Showing posts with label 2010 NBA Draft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2010 NBA Draft. Show all posts

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bost + White Stay In Draft: SEC West Will Be Awful

The final NBA Draft decisions were made this weekend, and two final surprising entrants were Dee Bost of Mississippi State and Terrico White of Ole Miss. I talked a bit about the SEC West just a little more than a week ago (see here), and now that we know that Bost and White are gone, we can say for certain that the SEC West is going to be really bad next season.

Back in April it looked like Ole Miss was going to be the class of the SEC West. They were a borderline Top 25 team. But Terrico White is now leaving for the Draft after Eniel Polynice graduated and chose to go pro rather than use his last year of eligibility, and Murphy Holloway transferred out. Those three represent three starters that Ole Miss fans expected to return for another season who will leave. For now I'm dropping Ole Miss out of the Field of 68 (it does appear 68 is what we'll have) altogether.

I had thought that Mississippi State would jump ahead of their intra-state rival if Terrico White went pro, but the loss of Dee Bost might change that. The loss of Jarvis Varnado was already going to put heavy pressure on an offense that really wasn't all that good last season, and Bost was the primary offensive creator. He led the team with 5.2 assists per game, and their top returner will now be Phil Turner and his 1.4 per game. They have no returning scholarship point guards. Like Ole Miss, I'd put Mississippi State on the bubble but on the outside of the Tournament looking in for the time being. They're going to need Renardo Sidney, who should be eligible to play before the SEC regular season begins, to live up to the hype after not playing a competitive game in nearly two years.

And after the two Mississippi schools? The rest of the SEC West is in serious rebuilding mode. Arkansas, LSU and Alabama are probably another year away seriously competing for an NCAA Tournament bid. And Auburn, despite a very strong recruiting class, is probably at least two years away. The SEC West is likely going to have zero NCAA Tournament teams again, and the SEC as a whole is likely to be worse than it was last season.

Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida all look to be safe for the NCAA Tournament, and Vanderbilt is right on the bubble. South Carolina and Georgia could both be pesky, but I don't see either of them being a more serious Tournament contender than Ole Miss or Mississippi State. There's a real possibility of the SEC getting only three Tournament teams.

In fact, I think the SEC will be the worst of the BCS conferences next season. The Pac-10 will be much improved, with Washington, UCLA, USC, Arizona and Oregon all very likely to be improved. Washington State and Arizona State could be better as well.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Fredette To Return For His Senior Year

I haven't been posting after every single NBA Draft decision, mostly because a lot of them were expected. If the decision is identical to what I projected in my 2010-11 conference previews in April then I'm probably not going to talk about it. But one that I am going to talk about is Jimmer Fredette, who will return to BYU for his senior season.

Fredette is obviously a very good scorer, and he'll be the best player on BYU next season. But more importantly, BYU was really going to be starving for offense if Fredette left. Jonathan Tavernari graduated, Tyler Haws left for a mission, and Michael Loyd, Jr. is a transfer. If Fredette left I don't even know who their top scoring option would have become. Jackson Emery?

Even with the loss of Loyd, BYU probably remains the favorite to take the Mountain West since New Mexico will lose Darrington Hobson to the Draft. UNLV and San Diego State have a good shot as well, as those four teams are very hard to separate right now. I expect all four to be back in the NCAA Tournament next season.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gordon Hayward, Armon Bassett Staying In Draft

Reports now have both Butler's Gordon Hayward and Ohio's Armon Bassett staying in the NBA Draft for good. Both are similar Draft prospects: both are not likely to be very productive in the NBA next season if they even play in the NBA next season, but it makes some sense for both of them to leave now. Bassett was accused of assaulting somebody at a bar over the weekend and was suspended indefinitely by the university, meaning there's a chance he might not have even be allowed to play for the team next season. It makes sense not to risk that possibility. In Hayward's case, it makes sense that his stock might not ever get any higher after that run to the NCAA Championship game.

That said, Hayward should consider not just where he gets drafted, but how good of an NBA player he'll be, and in my opinion he's just not ready for the NBA. He's got NBA height, but he's got to add weight, and he's got to improve his shooting. Despite the impression that a lot of casual college basketball fans got during the NCAA Tournament, Hayward actually isn't a very good outside shooter. For the season he hit only 29.4% behind the arc. In the NBA, if you can't hit outside shots then you've either got to be lightning quick and able to beat your man off the dribble repeatedly, or you've got to be able to play the post. Hayward's obviously not that quick, and he's not big enough to play in the post. He needs another year or two to be ready. If he's lucky he'll get drafted and then stashed in either the D-League or in a high European league for a couple of seasons so he can get bigger and so he can work on his shot. It won't be good for him to get stuck on an NBA bench right away, because he's not going to play.

Armon Bassett likely won't be drafted at all, but I don't think another year in college is going to change that much. He is who he is. He might eventually become a decent NBA bench player, but most likely his future will be in Europe. With the risk of not being able to play at all next season, he might as well get to go through the NBA Draft process and get paid, wherever he ends up.

The loss of Hayward will have national implications, as Butler is projected by many to be a Final Four contender for next season. I had projected them as the final two seed in my preseason 2010-11 BP65. Losing their best player and only legitimate national star is going to have many implications. There's now going to be a ton of pressure on Matt Howard to stop his foul troubles which have severely limited his minutes his entire career, because if he's out then Butler is going to get very small very quickly. Avery Jukes graduates, meaning that Howard is the only returner over 6'3" that earned more than six minutes per game last season. 6'11" Andrew Smith will likely get a big increase in playing time next season, and he did show some good potential in the Butler games that I watched, and they'll also look to Garrett Butcher and Khyle Marshall to eat up a lot of minutes. Butler's top Horizon League rivals will still be a ways back. Cleveland State and Wright State are the top contenders, and both could potentially end up in the RPI Top 100. Detroit is the best of the rest, with UW-Milwaukee something of a sleeper. But I don't think any of those teams will seriously challenge Butler, even without Hayward. But their seed will dramatically drop. They're probably looking at something like a 5-9 seed in the NCAA Tournament now.

As for Ohio, I had picked them as the favorites to win the MAC in 2010-11, but that's likely going to change now as Bassett was the offensive spark that led the team to the 2010 NCAA Tournament after transferring in from Indiana. D.J. Cooper was electric as a freshman, and if Ohio does manage to repeat as MAC champion then it's going to be because he took a leap and became one of the stars of the MAC. The conference is going to be wide open next season now, with Akron and Miami of Ohio looking to be among the favorites. Kent State is a sleeper after losing five of their top seven players from the team that won the MAC regular season title in 2010, but with a very good and very deep recruiting class coming in to replace them. Right now I'm leaning toward Akron as the new favorite, but I'll have to put more thought into it. The MAC will certainly be one of the most wide open conferences in the nation in 2010-11.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Samardo Samuels In Draft For Good

Samardo Samuels has surprised a lot of people with the news that he's hiring an agent and leaving for the NBA Draft. Samuels came into Louisville a very highly touted recruit, and after a disappointing start he really came on in the second half of the 2009-10 season. His performances were a big reason why Louisville snuck into the NCAA Tournament. That said, he still has some developing to do, and he's projected at best a late second round Draft pick. Most people don't think he'll be drafted at all. If I were an NBA team I'd take a shot on him late in the second round and I'd stash him in the D-League, but nowadays most teams prefer to use those late picks on European players that they can leave with their European teams for a couple of years until they're ready, because teams love having prospects they don't have to pay for.

That all said, the real question for this blog is what this will do to Louisville, and it's going to be devastating. They lose their starting backcourt of Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith, meaning that they'll be very thin at the guard position. In my 2010-11 Big East preview I said that while I didn't think they'd contend for the Big East title, I thought they'd make the NCAA Tournament because they'd be so good in the frontcourt. The loss of Samuels changes all of that. There will be a lot of pressure on the freshman class just to get them back to the Tournament. In my opinion, they're a bubble team right now.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Ole Miss Loses Yet Another Starter

Andy Kennedy is good at coaching his players, but he's also clearly struggling to keep kids from leaving his program. And just a couple of weeks after finding out that Eniel Polynice would pass on his final season of eligibility, news came yesterday that Murphy Holloway will transfer out. This marks the fourth starter in less than two years who has left the program for reasons other than graduation or the NBA. Malcolm White left via transfer, David Huertas left to play pro ball in Puerto Rico, Polynice left to either play pro ball somewhere other than the NBA or just to move onto a non-basketball job (since he has graduated from school), and now Holloway is going to transfer (no word yet on where he's thinking of going). And Terrico White is still looking at leaving for the NBA (he's projected as a borderline first round pick, meaning that with so many other players leaving he might see no incentive to return for his junior year).

Even if Terrico White does return, this still is devastating to Ole Miss for 2010-11. Even though White is considered to have more NBA potential, Holloway was probably the best player on Ole Miss in 2009-10. White scored a little bit more, but Holloway was more efficient, and he also was the team's primary rebounder. There is suddenly huge pressure on DeAundre Cranston and Reginald Buckner to develop quickly as big men to fill a lot of the rebounding void.

While all of these losses could cost Ole Miss a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, they still might be the favorite to win the awful SEC West (see my original 2010-11 SEC preview here), particularly if NBA Draft decisions go their way. Arkansas is already losing Courtney Forston and will be very unlikely to challenge seriously for the SEC West, but Mississippi State is still waiting on decisions from Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson. Renardo Sidney says he'll be back (he'll have to sit out approximately the first nine games, but he'll be back well in time for the SEC regular season), so if Bost and Johnson do opt out of the Draft, and if Terrico White stays in the Draft, then Mississippi State probably will jump Ole Miss as the SEC West favorite. I don't think any other team has much of a chance other than the two Mississippi schools. LSU and Alabama are both rebuilding and are probably a year away from seriously competing, although they could be pesky. Auburn is going to be awful.

In all, the SEC has been devasted by defections across the board, and looks to actually be weaker next season. In fact, there's a chance the Pac-10 might pass them, making the SEC the worst BCS conference. We know Tennessee will be elite again, and while Kentucky will take a step back they're still going to have about five future NBA players on the roster. Florida should be improved and safely into the NCAA Tournament as well. But after that, what? Vanderbilt is a bubble team, and after that I don't think any other team looks to be Tourney bound at the moment. Ole Miss is the only other team with a good chance, if they can get White back. But with so many other players leaving the team, with a high likelihood of at least being a high second round draft pick, and with the potential of a 2011 NBA lockout looming, I'd probably advice Terrico White to leave now.

Friday, April 30, 2010

BYU Loses Michael Loyd, Jr.

BYU had an extremely successful 2009-10 season. They were rated in the Top Ten in the nation by Sagarin and Pomeroy for much of the year, and I still believe that they would have made the Final Four out of the West Regional if Jacob Pullen didn't shoot out of his mind against them in the second round. And they looked to be primed to be right back next season without too much graduating (Jonathan Tavernari and Chris Miles are the only two from the nine man rotation who graduated).

But BYU is rapidly shedding players. Tyler Haws, who really impressed me as a true freshman, is going off on his mission and will miss the entire season. Jimmer Fredette is on the fence for the NBA. And now Michael Loyd, Jr. is transferring out. Loyd was a player who was fairly anonymous on the BYU bench until the big late regular season battle against New Mexico when, with Fredette severely ill and the Mountain West regular season title on the line, Loyd exploded for 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting in 24 minutes off the bench. He took his game to another level in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 26 points against Florida. If Fredette goes, and with Haws gone, the one player who could fill that scoring void was going to be Loyd. With Loyd gone, BYU absolutely has to keep Fredette, or they're going to have tremendous trouble scoring.

I'm a big Tyler Haws fan, and I believe he can be that go-to scorer for BYU when he gets back from his mission, but BYU has to have Fredette back for this coming season or they'll be in serious risk of missing the NCAA Tournament altogether.

Friday, April 23, 2010

WAC Is Being Decimated By NBA Defections

The WAC was fairly strong this past season. It was rated the 11th best conference by Sagarin, which is the highest it's been since 2006-07, when the conference was led by a Nevada team that was led by three future NBA Draft picks (Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions were drafted at the end of the season, and Javale McGee went in the first round the following season). While only Utah State was an at-large quality team this past season, the conference did end up with four teams in the RPI Top 80, and it ended up with two Tournament teams when Utah State was knocked off in the WAC tournament and earned an at-large bid.

Heading into 2010-11 it seemed to me that Utah State would be improved, and I picked them to easily win the WAC, but I also picked New Mexico State, Fresno State and Nevada to all be quality teams behind them. But only days after the 2009-10 season ended, New Mexico State lost star Jahmar Young to the Draft. Nevada then lost Armon Johnson and possible lottery pick Luke Babbitt. And today comes the news that Fresno State will lose its leading scorer and rebounder Paul George to the Draft.

Certainly this means that Utah State will now go from being the WAC favorite to being the heavy, heavy WAC favorite. But there are downsides to being in a weakened conference, which is that you've got to go almost undefeated to earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid if you get upset in the conference tournament. It's worth noting that the Selection Committee basically admitted that Utah State got bumped up a few spots in the "S curve" beyond where their overall resume deserved because the Committee had respect for the 14-2 record they put up in the WAC, and that if not for that extra respect they might have gotten left out. Will they get the same respect for going 14-2 next season? Unlikely. I think they'll need a big scalp or two in their out-of-conference schedule to firm up their resume just in case.

As for the rest of the conference, one winner out of this is Louisiana Tech, a team that finished in fourth place this past season but lost a lot to graduation. They have a lot of young talent but I thought 2010-11 would be a rebuilding season for them as they primed up for the 2011-12 season. But with the other teams I put ahead of them losing so much to the Draft (I had picked Louisiana Tech to finish fifth in the WAC in 2010-11), there's no reason the Bulldogs can't surprise people again and actually finish higher than they did in 2009-10.

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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Greg Monroe Declares For The NBA

After Georgetown was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Ohio, their star, Greg Monroe, insisted that he'd be back for another season. You're never supposed to believe what people say right after the season ends, but the way that he insisted made me believe him, and I made Georgetown the favorite to win the Big East and to earn a 1 seed. Turns out that once he had some more time to think about it he changed his mind, as he's now going into the NBA Draft.

Monroe is a supremely talented and unique player. Not only is he very athletic, but he's a great passer. When Georgetown fed him the ball and he was aggressive the Hoyas were one of the best teams in the country this past season, and were just going to be even better with another year of seasoning. The loss of Monroe obviously means Georgetown will no longer be the favorite in the Big East. There's a good chance that the Big East won't have any elite teams next season, although the media hype usually assures the Big East at least a single 1 seed. To me, the favorite to take the title is now Pittsburgh. Other possible contenders are Syracuse and Villanova. West Virginia and Georgetown are long shots.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Mexico State Loses Young To Draft

New Mexico State's Jahmar Young is reportedly leaving for the Draft. This would have been a surprise if you'd told me about this last week, because almost nobody is projecting him to get drafted, but things changed this past week when he was arrested for assaulting a peace officer. Young has been arrested multiple times since being at New Mexico State, and now that he's being charged with a felony he could be in really big trouble. It's very possible that New Mexico State might not have allowed him back even if he wanted to come back. It's too bad, because he has so much natural talent. He was far and away the star of this year's New Mexico State team, which made the Tournament on the back of 20.3 points per game. He was no volume scorer, either, hitting 51% on two pointers, 37% on three pointers, and 84% at the line.

New Mexico State was primed to be even better next season than they were this past season. When I was putting together my preseason Field of 65 they were one of the first teams I left out of the bracket, and I put them right on the bubble. With Young gone they are obviously no longer a bubble team.

One team that benefits from this? Utah State. They are now the very heavy favorites to dominate the WAC. It was a nervous Selection Sunday for them last month after they got knocked out in the WAC tournament by New Mexico State. They're looking to avoid that stress this coming season.