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NCAA Draft Losers

July 2, 2003 Columns No Comments

The NCAA’s Draft Day Losers

by Nicholas Lozito

If anybody happens to be vacationing in Starkville this summer, please make sure to send my condolences to Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. As a result of early entrees in the 2003 NBA Draft, Stansbury’s basketball program suffered a tremendous blow this off-season, along with many other NCAA squads. From underclassmen leaving early, to blue chip high school prospects skipping the college ranks altogether, the NCAA always sheds a few tears in late June. Here are the ten schools that suffered the most this summer as a result of early entrees:

10. Georgia Bulldogs: After a season of turmoil in Athens, Bulldog junior forward Jarvis Hayes forfeited his final year of eligibility for NBA riches. Drafted No. 10 by the Washington Wizards, Hayes leaves Georgia as the first player to garner two-time all-SEC first-team honors since Dominique Wilkens in 1981-82. The Bulldogs finished 2002-03 with a 19-8 record and No. 24 rank in the Hoopville Top 25 Poll. However, a self-imposed post-season ban resulted from former Bulldog player Tony Cole’s allegations that Jim Harrick committed several NCAA violations during his tenure as head coach. Harrick later resigned.

9. Memphis Tigers: It’s a pretty good feeling, especially to a school in Conference USA other than Cincinnati and Louisville, any time you can get a McDonald’s All-American to commit to your program. Memphis head coach John Calipari was feeling this excitement when 6-foot-10 Texas blue chipper Kendrick Perkins signed with his upstart program. Calipari was left in the cold, however, when the Memphis Grizzlies selected Perkins with the No. 27 pick. Hey, at least Calipari can see first hand what he missed out on, right? Nope. Perkins was traded from Memphis to the Boston Celtics before the first round was complete.

8. Syracuse Orangemen: You might think losing the NCAA’s biggest star, Carmelo Anthony, would warrant putting Syracuse higher up on this list. Well, as it stands, the Orangemen are lucky the freshman didn’t jump to the League straight out of high school. They should also be very grateful that blossoming sophomore forward Hakim Warrick chose not to enter the draft. With a superb recruiting class, the Orangemen will be right back in the championship hunt next season.

7. Arizona Wildcats: Arizona suffered the same fate as Memphis, as McDonald’s All-American forward Ndudi Ebi backed out of his commitment to Lute Olson and was selected at No. 26 by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

6. Marquette Golden Eagles: After guiding Marquette to a Final Four appearance, Dwyane Wade opted to forfeit his senior season. Wade carried the Eagles through the NCAA Tourney and finished his junior year averaging 21.5 points. The Miami Heat selected him at No. 5.

5. Louisville Cardinals: Once upon a time in a small town named Akron, there was a king named James. King James was known throughout the land for his magical skills, which included the gift of flight, lighting speed and a killa crossover. One day, the 6-foot-8 James was faced with the biggest decision of his life: Attend college or sign a multi-million dollar shoe contract and fulfill a lifelong dream by entering the NBA Draft. His college choices were North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Ohio State and Louisville.

Meanwhile, in another town named Birmingham, another basketball player named James Lang had committed to Louisville. Both James Lang and King James passed on an opportunity to win four-straight NCAA Championships at Louisville for NBA riches. King James was selected No. 1 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, while James Lang was selected No. 48 by the New Orleans Hornets. The moral of this story, children, is to never hold a scholarship for a kid named James.

4. Central Michigan Chippewas: It’s not every millennium a school like Central Michigan gets a player like 7-footer Chris Kaman to play for them. This is why it must have been so difficult for coach Jay Smith to see his junior big man taken at No. 6 by the L.A. Clippers in the NBA Draft. But Chris, we have to ask: Are the Clippers really that big of an upgrade from Central Michigan? Seriously.

3. Georgia Tech Yellowjackets: 6-foot-11 forward Chris Bosh could have made Georgia Tech a contender. Instead, he gave Atlanta a one-year sample before being selected by the Toronto Raptors at No. 4.

2. Texas Longhorns: After taking Wooden Award honors as the nations top player in 2002-03, sophomore T.J. Ford chose to leave a Texas program coming off a Final Four appearance. Had Ford stayed, Texas would probably be frontrunners for a 2004 title. Instead, the lighting quick point guard will display his talents in Milwaukee with the Bucks, where he was selected at No. 8.

1. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Junior forward Mario Austin forfeited his senior year in Starkville and was selected at No. 36 overall by the Chicago Bulls. Austin finished his career ranked No. 17 on the Bulldogs’ all-time scoring list. Hometown prep star Travis Outlaw, who was committed to the Bulldogs, was selected at No. 23 by the Portland Trailblazers.

It must be days like the 2003 NBA Draft that make coach Stansbury never again want to pursue another elite recruit, because all they do in the end is break your heart. While either a high school recruit or an underclassman betrayed every other team on this list, Mississippi State got a nice dose of both.


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