Friday, May 1, 2009

A number of notable names return

The story of this year's draft class isn't who left school. Blake Griffin could have been a top 10 pick last season. Hasheem Thabeet and James Harden may have been as well.

Jordan Hill.

Chase Budinger.

Stephen Curry.

Ty Lawson.

Wayne Ellington.

Those guys had a foot out the door the entire season.

The surprise comes with the number of sure fire first rounders (and probably lottery picks) that returned.

Cole Aldrich had been shooting up draft boards ever since he put on a show against North Carolina in the Final Four as a freshman.

He's coming back.

Craig Brackins had played his way into the first round after a near 20 and 10 season at Iowa State.

He's coming back.

Take a look at the list of names that are not leaving school: Willie Warren, Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, Solomon Alibi, Al-Farouq Aminu, James Anderson, Jerome Jordan, Devin Ebanks, Ed Davis, and even John Wall.

Those are all guys that have first round talent, and the majority of them have been mentioned as potential lottery picks this year.

The decision to come back by these kids will have a huge effect not only on this year's draft, but on next year's as well. Let's face it. For anyone drafting outside of the top two, you are more than likely not going to get a star (and rest assured, Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio are going 1-2. In that order. Regardless of who wins the lottery). The 2009 draft class was considered weak before all of these guys started dropping out. I love Thabeet as much as any UConn fan, but he is still a far cry from even being a starter in the league. And he is projected to go as high as third.

So while it is a bad thing for the teams picking in the third spot and beyond (who are generally looking to pick up a franchise player), it is great news for guys like DaJuan Summers and Jrue Holiday and BJ Mullens and Sam Young. The guys that were once borderline first rounders are now going to be first round locks, and the guys that were expected to be mid-to-late first rounders are going to go at the end of the lottery.

Can you say guaranteed contract?

The greater effect is going to be felt in next year's draft, which looks to be loaded based on early projections. This is great for college basketball. Not only will we have a ton of star power across the country next season, but with a loaded draft next year, you would have to expect a number of the borderline first round picks in the 2010 draft will come back for an extra season, giving us star power for the 2010-2011 season.

This is a great thing for college basketball. Last year, North Carolina got four guys to come back to school, forming what was one of the best teams of the 2000's and winning a national title. This year, the beneficiary is going to be Kansas. With Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins returning to school, and their freshman class maturing into sophomores, is there anyone in the country you can see hanging with the Jayhawks right now?

Kansas is the clear cut favorite to win their second title in three years. Wouldn't it be great if, for the second year in a row, a team had its best players come back to school to win a title?

Hopefully, this will start a trend with college ballers. But the only way I see that happening is if guys like Lawson and Griffin, who came back to school, end up having successful careers - especially early on. If Lawson is a first rounder, plays great through his rookie contract, and then signs a big second contract, is that not a good incentive for borderline first round guys to go back to school for a year?

Now what if Flynn struggles through his first contract because he isn't quite ready for the league, and eventually has to do a stint in the D-League or in Europe?

Nothing is going to stop kids leaving school early. I just hope that the guys that do decide to come back end up setting a precedent with successful NBA careers.

No comments: