Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tyler Smith and Dominique Archie returning to school

TYLER SMITH HEADED BACK TO TENNESSEE: On Thursday afternoon, Volunteer forward Tyler Smith announced at a press conference his intentions to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to school.

Smith probably was not going to be picked in the first round, and after flirting with the idea of heading to Europe, Smith made the (correct, in our opinion) decision to return to Knoxville for his senior season.

Tennessee has a chance to be very, very good. They return everyone that matters from the 2008-09 team that won a share of the SEC East title, which means that (once again) they are going to be a team loaded with size, length, and athleticism on the perimeter. The problem is that while they bring back a ton of talent, they don't add anything into the mix, which means that more than likely the Vols are not going to be filling the holes in their roster.

And there were plenty of holes on that team last season. After Bobby Maze, who is a talented but inconsistent point guard, the Vols do not really have a viable option as a back-up. That role landed on guys like Josh Tabb, Cam Tatum, JP Prince, and even Tyler Smith. The Vols also had a problem with three-point shooting - Bruce Pearl encourages his guys to fire away, which would be great if any of them understood a) what a good shot is and b) that being encouraged to shoot when you are open does not a Stephen Curry make.

Their only signed recruit is 6'8" power forward Kenny Hall, a top 100 recruit that will bolster their front court depth.

In terms of raw ability, Tennessee is going to be a top 10-15 team, which is probably where they will be ranked in most pre-season polls. But unless they have a couple guys develop a three-point stroke, the Vols are going to be in danger of underachieving again next season.

SOUTH CAROLINA GETS DOMINIQUE ARCHIE BACK, STILL WAITING ON DEVAN DOWNEY: Darrin Horn and the Gamecocks get a big boost as Archie pulls his name out of the draft. Not really a surprise here, as all along Archie had said that he was only looking to get feedback from the NBA people and was planning on returning.

A 6'7" swingman, Archie averaged 10.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 spg, and 1.2 bpg last season. More than anything, his experience and leadership will be important for South Carolina (Archie is a fifth year senior).

Now the Gamecocks turn their attention to Downey. Downey was one of the best scorers in the country this past season, averaging just under 20 ppg. He is projected to be, at best, a late second round pick this year. But there have already been rumors that Downey plans on staying in the draft and heading to Europe if he isn't picked.

If Downey returns, it probably would put the Gamecocks in position to make a run at an NCAA tournament berth even with the loss of senior Zam Frederick.

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