April 25, 2011
With the NBA draft's deadline for early entrants to announce their intentions having now passed, there are some decisions that are likely to be second-guessed for the next calendar year.
The jury is still out for these eight …
Perry Jones III, freshman forward, Baylor — Returning to school
Jones is ready to go to the next level, and in this draft, he's all but a guaranteed lottery pick. Scouts have thought this of him for more than a year now. His decision to come back, though, is not nearly the same as that of Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, who heads up a team pegged already as a national championship contender. Baylor is off of an underwhelming 18-13 season, and will again have a thin backcourt in 2011-12. It's tough to tell how much — if anything — Jones stands to gain by going back to Waco.
Josh Selby, freshman guard, Kansas — Entered draft, hired agent
It's sad, actually, how much Selby was hurt by the rule in place forcing top prep seniors to wait a year before heading to the NBA. A year ago, he would have been a Top-10 pick, but his one year at Kansas did more damage than good. After being suspended by the NCAA for the season's first nine games, he got off to a hot start before suffering a foot injury. He'd miss three games while healing, then disappear the rest of the way. He could rebuild himself into a lottery pick with a healthy, productive sophomore year at Kansas, but now is hoping just to hang on to a spot somewhere in the first round with guaranteed money attached to it.
Ashton Gibbs, junior guard, Pitt — Entered draft, hasn't hired agent
This one wouldn't be so iffy if Gibbs was just simply testing the NBA draft waters, but it seems a bit rushed that he's insisting he will stay in the draft. Gibbs could certainly improve his stock with another year at Pitt. Turning pro would simply be a risky roll of the dice.
Harrison Barnes, freshman guard, North Carolina — Returning to school
Barnes was shouldered with unfair expectations coming into the season, being voted as a preseason AP All-American before ever stepping on a collegiate floor. He struggled to live up to them until mid-way through ACC play, and by coming back is leaving millions of dollars on the table. There's minimal worry that he'll struggle that badly again next season, but if he has a tough time handling preseason hype for a second time, it could be a red flag for the NBA folks already looking at him as a future franchise cornerstone.
Jereme Richmond, freshman guard, Illinois — Entered draft, hired agent
Richmond's decision is a flat-out head-scratcher. He was as heralded of a recruit as Illinois has had in a while, but his freshman season was filled with frustration. Between inconsistent play, mid-season transfer rumors and a mysterious benching for both of the team's NCAA tournament games, his case to be a successful one-and-done took plenty of hits along the way. He could have been a special player for the Illini, but now we'll never know for sure.
Tyler Honeycutt, sophomore guard, UCLA — Entered draft, hired agent
Like Gibbs, declaring and hiring an agent right off of the bat is puzzling for Honeycutt. He posted decent numbers as a sophomore for the Bruins, but was both turnover-prone and far from a lock-down defender. He'll have to really impress some people over the next few weeks to avoid scrapping for a roster spot next fall.
Malcolm Lee, junior guard, UCLA — Entered draft, hired agent
This case is even more baffling than Honeycutt's. Lee had a tough time running the point consistently for UCLA, and is not a strong enough shooter to play off of the ball in the NBA. He can defend with the best of them and score on the break, but is that enough to land him a job? It's another case of a guy who probably should have tested the waters first.
Greg Smith, sophomore forward, Fresno State — Entered draft, hired agent
Smith averaged 11.7 points and 8.1 rebounds on a below-average Fresno State team and is now hoping to follow the path of former Bulldogs teammate Paul George, who left after his sophomore campaign last season and was a lottery pick of the Indiana Pacers. Don't expect a similar fate here. Smith could have dominated the WAC for another year or two and built up more of a profile, but instead is taking a very questionable leap of faith.