It's been 20 years since Kevin Garnett opened the early-entry floodgates by jumping straight from high school to the NBA, skipping college altogether. At the time, it was rare for college players who had yet to complete their junior season to go pro. Now, it's common for freshmen and sophomores to make up the bulk of the top 10 picks in the NBA draft.
The results of the paradigm shift mean that the NCAA often is dominated by freshmen and sophomores because, well, all the best would-be upperclassmen left college behind.
With that in mind, here's a look at the NBA players who would have caused the most havoc in this year's NCAA Tournament had they opted to stay through graduation, based on their contributions in the pros.
Already a two-time All-Star for the Pelicans, the former Kentucky one-and-done led the NCAA in blocks en route to the 2012 national title. In what would have been his senior season, "The Brow" now leads the NBA in blocks and has New Orleans in the playoff hunt. With Davis averaging 24.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in the pros, imagine what he'd be doing at the amateur level.
Like Davis, Drummond spent last summer on the United States' FIBA World Cup championship squad and left his school (Connecticut) as a freshman in 2012. A force on the offensive glass who is on pace to lead the NBA in offensive rebounds for the second year in a row, he contributes 13 points, 13.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks for the Pistons this season.
Injuries are all that's held back the former Florida standout. A threat from 3-point range in the NBA (career 39.9%), it stands to reason this two-guard would be making more from behind the college arc this season if he'd stuck around through his eligibility -- he'd be a senior now for the Gators. As it stands, he's a key scoring threat for a Wizards team that is sure to reach the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The top pick out of Kansas last June, Wiggins would have been a sophomore for the Jayhawks this year. Instead, he's already topped 1,000 points for a young and struggling Timberwolves team. The athletic swingman is a near lock to earn Rookie of the Year honors, and would likely be in the running for national player of the year had he stayed at Kansas another season.
Burke gave Michigan two seasons before turning pro. Now with the Jazz in what would have been his senior year, the point guard is averaging 12.5 points and 4.4 assists. His numbers are actually slightly down from his rookie season, but he probably still would have been good enough to push the Wolverines into this year's Big Dance. Instead, Michigan is on the outside looking in.