Archive for Monday, May 1, 2006

NBA Draft deadline passes quietly

May 1, 2006

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The NBA Draft early-entry deadline passed at 11:59 p.m. Saturday with no surprises involving Kansas University freshman Brandon Rush.

Rush, who after KU's season-ending loss to Bradley and again after the postseason awards celebration said he was returning to school, did not enter his name in the June 28 draft.

"I had a great experience my freshman year. I'm really looking forward to next season. We had a good year, but we still have unfinished business to take care of," Rush said Sunday night in a statement.

KU coach Bill Self, who was returning from a speaking engagement in Florida, said in a phone interview the 6-foot-6 guard/forward, "has done exactly what he said he was going to do. He held true to his word.

"I'm sure in his mind he was thinking 'one and done' when he got started (in college). But there's a reality of things when you play at a higher level. You say to yourself, 'I've done pretty well, but I've got some work to do,''' Self added.

In talking to almost all the (NBA) teams, Self learned Rush was considered a possible late-first-round or second-round pick.

"I think if he could have been guaranteed that (first round), there would have been a great chance he would have declared," Self said. "It would have been a risk on his part. People told us he has first-round talent, but he could probably guarantee himself better positioning for the draft next year if he'd hone his skills.

"Everybody is high on him and impressed with the progress he made in one year. The NBA people told us he has a very high ceiling. He should continue working hard and good things will happen for him."

Rush, like at least 40 underclassmen (the official list will come out this week), could have declared for the draft and gone through individual workouts with teams and to the Orlando (Fla.) pre-draft camp. He then would have had the option to pull out a week before the draft with no threat to his eligibility - as long as he didn't sign with an agent.

"It's a risky proposition for those who do declare," Self said. "You have to make sure you are on the same page with the compliance office and NCAA as far as what you can do. If not, you put yourself in a situation to be punished severely (if you return to college).

"If you declare, the NBA is allowed to pay for you to go to the pre-draft camp. If you work out for individual teams, you are responsible for payments."

Self realizes that, next year at this time, Rush - who almost turned pro a year ago - likely will declare for the draft.

"Realistically if he has another good season, I think obviously there's a great chance for him to jump next year if in fact people tell us he's improved his position in the draft," Self said.

"I think it'd be safe to say the percentages are we'll lose somebody next year if in fact we (Jayhawks) do what we are capable of doing, if our guys have good seasons. I don't think it'd be unreasonable to say one would probably be on the low end.

"We could lose a couple of guys. I could see that. It's what makes recruiting difficult, prepare for the unknown."

Self said he did not do any in-depth checking for KU's other NBA prospects - freshmen Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright, as well as others like C.J. Giles and Sasha Kaun.

"They (NBA officials) are high on some guys on our team. All those guys were totally committed to coming back," Self said.

He is surprised ESPN as of the weekend, still had Chalmers and Wright considering entering the draft.

"I find it difficult to believe," Self said. "One of their fathers (Chalmers) works 15 feet, 20 feet from me on a regular basis. We only spend three hour a day together.

"The other one's mother has been absolutely awesome. We communicate with her on a regular basis," he said of Wright's mom in Chicago. "Nobody said they were considering that (leaving)."

Though Self believed Rush's prior statements that he would return, he continued to discuss the NBA Draft with KU's leading scorer in days leading up to Saturday's deadline.

"The last time I gave him information was probably eight days ago," Self said. "I was not worried he would leave. I was more concerned that he would make a decision that would be best for him over time. To me, leaving ... if it was best for him over time, it's what he should have done.

"All indications are he could help himself by sticking around. I think it's great Brandon is mature enough to make a decision that's best for he and his family over time as opposed to risking what could potentially be an unbelievable position (in draft) in the future."

Rush, who has said he needs to work on his left hand and defense and long-range shooting, has surprised some pundits who a year ago heard him say he was a definite one-year-and-out player. A year ago, he waited until the day before the final deadline to pull his name out of the draft.

"If you would have told me last year before I got to know him, this would be a surprise," Self said of landing Rush for two seasons. "After I got to know him ... he is enjoying being a college student. He knows he's gotten better and matured. I am so impressed with him and his thought process. Everybody is portraying him to be a guy who would come in and do well and get out. I've been very impressed to his commitment to school."

All KU underclassmen are staying, but the Big 12 could lose several who have entered their names. They are: LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, P.J. Tucker, Texas; Alecs Maric, Nebraska; Thomas Gardner, Missouri; Richard Roby, Colorado; and Curtis Stinson, Will Blalock, Iowa State. Only Aldridge will sign with an agent, leaving the possibility the others could return to college.

¢ Recruiting update: Darrell Arthur, 6-foot-9 from Dallas, visited LSU over the weekend with point guard recruit Scotty Reynolds. Arthur is considering KU, Baylor and LSU with many pundits insisting it's a done deal for LSU.

Self cannot comment on specific recruits in accordance with NCAA rules.

"We still have a couple of possibilities, probably long-shot possibilities," he said of adding any players to a class that includes Sherron Collins, Chicago Crane point guard, and Brady Morningstar, former Free State off guard.

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