In part two of my look at the upcoming 2008 NBA Draft, we'll examine the junior class and ask the question, "Should they stay in school, or go pro?"
But before I get to the class of 2009, there is something I want to clarify. These opinions are based on what I feel is best for the player. I factor projected placement in the draft, as well as each players specific game and how it will translate to the NBA.
Just because a player is projected to be drafted in the first round, it does not mean that player should automatically leave school.
Take UCONN center Hasheem Thabeet. The 7'3 sophomore is projected to go around pick 15 if he enters this years draft. To me, going back to school and refining your game is the smart decision, because at 7'3, he could go a LOT higher than 15 in a year or two.
Sure, you run the risk of injury if you go back to school, but tragic stories of legit NBA-ready players that went back for one more year of college only to have a career ending injury are few-and-far between.
That said, let's take a look at the top juniors in this years draft class, starting with:
Darren Collison, PG, UCLA-- Aside from being the fastest player on the court, Collison has a substantial offensive game, scoring almost 15 points per game. At 6'1, he might be a tad over-matched on the defensive end against bigger point guards, but his quickness should more than make up for it. Decision: Go Pro
Lester Hudson, PG, UT-Martin -- Hudson is the current front-runner for this year's "Steal" of the draft. He is a big guard at 6'3, and can score the rock, averaging over 25 points per game. The talent gap between the Ohio Valley Conference and the NBA is the biggest detractor, along with Hudson's tendency to try and make the spectacular pass, resulting in just under four turnovers per game. Decision: Go Pro
Brandon Rush, SF, Kansas -- Rush leads the Jayhawks in scoring, at 13 points per game. Coming off a knee injury, Rush played well enough this season to warrant a jump to the NBA. Risking hurting the knee again is just not worth it. Decision: Go Pro
Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG, Memphis-- It's surprising that only two Tigers averaged double figures in scoring this year; Derrick Rose (14.4) and Douglas-Roberts (17.5). "CDR" is long and versatile, able to score in a variety of ways. He has nothing left to prove by staying in school. Decision: Go Pro
Richard Hendrix, PF, Alabama -- Hendrix averaged 18 points and 10 boards for the Crimson Tide this season. His 54% free throw shooting is a glaring weakness, and the SEC was a notch below what it has been the past few seasons. One more year in school could push Hendrix into the late first round. Decision: Stay In School
Trent Plaisted, PF, BYU-- Plaisted averaged just under 16 points and 8 boards for the Cougars. Quick for his size (6'10", 245), Plaisted is rumored to run the 40 yard dash in 4.4 seconds. He raises his game against top-notch talent, as evident by his 24 point, 17 rebound performance against North Carolina earlier this year. Decision: Go pro
Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC-- Hansbrough plays harder than anyone I've ever seen. His hardworking style will have to make up for the size discrepancy he's likely to face in the NBA, being only 6'9". To me, Hansbrough is the ultimate college player. If UNC doesn't win it all this year, then they'll be in a great position to win the championship next year. If they do win it this year, a shot at back-to-back is a distinct possibility. Decision: Stay In School