Monday, June 25, 2007

Which Early-Entrants Made the Right Call?

Every year is the same. Once the college basketball season ends, it seems that every remotely good player—and some not-so-good players—decides to test the NBA Draft waters. Experts and fans from coast-to-coast overreact and start thinking: “What a horrible decision!” This year was no different, as 59 NCAA players entered their names into the Draft. However, once the withdrawal deadline passed last Monday, only 32 collegiate players remained in the Draft as 27 players realized that it would be best to wait at least one more season until leaving school.

Despite the fact that many players made the correct decision to withdraw their name from the Draft, there were still several questionable players on the early-entry list. With that in mind, here is a look at all 32 early-entrants and a breakdown of whether their NBA decision was a good one.

Arron Afflalo, UCLA: For the second season in a row, the All-American didn’t play very well in the Final Four, possibly hurting his stock with the poor performance. Although he did not have a very impressive NCAA Tournament overall, Afflalo is still a likely late first-round pick due to his skill at both ends of the floor. However, he could have returned to the Bruins and made them the favorites heading into next season.

Shagari Alleyne, Manhattan: I don’t understand this decision at all. Alleyne has never proven to be a player that can contribute on any level of basketball—and did not even play this past season after transferring from Kentucky. His shining moment came in his sophomore year, when he averaged 9.2 minutes per game (not points, minutes), registering 1.5 blocks per game. He has no offensive game and is generally awkward on the court. Despite that, some mock drafts have him getting picked in the late second round, which would be one of the worst choices out there.

Corey Brewer, Florida: Nearly everyone knew that Brewer and the rest of the Gators were going to leave after their junior season, so this was no surprise. He has good size, he is long and athletic, and he can be effective at both ends of the floor. Brewer is likely to be drafted in the top seven, so this was clearly a smart decision.

Dwight Brewington, Liberty: Former Providence transfer was a solid scorer—in the Big South. He does not have much shooting range, and does most of his work inside the arc. I don’t see that working out in the NBA for a 6-5 shooting guard.

Wilson Chandler, DePaul: When he announced he was going pro, Chandler did not even contemplate returning to the Blue Demons, despite the fact that no one really expected him to go pro at all. He is very athletic and runs the floor well, but did not get a chance to show that in a slow-down system at DePaul. I think he would have been better off declaring for the draft, but returning to the Demons.

Mike Conley, Jr., Ohio State: Terrific NCAA Tournament boosted his stock to a lottery lock. Going back to school without Greg Oden could have exposed some flaws—like not being able to shoot consistently—so this was a good idea for him.

Daequan Cook, Ohio State: I guess Cook felt left out with all the attention Oden and Conley were getting, so he decided to go pro with them. He is apparently going to be drafted in the first round, although that is clearly not based off of production. Cook averaged 4.4 points per game over the last 11 games of the season—what NBA team could pass that up?

Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech: Borderline lottery pick and one of the top three point guards in the Draft, so he made the right decision to go. Furthermore, his game and size should translate well to the NBA. Probably would not have gained anything from staying another year at Tech.

JamesOn Curry, Oklahoma State: Didn’t see this move coming, considering he is an undersized shooting guard that likely won’t get drafted. He could have even declared for the draft and just not signed with an agent, so he could pull a Randolph Morris and return to school—but that obviously didn’t appeal to him. Curry struggled mightily down the stretch, scoring in single-digits in five of his last nine games.

Glen Davis, LSU: His stock was at its highest after his sophomore season, when Davis and his infectious smile lead the Tigers to the Final Four. However, this past season, he seemed to regress. LSU played better while he was injured and they only went 5-11 in the SEC. Davis does not have great leaping ability or length, and his game does not translate well to the NBA.

Kevin Durant, Texas: Going to be one of the top two selections and did not have much to gain by returning to the Longhorns—obviously a good decision.

Jeff Green, Georgetown: Seemed to go back and forth on his decision several times over the past couple of months, but I’m not sure why. He is going to get drafted in the lottery, and has been projected as high as No. 5. Could have returned to help lead the Hoyas back to the Final Four, but this was a good decision.

Taurean Green, Florida: Was going to be a second-round pick whenever he came out, so it made sense to follow the rest of his teammates to the NBA. He’s proven to be a winner and a player capable of running a team, though.

Spencer Hawes, Washington: He was hampered by injuries during his one season with the Huskies and never really had a chance to show his full potential. Could have stayed another year to develop his game, but he’s going to be a top ten pick so one can’t blame him for going.

Al Horford, Florida: Has been an unsung hero throughout his career at Florida, always overshadowed by the boisterous Joakim Noah. However, this year he showed that he was the better player and might be the leading candidate to be taken No. 3 in the Draft. He is a tenacious rebounder and a good shot-blocker who can score in a variety of ways up front. He is also a solid passer.

Robert Earl Johnson, Clinton JC:
Another one of the worst decisions this season. He played in only 10 games at Clinton, averaging 11 points per game. Furthermore, he shot only 57% from the free-throw line. None of those numbers matter, though, as there’s no chance he will get drafted.

Kellen Lee, Los Angeles City College: Another JC player that won’t get drafted. He’s 6-11 and was a solid high school player, so I’m not sure why he wouldn’t take a shot at a D-I school.

Dominic McGuire, Fresno State: Was one of the first players to declare for the draft this season, and is a likely second-round pick. He is long and athletic, and can do a variety of things at both ends of the floor. If he keeps his focus while on the court, he could be a good NBA player. Probably a good decision, as another year might not have done anything for his stock.

Josh McRoberts, Duke: Never really seemed overly interested in playing at Duke anyway, so this was likely the only choice in McRoberts’ mind. His stock has dropped more and more since he came to Duke two seasons ago, although he has the talent and skill to make a different at the next level.

Joakim Noah, Florida:
Everyone knew Noah and the rest of his “Gator boys” were going to go pro after their second national title in a row, so this was no surprise. He would have been drafted much higher last season, but will have to settle for top ten instead of top three.

Greg Oden, Ohio State: Nothing really to discuss here, as Oden is going to be top pick overall and would have been if he came out two years ago or two years from now. Potential franchise player.

Kendaris Pelton, Southern Mississippi: He’s not really from Southern Miss, as he only played seven games for the Golden Eagles—during the first half of the 2005-2006 season. He played almost 27 minutes per game, but averaged less than three points per game, and shot 29% from the field. Pelton has not been heard from since then, and certainly won’t hear his name on Thursday.

Gabe Pruitt, USC: His stock rose considerably during the NCAA Tournament, as he showed that he is capable of running the point despite not playing there before this past season. He is a borderline first-round pick that probably did not want to spend an entire season sharing the ball with incoming Trojans guard O.J. Mayo. Probably the right choice.

Ramon Sessions, Nevada: Had an up-and-down career at Nevada, with a great freshman season, mediocre sophomore campaign, and a great junior year. He is going to be a mid-second round selection, but his stock would likely have dropped next season without Nick Fazekas in Reno anymore.

Jason Smith, Colorado State: No player’s stock has risen more than Smith’s over the past couple of months. Instead of being a second-round selection, he is likely to be drafted in the top-twenty. This was a terrific decision, as he did the smart thing: tested the waters without signing an agent, was very impressive in workouts, then decided to stay in the Draft. This should be the posterboy for players that are undecided if they should enter the draft or stay in school.

Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Washington: Smart decision, as Stuckey is being looked at as a mid-first round selection despite the fact that he has not been a household name nationally during his career at EWU. He is a bit of a tweener right now, as he is too small to be a shooting guard but does not have much experience at the point guard position.

Marcus Williams, Arizona: Another situation where the player never really seemed interested in playing college basketball. It doesn’t seem as though Williams will be missed much in Tuscon next season, despite his impressive statistics. He is likely to be drafted in the first round, though, making his decision a smart one.

Sean Williams, Boston College: He had no choice but to go pro after being suspended and later kicked off the Eagles in the middle of the season for failing drug tests. He is a terrific shot-blocker and has potential as a scorer and rebounder. One interesting thing, though, is that Williams is not working out for too many teams, which could hurt his draft stock.

Brandan Wright, North Carolina: While he likely could have used another year at UNC, Wright essentially had to go pro as he is going to be drafted in the top ten—and as high as No. 3. He sometimes drifted and lost interest during games last season, but that could change in the NBA. Wright has arguably more upside than anyone in this Draft outside of Oden and Durant.

Julian Wright, Kansas: A multi-faceted player, Wright is going to be drafted in the top ten and made the right decision to go pro. However, I am not completely sold on Wright as a future star, though. While he does everything well, he is not exceptional in any particular category and also does not have a defined position. He might not be strong enough to play power forward, and does not shoot well enough to be a very good small forward.

Nick Young, USC:
One of my favorite players in college basketball, I think that Young is going to be an outstanding pro. He is a bubble lottery pick, and likely made the right decision by turning pro. Young had an impressive NCAA Tournament, averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds per game (even matching up with Kevin Durant against Texas), and if he improves his three-point shooting consistency, he could be a terrific two guard in the NBA.

Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech: His stock dropped since last season as he probably would have been a top ten pick if high school players were allowed to enter the NBA Draft. Now, however, he is going to have to settle for the late lottery or mid-first round. I think he made a poor decision, though. He could have used another year at Tech working on his game. There were times when Young was not aggressive enough, and he is also not a very good three-point shooter or ball-handler. Young could be a terrific NBA player down the line, but I don’t think he is ready right now.

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