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Bar Room Bicker 2

December 24, 2002 Featured No Comments




Bar Room Bicker – Big Sky vs. West Coast

by James Burns and Nicholas Lozito

Note: This is the second installation of The Bar Room Bicker, which pits two college basketball enthusiasts against one another. James Burns and Nicholas Lozito are Hoopville Staff writers, and each week the two pick an array of topics and argue their sides.

Week two: Random Bickering

Lebron James: Should he go to college or straight to the pros?

Nicholas Lozito: Lebron James is the best high school talent ever. He is far better that Bryant and McGrady were in their high school days. He could be starting in the NBA right now. So why in the world would he want to risk that opportunity by playing in college? Wouldn’t it be a sad sight to see him reinjure his wrist, or commit any other kind of bodily harm to his much-drooled-over-by-NBA-coaches body? He has nothing left to prove. He has the size, the athleticism, the inside game, the outside game and great court awareness. Why should he let any university reap the awards of his 17 years of dedication? Why should he pass up the opportunity to make life easier for his mother? He wouldn’t be going to college to improve his draft status. He is already a lock for the No. 1 pick.

It’s ludicrous to compare James to any other player who has come out of high school. No, he won’t end up like Lenny Cook or DeAngelo Collins, who were both not drafted out of high school. This is a guy who would have been a lottery pick as a junior. It’s a sure bet that James will make millions upon millions of dollars in the pros. And anybody who passes up guaranteed millions probably needs to go to college.

James Burns: Decisions. Decisions. I wish I had some of these kinds of decisions to make in my life. Do I go to the best college program in the nation and star as a freshman? Or do I make the jump to the NBA, be the main focus on the league’s worst team and get paid millions of dollars? If I was James – and I am, sorda – I go to a college team like Duke or Arizona for this reason: James is a man on the court, but he is far from it off the court. He needs time to develop as a person and a college environment gives him that. Lute Olson and Coach K would give him that. If he is the next Michael Jordan, the savior of professional basketball, he needs to have his head in the right place. Remember he is only 17!

If he jumps to the NBA, he is only setting himself up to fail. Contrary to popular belief, he isn’t going to come right into the league and dominate. Every player needs time to adjust. Every player. What are two or three seasons of mediocrity, spotty playing time, poor shot selection and mentoring going to do to his psyche? College ball helps him mature for the next level, become a better professional basketball player and realize his talent.

Best young team: Florida or North Carolina?

NL: If you think Florida has a solid freshman class right now, you still haven’t seen their prize recruit. Christian Drejer, a 6-foot-9 guard from Denmark, is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Drejer’s return will give Florida the most feared freshman in the country. He averaged over 30 points for a professional team in Denmark and would have easily been a first round pick this year if he declared himself for the draft.

The Gators have already received tremendous play from their scoring leader Matt Walsh, who many are comparing to a certain former Celtic with the initials LB. Freshman guard Anthony Roberson is averaging well over ten points, and sophomore forward David Lee is one of the most athletic players in the nation. Anyone who beats out James “Flight” White, who recently transferred from Florida to Cincy, in a dunk contest deserves high praises. Lee did just that at the 2001 McDonalds All-American game. Freshman center Mario Boggan gives Florida a top-rated underclassman at just about every position. The Gators will win a championship in the next two years.

JB: Florida will not win a championship in the next decade, let alone the next two years. They can’t keep players around long enough to even think about a championship. A team thinking championship is the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels are legitimate ACC Championship contenders this season, a year after they fell off the block.

North Carolina is the best young team in the nation right now, hands down. Matt Doherty has got himself an explosive bunch down there on Tobacco Road, built on attitude and speed. Like most young teams, the Baby Tar Heels have their fair share of problems. They haven’t played much defense recently and they don’t have very much height in the middle. But they have young star-power that is playing well beyond its years.

Rashad McCants is a bonafide All-American right now and leading the Baby Tar Heels in scoring and fellow freshman Sean May isn’t too far behind.

Historically, young teams are supposed to fail, but this playpen of Baby Tar Heels hasn’t. They’ve knocked off a No.2-ranked Kansas team and a solid Stanford team.

Is this season’s Arizona team the best of all time?

NL: Not by a long shot, the 2000-01 squad was one of the best college team ever, even though they didn’t win the championship. With a starting lineup of Jason Gardner, Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Michael Wright and Loren Woods, the Wildcats took it all the way the national championship game (lost to Duke). If Gardner declared for the draft, the entire starting five would have been selected. The team was so good that Luke Walton rode the pine for most of the time. I even saw backup power forward Eugene Edgerson hooping it up in the NBDL this week.

JB: Depth. It all comes down to depth. What separates this season’s Wildcats team from any other is its depth. Everyone knows that the 2002 Wildcats have the strongest starting five, but what’s more impressive is that their bench could start anywhere else in the nation. Arizona’s bench mob – Salim Stoudamire, Hassan Adams, Channing Frye and Dennis Latimore – could probably give any other Arizona team a run for their money. Nobody was lying when they said in the preseason that this was Lute Olson’s best team ever. What makes them so good is their depth. No other team had the luxury of several McDonald All-Americans waiting in the balance.

This team also gets the nod because of Luke Walton, period. Walton is one of the greatest talents ever to come through the Arizona program. He is the star player that does everything well on the court. He can shoot the jumper, bump bodies in the paint, haul down rebounds and dish the rock. But most of all, he is the gel. The Wildcats and Olson have never seen a player like this before.

James Burns and Nicholas Lozito are a Hoopville Staff writers living in Sacramento.

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