Archive for Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Aldridge league’s sure thing

Seven other Big 12 players could pull out of draft

May 2, 2006

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Of the eight Big 12 Conference players who have declared for the NBA Draft, just one - Texas' LaMarcus Aldridge - is a certain first-round pick.

The other seven - UT's Daniel Gibson and P.J. Tucker; Iowa State's Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson; Missouri's Thomas Gardner; Colorado's Richard Roby and Nebraska's Aleks Maric - have not hired agents and presumably will pull their names out of the draft if they hear they will not be late-first or early to mid second-round picks.

"I don't expect they will all be back," Kansas University coach Bill Self said, realizing next year's Big 12 race will be affected by the June 28 draft. "I expect some to test the waters and some to pull their name out. I don't know exactly who that will be. I do believe there will be more than LaMarcus stay in."

Simple math suggests most of the Big 12 applicants won't be taken in the first round, some not taken at all. ESPN's Chad Ford reports that at least 40 underclassmen and 20 international players under the age of 22 are expected to be on the list of early entries to be released by the league this week.

That's 60 players with just 60 total picks in the two-round draft. With dozens of seniors and other international players hoping to be picked, there won't be room for all the hopefuls.

"The thing that amazes me," Self said, "is you probably have 60, 75 guys told they are a potential first-round draft pick. It makes it tough on these players. You have certain individuals giving them information that may be accurate, may not be.

"One scout might say somebody is a late first-rounder. The thing is, it's not about one scout. It's about a collection of scouts and directors of player personnel. You have to talk to them and see what a team's needs are.

"If a guy is a wing and a team tells you they will only take a point guard or center, it would lead you to the direction they'll probably go."

Self spoke to a majority of NBA teams about the possible draft status of KU's Brandon Rush, who has decided to return for his sophomore season. There was no guarantee the 6-6 Rush would be taken in the first round, so he's returning for another year.

Self hopes other Big 12 players follow Rush's lead and pull out of the draft if staying won't benefit themselves and their families. The withdrawal deadline for early entrants who didn't hire agents is June 18.

"If they build momentum positively during workouts (for NBA teams) I'd imagine they'd stay (in draft)," Self said of the Big 12 players. "There are some risks. You hope everybody makes the best possible decision."

ESPN reports that a year ago, 61 college underclassmen, 12 high school seniors and 35 international players declared for the 2005 draft. Fifty of those players withdrew their names before the deadline. This year, high school seniors are ineligible for the draft.

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