April 23, 2009
For a few magical days last March, it looked like Stephen Curry was the second coming of Larry Bird. The Davidson sophomore almost single-handedly led the No. 10 seed Wildcats into the Final Four, eventually falling in the final seconds to a Kansas team that would go on to win the national title.
Nobody would have blamed Stephen Curry if he had gone pro after dominating the 2008 NCAA tournament, but he opted to return to the small North Carolina school in hopes of advancing farther in the NCAA tournament and boosting his draft stock for the 2009 draft. Neither of those things happened.
Without point guard Jason Richards, Davidson struggled through a murderous non-conference schedule and failed to qualify for the NCAAs after losing in the Southern Conference tournament semifinals. Curry was named All-America, but without the national spotlight in which to shine during February and March he became a forgotten hero amidst nightly tales of Big East and ACC superiority. He still led the nation in scoring, but he did so quietly. His play as a point guard (he played the two as a sophomore) was middling, at best.
Today, Curry announced he would be foregoing his senior season to enter the NBA draft.
Did Curry make a mistake going back to Davidson? In pure basketball terms, it's tough to say he didn't. Although most mock drafts had him going near the end of last year's lottery, the excitement over Curry's '08 tournament would likely have propelled him into the top 10. He still may go that high, but is projected as a mid-first rounder. Basically, he came back to move down in the draft and not make the NCAA tournament.
His NBA success will be all about location, location, location. If Curry goes to a team that spreads the floor and can get him open jumpshots, he should thrive. If a team is depending on him to run the point like Chris Paul and create his own looks, that may not work as well.
Either way, Curry was a breath of fresh air in a college basketball world that is increasingly dominated by blue chip recruits and big-time programs. Curry's jumpshot was as pure as Jimmy Chitwood's. It is a thing of beauty. Here's hoping his NBA career is the same.