With the 2015-16 season now complete, attention turns to news about college basketball players making decisions on entering the NBA Draft-some going, some thinking of going, some staying.
In the past two days, Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and Tyler Ulis, Connecticut’s Daniel Hamilton, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin and Boise State’s James Webb all declared that not only are they in the draft, but they are signing with agents and plan to stay. On the other hand, Duke’s Grayson Allen announced yesterday that he is staying for another year, while Oakland’s Kahlil Felder plans to test the draft process but hasn’t made an official decision on staying or going.
The players leaving includes a mixed bag of players high on potential (Labissiere), those who accomplished about all they were going to in college (Sabonis and Ulis), those who should be high picks (Ellenson) and those who just feel the time is right (Baldwin, Hamilton, Webb).
The only mildly surprising decisions were by Hamilton and Webb. Both were lead players on their respective teams a year ago and likely would’ve received All-America consideration next year as seniors. Both also have the body size and length that pro teams crave, though, and in that way it’s easy to see how they came to their decisions.
Allen’s choice to return will certainly make Duke one of the preseason national favorites next year, though once again the Blue Devils will be breaking in a host of new players, albeit talented and touted ones. As Duke and Kentucky both proved this year and have proven at times in the past, this is not a fail-safe method of building a program, and increasingly it looks to be a high-risk/high-reward one. In this case, though, Allen provides not just a go-to scorer but experience plus a chip-on-the-shoulder playing style that could (maybe should) bring the newbies up to speed quickly.
When it comes to players leaving college and heading to the NBA Draft, it’s hard to find fault with them in a lot of areas. Some may really feel they’ve accomplished all they can. Some may want to go, knowing that the longer a kid stays in college, the more it often gets held against them by teams drafting, as if potential is truly more important than performance. Some may never really have wanted to go to college in the first place, but felt all-but forced to by the NBA’s silly requirement that a player be one year (but just one) past high school before going in the draft. (If it were up to us, the baseball model would be in play, where kids can go pro out of high school, but if not then they stay in college for three years).
Our only hope is that, if a player is entering the draft, it’s because they’re making a decision that they’re completely comfortable with, that they understand socially what they are getting themselves into and what they will miss out (life as a pro is much different than life in college) and that they are prepared for and understanding of the possibility that draft day may not turn out as they hoped.
And if there’s any doubt about whether they should go or stay, then sticking around, spending another year with teammates and getting better in a college environment is never a bad decision. A professional contract may provide instant money, but it doesn’t guarantee an athlete will know how to manage that money, or
- Louisville has self-imposed additional sanctions in the wake of the NCAA investigation into its program. The penalties, if one can call them such, are the loss of two scholarships, two on-campus official visits and 30 off-campus recruiting trips over the next three years. Once again, a school has dusted itself with a feather in an attempt to fend off further sanctions from the NCAA, penalties that are intended to appear full of sound and fury but not really hurt the program. We don’t know yet what infractions Louisville will be charged with by the NCAA, if any, but we do know this: it’s high time self-imposed sanctions are ended.
- Central Connecticut State has once again tapped the Connecticut pipeline, hiring Donyell Marshall as its new coach. Marshall was a UConn star and had a solid 15-year NBA career, and he has since worked his way up the coaching ranks, serving as an assistant at George Washington, Rider and most recently for a year at Buffalo. He succeeds the successful and very popular Howie Dickenman, who was an assistant at UConn for 15 years before spending 19 years as the head man at CCSU.
- We prefer not to discuss the subject of transfers any more than necessary, as from this view way too many transfers are being made for the wrong reasons and thus are not healthy for the student-athletes or the sport. That said, the move by Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins to transfer to Central Florida is a pretty obvious one that won’t invoke a whole lot of cynicism, as Dawkins is going to play for his dad Johnny, who was recently named the Knights’ coach.
Enjoy your Thursday.