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Kids, Stay in School

Well, it’s too late for some now. As of June 15, all early entries in to the NBA Draft had to make their decision to stay or go. And some made the wrong decision.

From the list of 39 early entries, here are a few who really should have stayed on campus this fall:

Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky: Well, yeah. You know I had to get this one out of the way. He is underdeveloped in almost every area other than being a great scorer with a good NBA body. More importantly, he is ruining his chances of being a leader of a college championship team.

Meeks may be worried that his production could go down a bit if he comes back for his senior season, resulting in a drop in the draft. But what he he might be able to display in leadership to go with a quality run deep into the NCAA Tournament can easily make up for a few points off the season total. Plus, he’s a second-rounder at best. There is a lot more reward than risk in coming back to school in this case.

I just can’t say enough about this mistake from Meeks, clearly.

Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, UCLA: You look at the UCLA pedigree, the similar players that have preceded him (Farmar, Westbrook, etc.), the hype coming out of high school and it looks all good for Holiday. But the numbers don’t lie, and not only did Holiday not live up to expectations in his only year in college. Plainly, he faded down the stretch in Westwood. He averaged just 5.8 points in the final 10 games at UCLA, and this is for a team that was hurting for offense.

With Darren Collison leaving, Holiday would have had a full season to be the point man for UCLA by himself. The Bruins are bringing in another accomplished and tall recruiting class and they could be ready to make another Sweet 16 journey.

Yet, there are some people (coughChadFordcough) who really like Holiday and who think he could be a top-five pick. If that’s the case, then Holiday really has no choice but to go pro. But I don’t see that happening. He is a good passer and decent rebounder, and maybe he’ll grow into being a better scorer. But if Holiday falls into the mid-to-late teens in the draft, was it really worth it for him to go?

Farmar and Westbrook both played two years at UCLA, and another So Cal prospect, USC’s DeMar DeRozan, didn’t fade late in the year. Instead, tore up the Pac-10 tourney and may outshine Holiday as a pro, even though he is a freshman as well.

Oh stop.

Oh stop.

Eric Devendorf, PG, Syracuse: Early entries such as Devendorf are puzzling. He is like Meeks without the body and athleticism. Devendorf is just a shooter. He’ll shoot it often and he’ll tell you about it, too.

Devendorf is a hard guy to like. He nothing special, other than a streaky shooter, but if he makes two shots in a row, he’ll mug to the crowd, yell to the rafters, flex and put on a display like he’s Muhammad Ali and just knocked out Sonny Liston.

Devendorf doesn’t have the ability to be a point guard. He’s certainly not a leader. He has too much of a shoot-first mentality and he’s not great on defense. If anything, he’ll come off the bench in his NBA career. More likely, the man formerly known as the future Gerry McNamara at Syracuse will probably end up closer to that name than he would have hoped.

So what drives these players away from the college game? Do they think of themselves too highly? Devendorf isn’t a lock to drafted. Do they just want to make whatever type of money they can right now? Is there an issue with the school? Certainly, his suspension in December for punching a woman didn’t help his standing.

It’s a naive question, but I look mediocre players from big-name schools, such as Devendorf, and question what they are thinking. A few other players in that class this year include USC’s Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson (although they would have probably left anyway after the Floyd decbale), Texas A & M’s Chinemelu Elonu, Memphis’ Shawn Taggart, etc.

B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State: Remember Kousta Koufos? He was another OSU 7-footer who was one-and-done for the Buckeyes just last season. Like Mullens now, Koufos was predicted be a top-20 selection. Koufos was taken at No. 23 by the Kings and by March, he was a prestigious member of the NBA D-League.

It was only his rookie season and I know centers take the most time to mold among young players coming to the NBA, but it was an inauspicious beginning.

Now, here comes Mullens. Click on his name at the start of this entry and take a look at his stats again. He averaged about as half as many points as Koufos did in 2008 and it can’t be promising when a player who is 7-feet, 275 pounds averaged less than five rebounds a game.

To recap: Mullens was a below-average scorer in college and he didn’t show the amount of hustle needed to get a lot of rebounds or blocks.

But he’s 7-feet, so he’s a first-rounder. Classic NBA. I think this brilliant mind says it best.

I’ll probably write a running blog on NBA draft night, June 25. You’ll definitely hear from me before then, but follow along on that night as well. I am sure you are just as eager as me to see where these players are not picked.

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  1. June 22, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Padrick Brewer sucks and you know it.

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