegiate level. He’s not high on my list, but he’s high on most NBA scouts’ boards.

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9. Johnny O'Bryant III - LSU Tigers

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Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

O’Bryant III is one of the most underrated players in the country. He seems to dominate against every team LSU plays except Tennessee. I’d like to see him stay another year and help LSU make a 2015 NCAA tournament run, but it’ll be hard to resist the allure of the NBA.

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8. Jarnell Stokes - Tennessee Volunteers

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There isn’t a better player in college basketball at getting a double-double than Stokes. He’s a rebounding machine, and his footwork is brilliant. He’s not extremely tall and tends to lose focus when he starts missing shots, but he’ll have success in the NBA if he can get on the right team with the right coach.

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7. Scottie Wilbekin - Florida Gators

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Wilbekin is my bold prediction on the list. Like I said last draft, the SEC breeds a different type of point guard, and I said a team with an established point guard would benefit from picking up Phil Pressey. Pressey was one of these pass-first, shoot-second PGs like Wilbekin, and he’s having a lot of success for an undrafted free agent with the Boston Celtics. Wilbekin is a much better defender than Pressey, and although he’s not going to be an elite NBA player he could immediately impact a team that needs to give their star point guard a rest. A team like the Clippers may be interested.

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6. Chris Walker - Florida Gators

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Highly touted by many NBA scouts, Walker is predicted by many to be selected in the first round. However, he hasn’t been cleared to play for Florida by the NCAA which could affect his decision to come out early.

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5. Aaron Harrison - Kentucky Wildcats

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Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Harrison is averaging 14 points and coming up big in crucial games for the Wildcats. He tends to show up in must-win situations. He’s been NBA ready since high school.

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4. Andrew Harrison - Kentucky Wildcats

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Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Harrison is one of the most underrated guards in the country; yes, this future first round NBA draft pick is underrated. Just look at Kentucky’s close games; Harrison is the one who made the big shots. You can’t teach clutch, but you can teach a player NBA ball. Look out for him at the next level.

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3. James Young - Kentucky Wildcats

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Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Young may take a backseat to fellow Wildcat Julius Randle, but NBA scouts will be eager to pick him up late in the lottery because he has such high potential.

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2. Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky Wildcats

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Cauley-Stein may be one of the more exciting players in this year’s NBA draft. He’s a perfect size for the NBA and has shown improvement in his two years with Kentucky. Expect big things from him at the next level.

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1. Julius Randle - Kentucky Wildcats

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Averaging a double-double, Randle is all but assured to be picked in the top 5 of the draft. Starting the season he was extremely turnover-prone, but John Calipari has been able to coach him extremely well and cut out a lot of his errors. Whoever selects him is going to get a steal, because he gets better game after game. Randle is a very malleable player who will learn whatever an NBA coach needs him to.