Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Darius Morris and Terrence Jennings Both Staying In Draft

Michigan's Darius Morris is officially gone to the NBA Draft, as is Louisville's Terrence Jennings. Both are definitely surprise entrants.

In retrospect, it makes sense for us to get a few surprising players into the Draft this year. With the Draft class already thought to be weaker than usual, and with several high profile players deciding to stay for another season (Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, etc), agents will have an easy job convincing players that they'll go higher in the Draft this season than next season even if they improve over the next 12 months.

The loss of Morris is devastating for a Michigan team that is being picked by many people to finish second in the Big Ten, although I had picked them to finish third behind Wisconsin (I agree with absolutely everybody else that Ohio State will be the heavy, heavy favorite to win the conference). Michigan has a lot of shooters, but they're undersized and lack athleticism, and Morris was the key playmaker on the team. Tim Hardaway, Jr. was the only other player who could create his own shot, and he wasn't half the player Morris was, and often spent long stretches on the bench since he was superfluous when Morris was on the floor and playing well. You can read posts I wrote back in November and December (here and here, for example) basically begging Morris and Hardaway to take over the Michigan offense, and Michigan really turned things around in Big Ten play with Morris's improved play and confidence. There will now be a ton of pressure on Hardaway to play the role of Darius Morris next season. He'll have to be more consistent, and Michigan will also need another player who can handle the ball when Hardaway takes a rest on the bench. I still think Michigan will be a Tournament team, but they'll drop quite a bit from the 5 seed I had them at.

Terrence Jennings wasn't as important to Louisville as Morris was to Michigan, but he was the team's best interior defender, and was capable of scoring on offense if you didn't keep away from the basket and away from rebounds. The pressure to replace Jennings will be on Gorgui Deng, who played well as a freshman, and basically was a raw version of Jennings - he's very athletic and similarly built physically. He can be the defensive force that Jennings was, but he needs to tighten up his offensive game. I had projected Louisville to finish second in the Big East, and with a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but that will drop now. I have almost two months before my next BP68 comes out, so I have time to think more about this, but I will most likely drop them to the range of a 4 or 5 seed.

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