NBA Mock Draft 2012: 5 Potential Sleeper Prospects

 @http://twitter.com/jtalty on June 27 2012 12:30 PM
Austin Rivers
Austin Rivers is eyeing the NBA, prompting observers to wonder if the Duke star will go to his daddy's floundering Boston Celtics team. Reuters

The best stories in the NBA draft are the sleepers who managed to prove analysts and so-called experts wrong when they break out as professionals.

In this year's draft, like so many others, there are many players who have fallen below the radar.

He is a list of the potential sleepers in this year's draft:

1. Jared Sullinger, Power Forward, Ohio State

Sullinger's value over the past couple of weeks has dropped significantly due to the lingering back issues that many NBA doctors have cautioned teams about. He is considered a major risk, but some feel that his injury is not as serious as some perceive it to be. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was First-Team All-Big-Ten two years in a row, and was named to the Sporting News All-American team for the second consecutive year.  Sullinger averaged 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season, and helped his team reach the Final Four. He has been a dominant force in college basketball and one of the best products to come out of Ohio State. It would be foolish of any team to pass up on this player, especially since he is only 20-years-old.

2. Fab Melo, Center, Syracuse

After being ineligible for postseason play, the stock of Melo dropped precipitously. In 2010, Melo was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and proved that he is a dominant force in the paint. He has a 7-foot-5 wingspan and is very athletic for his size. Even though he is ranked 30th by ESPN's draft board, Melo has the ability to be a good backup center early in his career, and ultimately help teams who lack interior defense around the league.

3. Austin Rivers, Shooting Guard, Duke

Rivers is a very confident shooter and proved himself as a valuable asset during his freshman year at Duke.  His ball-handling skills are incredible, he moves swiftly during fast-breaks, and has a strong transition game. He can easily juke out his opponents, and take control over the court very quickly. Although his shooting can improve, he is still very young in his career and has time to improve his accuracy. He is a low-risk option for any team and his value can ultimately pay off in the long run.

4. Perry Jones, Power Forward, Baylor

Besides Anthony Davis and Jared Sullinger, Jones is the best available power forward in this year's draft. Standing 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, he is very athletic for his size and can move around the perimeter of the court very easily. Despite his position, he shot 30 percent from beyond the three-point-line, and has been virtually unstoppable when he runs the pick-and-roll.  Jones, 19, has matured tremendously over last season and proved that he is NBA-ready.

5. Royce White, Small Forward, Iowa State

He is the only player in Division I basketball to lead his team in every category this season. He has few intangibles on the court and proves his athleticism in every game. His value in the draft has dropped due to his anxiety problems. White is afraid of flying, which ultimately can become a major problem for an NBA team. In terms of talent, White has it all to perform exceptionally at the next level and will be a good player early in his career, at least at home games.

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