Class in session

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

The NBA announced Thursday the list of early candidates for the June 24 draft, a group of underclassmen that features 80 players from the U.S. college system and 23 international players.

Thursday was the first step in a process for many who still have the option to withdraw their name from consideration, which must be exercised no later than June 14, while others can maintain their college eligibility by not signing with an agent.

The draft lottery takes place on May 18 with the Raptors having the thinnest of chances (six lottery balls among the available 1,000) of moving up from their current slot at No. 13. The New Jersey Nets have the best odds of winning the lottery and the opportunity to select John Wall, who is considered the best available prospect, at least at this moment.

Wall is one of five Kentucky underclassmen to declare for the draft.

DeMarcus Cousins may go as high as third overall, which Daniel Orton and Patrick Patterson are projected as lottery picks. The only Wildcat underclassman not projected to go among the first 14 picks is Eric Bledsoe.

With so much time before the draft, so much can happen with the Raptors, who remain open to any available scenario.

Certainly, the presence of quality underclassmen does present a chance to acquire an asset. What the Raptors do with it remains to be seen.

The highest-ranked international prospect to declare is Donatus Motiejunas of Lithuania. The seven-footer plays for Benetton Treviso in Italy.


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