Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Staying In The Draft: Klay Thompson, Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, Troy Gillenwater

This is the second of two posts talking about players that made the decision at the deadline to stay in the NBA Draft and to end their collegiate careers. The first post is here.

Klay Thompson of Washington State: This was expected. Thompson could have gone into the 2010 NBA Draft and possibly gone in the first round. This time around he's considered a near lock for the first round, and could be a lottery pick. Thompson was Washington State's singular star the past three seasons, and his absence will obviously be felt, but I still expect Wazzu to be a good team next year. They were an unlucky team this past season, and were better than their won-loss record would suggest, and they return everybody other than Thompson and add a couple of good recruits as well. Even assuming that Thompson would go pro I still picked Washington State to finish third in the Pac-12, with a 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph of Texas: With Jordan Hamilton already declaring for the NBA Draft, Texas now loses three players early to the NBA Draft. Along with four graduations they lose seven players from their nine man rotation, including their best shooter (Joseph), their best scorer (Hamilton), their best perimeter defender (Dogus Balbay) and their best interior defender (Thompson). They do return J'Covan Brown and Alexis Wangmene, and get back Clint Chapman (who missed the 2010-11 season with a redshirt), and they have a big time recruiting class coming in. Thinking that 2011 recruit Myck Kabongo could be a better-shooting version of Dogus Balbay at the point, and assuming that Thompson and Joseph would be back I picked Texas to win the Big 12 and to earn a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously that will not come to pass now.

Texas is really going to drop off without Thompson and Joseph. At this point I think Kansas is the new favorite to win the Big 12, and I'll also drop Texas below Texas A&M as long as the Aggies don't really mess up in hiring their new coach. I might even drop Texas behind Baylor and into fourth place. I see them in the 5-7 seed range in the NCAA Tournament. There simply might not be another team as devastated by the NBA Draft this year as Texas is.

Troy Gillenwater of New Mexico State: If you follow the WAC you know that this is a huge decision by Gillenwater. Utah State has dominated the conference the past couple of years, but they were a senior-laden team in 2010-11 and will be decimated by graduations. New Mexico State was a team that would have been bubble quality if all of their players had been healthy. Assuming Gillenwater was coming back, and with Wendell McKines coming back from injury, I picked New Mexico State to win the WAC in 2011-12 and to earn a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament. I still think that the winner of the WAC is only going to earn a 13 or 14 seed next season, but Utah State might be the favorite again. Right now the conference looks like a close three way race between Utah State, New Mexico State and Nevada. Fresno State is a sleeper.

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