Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Luke Babbitt, Eniel Polynice Declare For Draft

I haven't been posting every time players declare for the NBA Draft because a lot of them return. To me, it's only news when we know for sure what a player will do, and two more important players have left for good over the past 24 hours: Luke Babbitt of Nevada and Eniel Polynice of Ole Miss.

Babbitt is the player that has much more NBA potential. He's projected by most to be a late first round pick, and is potentially even a late lottery pick if he can impress NBA general managers between now and the Draft. Polynice has basically no chance of being drafted, but he just graduated and appears to just be ready to move on with his life. He may choose to go play in Europe.

Interestingly enough, it's Polynice whose departure will probably have more effect on the 2011 NCAA Tournament. I picked Nevada to finish fourth in the WAC even with Babbitt returning, and while they might have moved up to third with Jahmar Young leaving New Mexico State, they were still going to be a long shot at-large team as well as at best a dark horse to win a WAC conference that should be dominated by a Utah State team that should actually be slightly improved from the squad that earned an at-large bid to the 2010 Tournament.

Polynice, on the other hand, was going to be a returning starter for an Ole Miss team that I picked to win the SEC West and to earn a 7 seed in the 2011 Tournament. Polynice led the team in assists in 2009-10, although Chris Warren was right behind and did it with a much better assist-to-turnover ratio, and is obviously the far better scorer. So Ole Miss won't miss a beat with Warren dominating the ball, and the Polynice loss really just hurts their depth at the guard position. Polynice's playing time will probably go mostly to Trevor Gaskins, but there won't be much else, putting a lot of pressure on Warren and Terrico White to play heavy minutes. The Ole Miss front court is long on depth but short on talent, which is why they started three guards this past season. The loss of Polynice means they'll likely go to two starting guards, putting extra pressure on that front court to produce next season.

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