The 2006 NBA Draft’s early-entry
results are in, so here’s a closer look at the winners and (potential) losers
among college programs:
April 3, when the Florida Gators
beat the UCLA Bruins in the national championship game in Indianapolis, was the
biggest night in the program’s history.
I’m not the one to put April 29 in
any pecking order for those who hold Florida basketball near and dear to their
hearts. But that day must rate way the heck up there.
That’s because the deadline for
college underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft pool came and went without
Joakim Noah, Al Horford or Corey Brewer sending paperwork to New
Noah was a near-lock bet to be the
No. 1 selection and fellow juniors-to-be Horford and Brewer were very safe
choices to be nabbed in the first round as well.
It’s now official: North Carolina
and Ohio State fans should be giddy about their favorite teams’ chances of
earning trips to Atlanta for the 2007 Final Four.
But the Gators should be the
overwhelming preseason choice for No. 1.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s
program has taken some very serious early-entry hits, most recently with the
simultaneous defections of freshman forward Luol Deng and the best high
school guard in his class, Shaun Livingston, in 2004.
But, as you read here last week,
the decision of 6-foot-10 Josh McRoberts to bypass a spot in the lottery
(for the second year in a row) and return for his sophomore season should keep
the Blue Devils slipping anywhere close to “bubble status” for an NCAA
tournament bid next March.
Even with Tyler Hansbrough
returning at North Carolina, it wouldn’t be startling if McRoberts led the
Atlantic Coast Conference in both scoring and rebounding next season.
At various times, NBA scouting
personnel thought that Jayhawks Chester Giles, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright and Mario Chalmers were each considering dipping their toes
into the NBA Draft waters.
But the sophomore post player
(Giles), who has yet to tap his considerable potential, and his freshmen
teammates bypassed the opportunity to do so and seem fully committed toward
helping the program last beyond the first round of an NCAA Tournament for the
first time since 2004.
The Jayhawks are being over-hyped
if you find them ranked 1 or 2 next fall. But they will be worthy of solid 5-10
consideration, for sure, and could dominate the Big 12 Conference.
There was never much buzz
surrounding the potential early departures of sophomores Jeff Green and
And return they will, giving Coach
John Thompson III a 1-2 post punch that will be at least the equal of the
majority of the others that will be on the floor next season.
The 6-8 Green, whose overall skills
would have wowed NBA general managers and scouting directors in workouts, is the
early choice here to be the 2006-07 Big East Conference Player of the
It’s difficult envisioning a
scenario in which point guard Ronald Steele and post Jermareo Davidson wouldn’t have been first-round selections had they elected to turn
With their return, along with the
likes of Richard Hendrix, the Crimson Tide could flirt with preseason Top
Tyler Hansbrough didn’t wait
for any buzz: He announced almost immediately following the conclusion of the
season that he would be back in Chapel Hill as a sophomore.
His NBA stock wasn’t as pronounced
last season as some would believe, based on his productivity, mostly down low,
for the Tar Heels.
But, with the influx of inside
strength (via Brandan Wright, Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson)
Roy Williams has coming in, Hansbrough should have a better opportunity to
demonstrate his perimeter skills, offensively and defensively, next
There might have been a few
Huskies’ fans overdosing on fantasy. But those more in touch with reality knew
going into the season that they were almost assuredly watching the college
swansongs of sophomore Rudy Gay and juniors Marcus Williams and
We can debate Rajon Rondo’s
strengths (long arms, quick hands and feet, as well as slick ball-handling
ability) and weaknesses (he can’t jump shoot, over-penetrates and gambles
defensively) all we want.
But Rondo was oh-so-headed for the
2006 NBA Draft long before he played his first game last season with the
He gave Hogs’ fans cause for
optimism by waiting until so close to the deadline to announce that he was
entering the draft pool (sans agent, of course).
But no one who evaluates NBA talent
for a living ever thought that 6-6 Ronnie Brewer was going to be back in
Fayetteville for a senior season with Coach Stan Heath’s
Barely a month into the season, the
word was out that 6-8 freshman Tyrus Thomas was going to turn
Glen Davis’ disastrous
performance against UCLA in the Final Four probably kept the Tigers from losing
both of their post players to the NBA prematurely.
With Kyle Lowry and fellow
starter Mike Nardi back, the Wildcats would have one of the best
backcourts in the country next season, even with the loss of seniors Randy Foye and Allan Ray.
And, with a (finally) healthy
Curtis Sumpter back at forward and the return of several other key
components from his Elite Eight team, Coach Jay Wright could have a
2006-07 squad capable of another deep NCAA Tournament run.
But Lowy’s decision to put his name
into the draft pool and the likelihood (even with a jump shot that NBA scouts
aren’t found of) that he will stay in the draft, the expectation level for
Villanova will have to be docked a couple of notches.
It was apparent from early in the
season that 6-10 LaMarcus Aldridge’s days in a Longhorns’ uniform were
But, unlike the slender Aldridge –
a probable Top Five selection, regardless of the eventual selection order – the
draft status of forward P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson isn’t nearly
as clear cut.
Barring sensation workouts (in
which they show things they didn’t demonstrate on a consistent basis with the
Longhorns last season), it’s likely neither would be a first-round selection on
Their NBA stock would be better
served by returning to Austin for another season. And, naturally, so would Coach
Rick Barnes’ 2006-07 team’s NCAA Tournament
The feeling in Westwood is that
sophomore guards Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo need to get total
assurance that they will be first-round choices in order to forfeit their final
two seasons as Bruins.
If that in fact does prove the
case, it’s much more likely that Afflalo will be back as a junior than it will
be that Farmar will be doing anymore playmaking for Coach Ben
No matter what Tigers’ fans might
believe, the talent pool in Coach John Calipari’s program doesn’t run
quite so deep that the loss of either sophomore guard Darius Washington
or freshman forward Shawne Williams wouldn’t be a major hit.
After all, they were the 30-3
team’s second and third leading scorers, and No. 2 rebounder (Williams) and
leading playmaker (Washington).
And the loss of both to the NBA
would drop the Tigers to near the bottom of most preseason Top 25s, and pull
them back to the rest of the Conference USA pack.
With Aaron Gray back at
center, the Panthers will challenge Georgetown and Syracuse to be the best in
the Big East.
With Gray in an NBA uniform, that
isn’t very likely to happen.
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame in 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at