Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stay or go?

Conference stars ponder big question

April 16, 2008


As many as eight Big 12 basketball players could leave the college ranks early for the NBA. Some decisions were no-brainers. Others should use their brains and return to school to further develop their games:

Michael Beasley, Fr., K-State

Decision: Beasley, who held a news conference Monday, declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

Analysis: Good decision. Obvious decision. The freshman, who averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, will be drafted either No. 1 or No. 2 overall. mock position: No. 1, Miami

Bill Walker, Fr., K-State

Decision: Walker made himself eligible for the draft Monday, but didn't hire an agent. That means he can withdraw his name before the draft and return to K-State for his sophomore season.

Analysis: Nice idea by the freshman, who averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds, to leave the possibility open to return to Manhattan. It would be the right move.

If you combine Walker's 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame with his basketball talent, his second-round mock draft status is a joke. He's a first-round talent, but his nonchalant demeanor on the court seems to be costing him draft spots.

Playing alongside Beasley could have cost him draft spots, too. All the more reason to return to Manhattan next year. Prove you can be a viable No. 1 option. Prove that without O.J. Mayo (summer 2005 teammate) and Beasley, you can carry a team. After such a scenario, that draft status might change from No. 40 to a lottery pick. mock position: No. 40 (second round), New Jersey

D.J. Augustin, Soph., Texas

Decision: After winning the Bob Cousy award, given to the nation's top point guard, Augustin said he'd make a decision on the NBA Draft in the next week or two. If we take that answer literally, we should hear an answer by Monday.

Analysis: No argument here if Augustin's NBA bound.

There are reasons, though, to stay at UT. Was Augustin truly the best point guard in the nation, as the Cousy award states, after facing Derrick Rose and Memphis in the Elite Eight? Another year of fine-tuning his game would benefit Augustin.

Consider UT's starting lineup next year if he stays: Augustin, A.J. Abrams, Justin Mason, Damion James and Connor Atchley (same team that reached the Elite Eight this year). In such a scenario, Texas would be the favorite in the Big 12 and could have the best starting five in the nation. mock position: No. 11, Indiana

Brandon Rush, Jr., Kansas

Decision: Rush, who declared for the NBA Draft twice before the 2007-08 season, is expected to declare a third time.

Analysis: No surprise here. Had it not been for Rush tearing his ACL last May, he would have been NBA-bound already. mock position: No. 25, San Antonio

Darrell Arthur, Soph., Kansas

Decision: Arthur hasn't announced his plans, yet it's widely believed he will join Rush in the NBA.

Analysis: Of the Jayhawk trio contemplating the NBA jump, Arthur likely has the highest ceiling. Arthur may not have ever single-handedly dominated a game in his college career, but he never had to since KU had more offensive weapons than Tom Brady and the Patriots during Arthur's two-year stint in Lawrence. As he matures, he could average 20 points and 10 rebounds in the NBA by his mid-20s. mock position: No. 21, New Jersey

Mario Chalmers, Jr., Kansas

Decision: Chalmers hasn't announced any NBA intentions yet.

Analysis: If Chalmers returns to Lawrence, there's no reason KU couldn't make a run at UT for the Big 12 title. The Jayhawks wouldn't have the talent of the Longhorns, but Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich sound like nice focal points. mock position: No. 27 overall in 2009

Blake Griffin, Fr., Oklahoma

Decision: Griffin has already decided to return to Norman, Okla. for next year.

Analysis: Brilliant decision. Griffin played much of the season with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, then partially tore the medial meniscus cartilage in his other knee. He still averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in 33 games.

Next year, decently high expectations will surround OU, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament this year. mock position: No. 2 overall in 2009

DeAndre Jordan, Fr., A&M;

Decision: Jordan declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft. Like Walker at K-State, Jordan didn't hire an agent and could return to College Station next season.

Analysis: If there's any Big 12 NBA prospect who needs to return to school, it's Jordan. Granted, he's a freak athlete (7-0, 260 pounds) with rare speed for a center his size. Jordan's ceiling is compared to the talents of Dwight Howard.

It's time to temporarily stop the Howard comparisons, though. At the same age, Howard was considerably better prepared for the NBA. He averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first season. Jordan's chances of averaging similar numbers next year are minimal, at best. mock position: No. 10, New Jersey


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