I kept hearing over recent weeks that Kawhi Leonard’s draft stock has been dropping.

Wasn’t a total surprise to hear such stuff. Despite all the positive attributes to his game, the San Diego State standout doesn’t have the outside shot that most 6-foot-7 NBA players have and he didn’t elevate his game to a higher level during the program’s rare visit to the NCAA tournament.

When Leonard declared for the draft, he was seen as a player who would be selected between the 15th to 20th picks and he was hoping to move into the Top 10 through his workout performances.

The NBA draft is about to commence and I spent the hour before it reading everything I can find about Leonard. I see stuff that he might go as high as the sixth overall pick and there are several mock drafts that have him in the Top 10.

So where is this stuff about his stock dropping coming from?

Going from a mid-first round projection to a Top 10 selection is not a downward spiral.

Regardless, Leonard will be San Diego State’s initial first-round pick since school legend Michael Cage in 1984 and the first Aztecs player to hear his name in the draft since Randy Holcomb went late in the second round in 2002.

His rebounding prowess alone – he had 23 double-doubles last season – will assure Leonard will be a solid NBA contributor. The guess is figuring out how much he can help a team early in his career and then seeing if his scoring abilities improve as he further develops his game.

In a perfect situation, Leonard would have remained in school one more season. He turns 20 early next week and he would have been a preseason All-American if he had returned for the 2011-12 campaign.

He helped the Aztecs to a school-best 34-3 record and the first two NCAA victories in program history so his place in school history is secure. Cage is easily the school’s best-ever player and Leonard is right there in the discussion for second-best despite only playing two seasons at the school.

But this is a weak draft so it made sense that Leonard waved good-bye to text books and hello to large paychecks.

The draft will start soon and it will be interesting to see which team selects Leonard, a player of great promise who works hard and should be a good citizen.

Some other draft thoughts:

–The Cleveland Cavaliers have the first and fourth overall picks in the draft and the scuttlebutt is that the franchise will pick point guard Kyrie Irving of Duke with the top pick. Irving played just 11 college games. If I were running the Cavs, I would take Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the first pick and then take Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight with the fourth pick.

–The biggest area of intrigue is whether the Utah Jazz will take BYU star Jimmer Fredette with the 12th overall selection. The franchise is under a lot of local pressure to do so and can you imagine the uproar if the Jazz pass on Fredette and he becomes a big star elsewhere? The other concern is what if you pick him and his defense isn’t up to par and he becomes a major bust?

–What is Butler star Shelvin Mack doing in this draft? He could have been one of the biggest and brightest stars in college basketball next season and he’s rated nothing better than a second-round pick. With a lockout rating as a possibility, there are several players like Mack that made major mistakes in entering the draft.

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