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Early Entry Breakdowns: Five head-scratchers

May 4, 2012, 10:30 AM EST

University of Memphis' Barton shoots over Saint Louis University's Mitchell and Evans during their men's NCAA college basketball game in Columbus

Read through the rest of our Early Entry breakdowns here.

Will Barton, Memphis: Barton is a frustrating guy to see head to the NBA. He’s a terrific athlete and a guy that plays the game hard. He’s a defensive playmaker and a guy that can make a difference on the glass despite being just 6-foot-6. The problem? Barton’s offensive repertoire needs a lot of work. His handle and his jump shot are both suspect enough at this point in his career to the point that it seems unlikely he’ll be a first round pick. I generally don’t have an issue with players heading for the NBA unless they are costing themselves a chance at earning some guaranteed money. Barton may have done just that.

Dominic Cheek, Villanova: I’m not exactly sure what Cheek was thinking here. Does he have family members to take care of? Was he simply done playing college basketball? Both of those things happen, and both of them are legitimate reasons (in my mind, at least) to enter the NBA Draft. But if Cheek thinks he’s going in the first round, he’s going to have a rough draft night party.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State: Jared Cunningham is arguably the best on-ball defender in this draft class. At 6-foot-3, he’s quick enough to defend point guards and athletic enough to defend shooting guards. He can work around screens and he can stay in front of someone trying to beat him off the dribble. Don’t get me started on his ability to jump passing lanes. But Cunningham’s offensive game is so incomplete that there is a real chance he could go undrafted. The irony here is that I think he will end up carving out a career in the NBA so long as he can become a 40% three-point shooter.

Khris Middleton, Texas A&M: Khris Middleton spent much of 2011-2012 laid up with injuries. When he did play, he didn’t look to be the same player that he was as a sophomore. And as a sophomore, he was criticized for being a relatively unathletic, 6-foot-7 small forward that could do nothing more than shoot the ball in the mid-range. As a junior, he shot 26.1% from three. I guess he didn’t like playing for Billy Kennedy.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: I like Thompson as a player. He’s a lights-out three-point shooter that stands 6-foot-7. Those don’t come around all that often. The problem is that for him to be able to succeed at the next level, he needs to be James Posey. Or Bruce Bowen. In other words, he needs to be a terror defensively that spreads the floor offensively. At this point in his career, he’s not that kind of defender. Another year’s worth of work on the defensive end of the floor could have changed that.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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