Early Entrant Russian Roulette
NCAA underclassmen – should they stay or should they go?
‘Tis the season for NCAA underclassmen with NBA aspirations to play Russian Roulette with their futures. Do they declare early for the NBA Draft and hire an agent, thereby forfeiting the rest of their college eligibility. Or should they just test the draft process and if they don’t like what they are hearing head back to school?
Should they stay or should they go? That question, asked by The Clash decades ago (yes, we’re aging ourselves now), is what a large group of players are asking themselves right about now. And, as if the case every year, far too many players make the wrong choice and keep their name in the draft. Now, before we are accused of being “haters”, let’s clarify what we mean by “wrong choice”. We are only interested in what is the best move for a player to make to maximize his potential at a long, successful NBA career. We aren’t considered outside influences that might make a guy decide to enter the draft, whether it be financial concerns or a dislike of school or whatever. So, using those parameters, here are some of the “big name” players who have made the wrong choice declaring for the draft this year.
Lance Stephenson – Cincinnati
It’s ironic that the player dubbed “Born Ready” isn’t deemed ready for the NBA. It’s no surprise that Lance Stephenson is only spending one season in college, but he is being projected as a second round pick at best (which means no guaranteed contract). While he can score and has a strong build, he has a non-existent outside jumper, average NBA athleticism at best (although he looks real athletic here) and has had more than his share of off court issues.
Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin – Oklahoma
It was a disastrous season for the Oklahoma Sooners, and it appears their two prized freshman are making a disastrous decision to enter this year’s draft. With rumors circulating about illegal payments given to Tiny Gallon, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he is leaving school. His game is not NBA-ready, however, neither are his weight nor conditioning. He might sneak into the late second round of this draft. Meanwhile, teammate Tommy Mason-Griffin isn’t projected by anyone as being drafted this year yet he has hired an agent already. His size (5-11) and inconsistency will land him in the D-League or overseas.
Derrick Caracter – UTEP
Derrick Caracter resurrected his basketball career this past season, his first with UTEP. After weight and (ahem) character issues drove him out of Louisville, Caracter righted his ship and was a significant contributor for the Miners. That being said, he’s projected as a very late second round pick at best this year and could have benefited from another year to grow his game — and prove he has matured mentally — in college. Too late for that — he’s hired an agent.
Manny Harris – Michigan
Manny Harris had another solid all-around season in Ann Arbor this year, but he is still not deemed as NBA-ready. He needs to add muscle to his frame and his outside shot needs drastic improvement. Considering he isn’t even a lock to get picked in the late second round, his best bet is to return to Michigan for his senior season.