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Is C.J. McCollum the next Damian Lillard?

Their similarities are remarkable and uncanny.

Two mid-major guards that played all four years of college. Both are natural scorers whose playmaking abilities have been called into question. Neither was heavily recruited coming out of high school. Both dominated their college competition. Both had broken a foot. Both come into the NBA with something to prove.

McCollum leaped onto the national scene when he scored 30 points in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March, leading the 15th-seeded Lehigh to an improbable upset against the 2nd-seeded Duke. As a junior, McCollum averaged 21.9 points. Many thought that he would declare for the draft, that that was his best chance of being drafted in the first round. He returned to Lehigh for his senior year, however, to pursue a bachelor's degree in journalism.

In January 2013, McCollum broke his foot in a game against Virginia Commonwealth. Before his injury, he averaged 23.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.

His injury did not drop his draft stock. At 21 years old, he is widely considered as a mid-to-late lottery pick. Some scouts have him ranked as the top point guard, and one of the top five players in the draft.

His stock is likely to continue rising leading up to Thursday, just as Lillard's did last June.

Last year, Lillard's critics claimed that his success in a small school cannot be translated to the NBA. He was unproven, he's not a pure point guard, he can't defend NBA point guards, he will have a hard time finishing or shooting over NBA defenders- these questions have all been raised about McCollum.

McCollum will undoubtedly hope to reproduce the success Lillard had last season as a rookie and prove the critics wrong. He definitely has the talent to do so, especially if he lands in a situation where he is allowed to play and learn immediately.

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