NBA Draft 2012: A Closer Look at Connecticut's Andre Drummond
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At this time one year ago, the nation's top high school center Andre Drummond was faced with a difficult decision: Would he remain in the 2012 recruitment class or reclassify himself into the 2011 class?
Drummond was originally in the 2011 class until he had to repeat his sophomore year after transferring schools—going from Capital Prep-Hartford to St. Thomas More. But because he was able to fulfill his graduation requirements after his junior year, he became eligible to make the switch back.
The 6'10" freak of nature had originally declared that he would attend Wilbraham & Monson Academy prep school for a year of post-graduate studies. Soon after this announcement, however, rumors started circulating that he was considering backing out of of this commitment to instead sign a National Letter of Intent to play for the Connecticut Huskies and help them defend their national championship.
Drummond quickly shot down this gossip, saying, "No way that happens."
Drummond's representatives—including his former coaches and even his own mother—also denied the reports. Connecticut Basketball Club AAU coach Joe Gaetano said in an interview just months before the 2012 college hoops season was set to begin, “He’s 2012 right now, and I think he’s staying that way.”
This is why the media went abuzz in late August when the big man finally did commit to the University of Connecticut. The reason for Drummond's last-minute change of heart is still a mystery, but his anticipated dominance excited college basketball enthusiasts across the country.
Debates were instantly sparked regarding who would be the top pick in the 2012 draft. As put by one front office executive, there were "seven or eight legitimate candidates."
The three most common names were North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Drummond.
Barnes' hype was at an all-time high. After failing to live up to expectations early on in his freshman season, he finished the year out strong. Then in the off-season, he played Kevin Durant down to the wire in a game of one-on-one. This earned him the praise of one NBA scout who deemed him the "top pick in the next draft, by far."
Likewise, Davis was appreciated for his size, athleticism, skill and defensive presence. He proved his abilities by dominating against the top high school players in the nation at the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic—where he took home co-MVP honors after scoring 29 points on 13-15 shooting.
Drummond, on the other hand, was much more of an enigma. He was said to have the athleticism of Dwight Howard with Chris Webber's passing skills, but no one really knew for sure how great he was. After all, there is a major difference between dominating relatively puny high school centers and going against the grown men found playing the position at the college and professional levels.
It became apparent early on that Drummond was nowhere near ready for the top tier D-I competition. He shot an abysmal 29.5 percent from the free throw line for the year, played a very insignificant role for the Huskies offensively and oftentimes looked lackadaisical or disinterested.
Where will Drummond more likely be in ten years?
But while his struggles have been well-documented, there has been very little mention of the many positives that he contributed in his sole season at Connecticut.
For one, he was among the top defensive players in the country. Given his size and strength, opposing players had a difficult time trying to post him up or get shots off on him. Drummond swatted away an impressive 2.7 blocks while only committing 2.2 fouls per game, a credit to his excellent timing. He also was very quick on his feet and able to competently defend the pick-and-roll.
Though his 7.6 total rebounds per game were very underwhelming for a player of his physical stature, he was decently active on the offensive glass, pulling down 3.4 offensive boards per game. He will need to learn to be more aggressive when boxing out and going after rebounds on the defensive end of the court at the next level. This is an adjustment that should be achievable if he has the desire—which has yet to be seen.
Drummond also had a Jim Calhoun-era freshman record 10 double-doubles, outdoing the likes of former Husky greats Emeka Okafor, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien.
The 18-year-old's most dominant game of the season was a 24-point, 8-board, 5-block performance on 11-12 shooting in an early season blowout victory against Holy Cross. Drummond also came up huge in conference games against West Virginia and Georgetown—and twice when going head-to-head with eventual Big East Defensive Player of the Year Fab Melo and the Syracuse Orange.
Unfortunately, consistency was the biggest issue for Drummond, as he could show flashes of brilliance one night, then do absolutely nothing the next.
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Drummond is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward player. He could very easily dwindle out of the league within a few years and cost a general manager his job, or he could develop into the best center in the league and bring his team numerous championships.
In the past few months, Drummond's stock has declined from potentially giving Davis a run for his money as the top overall selection to going anywhere in the 2-7 range. This could actually be a blessing in disguise for him as being in the right situation will be a major factor in determining how long and successful his career will be.
Drummond seems to lack the drive and discipline to do great things on his own. He needs a veteran presence to keep him focused and motivated in order to help him realize his potential. This is something Greg Oden lacked when he was selected by Portland in 2007 and has since blamed for his failure in the league.
Situations such as Charlotte and Sacramento would be nightmares for Drummond. Both teams have players who have grown accustomed to losing and are franchises lack a sense of direction. He would simply get lost in the chaos.
Washington, Cleveland, Portland and Golden State, on the other hand, are ideal destinations. They each have at least one solid big man veteran who could take Drummond under their wing—Nenê, Anderson Varejão, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Andrew Bogut respectively—as well as a foundation of young, talented players.
It will be very interesting to see how early—or late—a general manager takes the risk on Andre Drummond in the draft on June 28, one that could alter the course of their franchise in either an exceptionally fortunate or drastically catastrophic manner.
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