The rule of thumb for underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft is that you should only remain in the draft as long as you’re certain of being a 1st round pick.

Preferably a lottery pick.

The reason is the difference in contract structure between the 1st and 2nd rounds.

First-round deals are all guaranteed for the 1st 2 years at a rookie pay scale that ranges from $18.8 million for No. 1 overall to $3.74 million for No. 30th and final pick. They also feature a team option for a 3rd and 4th season.

Second-round picks don’t have that same security.

Although some are fortunate enough to negotiate fully guaranteed contracts, most don’t. And many end up signing 2-way G-League deals that pay them only 50% of the NBA’s rookie minimum.

Of the 21 ACC players with eligibility remaining that have entered their names in this year’s draft, only 2 are considered to be certain 1st-round picks.

Duke teammates Jared McCain and Kyle Filipowski.

That, however, doesn’t mean everyone else should withdraw from consideration and return to their respective schools. Even though it’s a gamble because of the financial implications, these 5 ACC early entries should absolutely ride it out and take their chances.

Mohamed Diarra, NC State

Diarra was one of the breakout stars of NC State’s remarkable run to the ACC Tournament championship and Final Four. He’s a 6-foot-10 forward who was transformed into a postseason rebounding machine. He played with passion and even made a few perimeter jumpers down the stretch for the Wolfpack.

All while observing the fast of Ramadan.

None of that is going to help get him picked. He’s destined to be an undrafted free agent. But he’s got 2 good reasons to forgo his final 2 seasons of eligibility and turn pro.

Both have to do with the fact that he’s a native of France.

The 1st is that college athletes from foreign countries are ineligible to receive the same financial benefits from name, image and likeness deals that their American teammates get because student visa rules don’t allow them to work while in the US.

The 2nd is that his marketability in his home country may never be greater than it is now because of the exposure he gained from his NCAA Tournament performance. That should give him the opportunity to earn a lucrative contract to play for a team in the top French professional league.

Norchad Omier, Miami

Like Diarra, Omier is a foreign national. But that’s not why it’s not in his best interest to stay in this draft.

The 6-7 native of Nicaragua tested the waters a year ago, but returned to school after failing to earn an invitation to the NBA’s predraft scouting combine. To his credit, he used the feedback he received while going through the process to add a perimeter element to his game.

After making only 6 3-pointers in his 1st 3 college seasons at Miami and Arkansas State combined, he hit 24 while shooting 35% from beyond the arc this season. And he did it without compromising his greatest asset, his rebounding. He finished last season with a double-double at 17 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Despite having played 4 college seasons, Omier has the option of returning for his extra COVID year of eligibility. And he’s also entered the transfer portal just in case. But as a 22-year-old who is likely as close to being a finished product as he’s going to be, there’s no reason for him to come bac to college for more growth or seasoning.

Especially with his inability to cash in on any NIL deals.

Kyshawn George, Miami

Omier’s teammate with the Hurricanes had a tough time cracking a veteran lineup as a freshman. But once injuries to others allowed him to move into a starting role late in the season, he was finally able to show some flashes of why he was considered the best pro prospect on the team.

With the size of a wing, the ball-handling ability of a guard, a 40.8% 3-point shooting touch and a willingness to defend, the 6-8 native of Switzerland who played high school ball in France has all the elements NBA teams look for in young players.

Including an unlimited upside.

Even though most projections currently have George listed as an early 2nd-round selection, he’s the kind of player whose stock will go soaring through the roof once the scouts get a look at him in person at the Combine and pre-draft workouts. Several mock drafts already have him sneaking into the 1st round.

Even if he isn’t among the 1st 30 players taken, he’s the kind of talent likely to command a 1st-round type contract because of his long-range potential.

Harrison Ingram, North Carolina

Ingram’s skill set is similar to that of George. Only instead of being a several-year project, he’s a much more polished version with 3 seasons of high major starting experience.

The former Tar Heel, who played his 1st 2 seasons at Stanford, is the complete package. He’s big and strong enough to play a physical style. But he’s also a high IQ player who’s just as comfortable playing a finesse game.

At 6-7, 235 pounds, Ingram can score around the rim and from the perimeter. He’s an aggressive rebounder for his size and an elite passer whose 80 assists were the 3rd-most on UNC’s team. He’s also a high-energy guy and a popular teammate whose grit and competitiveness were a major reason for the Tar Heels’ transformation back into a No. 1 NCAA seed after missing out on the tournament the previous season.

Ingram is a plug-and-play wing who could provide immediate help off the bench to a contending team picking late in the 1st round.

Carlton “Bub” Carrington, Pittsburgh

Carrington is a talented teenager whose body is still in the process of maturing and whose game has only begun to scratch the surface of his ability.

He gave a glimpse of his raw ability during his 1st game with the Panthers by becoming the 1st ACC freshman since Georgia Tech’s Dennis Scott in 1987 to record a triple-double in his college debut. The 6-5 point guard then bookended his short career by going off for 24 points in his final game against UNC the ACC Tournament semifinal.

While Carrington is capable of playing both guard positions, he’s best with the ball in his hands both as a facilitator to others and in creating his own offensive opportunities. He averaged 13.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 33 games for Pitt.

Because still needs to fill out physically and become more of a consistent performer on both ends of the floor, his draft projections have fluctuated wildly. He could go anywhere from the high teens to midway through the 2nd round depending on how the draft unfolds. But considering his youth and the potential he possesses, someone is bound to take a flier on him sooner than later.