Monday, May 25, 2009

Nick Calathes Goes Pro

It's official. What's interesting is that Calathes is officially leaving the NCAA, but he's also dropping out of the NBA Draft. Why? Because he's signing a contract with Panathinaikos, the top team in Greece. They just won the 2008-09 Euroleague Championship three weeks ago, so obviously Calathes is going to a top team. The current roster includes Sarunas Jasikevicius (probably best known for his years with the Indiana Pacers) and Drew Nicholas (made the All-ACC team a few years back with Maryland). I don't blame Calathes for making the move, since the salary he is due to make ($1.1 Million, not including things like a free house and car) is probably more than he was going to make if he stayed in the NBA Draft.

Needless to say, this is a tough loss for Florida. It seems as if they expected Calathes to stay for the same reason that I thought he would, the fact that he wasn't likely to be a first round draft pick. The reason I say this is that the Calathes defection seems to have caught them off guard, and they're supposedly scrambling to get into the Lance Stephenson race.

Now, I had warned that the loss of Calathes and Alex Tyus might drop Florida out of the Tournament altogether, but with Tyus changing his mind and sticking with the Gators, I still expect them to be a Tournament team. In addition to Tyus they'll also return Dan Werner and Chandler Parsons from the starting lineup, as well as Kenny Kadji, Erving Walker and Ray Shipman off the bench, not to mention blue chip recruits Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy. But I don't see how they have the talent to stay with Kentucky, or even Mississippi State. I think it's pretty clear that Tennessee will be better as well. That seems to put them in a battle with Vanderbilt, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina for the fourth SEC spot in the Tournament (and I do think that the SEC will get four or five Tournament teams in 2010). I'll have to re-evaluate their roster before the next BP65 (due out in about a month), but right now I see Florida as something like an 8-10 seed in March. Obviously that will change if they can grab Stephenson.

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