Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hansbrough, Mayo, UNC Clear Favorites?

A quick look at the two biggest college basketball stories of the past couple of weeks:

OJ Mayo reportedly received a slew of gifts during his year at USC, in addition to his high school years. On the heels of the Reggie Bush thing, USC could definitely be in a lot of trouble here. I've talked about this before, but this is why schools need to be so wary of these one-and-done players. If they're kids who end up being good players and good people (like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were) then your school can profit. But if it's a semi-professional like OJ Mayo who refuses to give the head coach his direct cell phone number, it can be disastrous. What did USC get out of Mayo anyway? A first round exit. And the wake of his brief time in Los Angeles could prove disastrous for a program that still has a lot of talent. Don't be shocked to see USC's entire athletic department stripped of scholarships or put on probation. We'll have to follow this story to see just how much it blows up.

Tyler Hansbrough shocked a lot of people by coming back for one more season. Ty Lawson, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington are still in the NBA draft for now, but all might very well come back. My preview for the 2008-09 season presumed that Hansbrough would go pro but everyone else would stay. And that was good enough for me to put UNC #1 overall. I think most observers would put UNC and Texas as the clear two best teams as we head into the summer, with a drop-off to the rest of the country. So what does this change in UNC's roster mean? I don't think Ellington or Green would be a huge loss if they stay in the draft, because athletic, high scoring two-guards can always be replaced at a school like North Carolina. The bigger worry is Ty Lawson, whose creativity and play-making were so essential last season. You saw his importance last season as the team struggled mightily when he was injured (at least relative to how they played when he was healthy).

So is North Carolina the consensus #1 now that Hansbrough is back? If Ty Lawson comes back also, then I say yes. Regardless of the draft status of Ellington or Green, North Carolina should be the clear #1 team in the nation to start next season if Lawson stays in Chapel Hill for one more year. If Lawson leaves then I'll still keep North Carolina as my #1 overall, but the gap between them and their competition will decrease dramatically. My guess is that the pollsters will agree with me, and start the Tar Heels #1 overall no matter what.

If you want to stay updated on the draft status of key players on the top teams, check out this Andy Katz piece. If you want a full list of all players entered in the draft without any commentary whatsoever, you can actually check the Wikipedia article on the NBA draft here. Remember that we only have a little bit over a month until the deadline to withdraw from the draft (June 16th). The NBA draft itself happens on the 26th of June, and the next BP65 will be up by July 3rd at the latest.