The Five Key Decisions of the College Basketball Offseason
The college basketball offseason will shape the 2009-2010 season.
Many top players have decided to test the draft waters and have until June 15 to decide to return to their schools. Also, some top recruits have not yet declared where they plan to attend, and their decisions should come soon.
Without further ado, the top five decisions that will change the upcoming college basketball season:
Where this top recruit will go is the major story of the offseason. He still has eight schools as options: Kentucky, Duke, UNC, NC State, Kansas, Florida, Baylor, and Memphis.
He is an impact playmaker and the predicted No. 1 pick of the 2010 NBA Draft. If he chooses Duke or UNC, they would become the favorite for the 2010 National Championship. And Kansas, already a favorite, would become a threat to go undefeated, with Wall and Xavier Henry joining Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, and all of their key contributors from last year.
If he goes to Kentucky, they quickly become a top-15 team but could move up to the top five or even the ranks of title contenders, depending on the returns of Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson.
If he chooses Florida, they would be a Final Four sleeper, assuming Nick Calathes returns. He would keep Memphis atop Conference USA and in the national picture, and could bring NC State or Baylor to respectability.
Wherever he chooses, he will have an instant impact in his (probably) only college season.
Prediction: Wall attends Kentucky.
Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks
Patterson and Meeks would be the top two returning players to join John Calipari at Kentucky...that is, if they return. Both have declared for the NBA Draft, but neither has hired an agent, allowing them to return to school.
Meeks, who averaged 23.7 PPG last year, is a great scorer with good speed but lacks great size (he's 6’2”) and athleticism. He is projected as a second-round pick if he stays in the draft.
Patterson, who put up 18 points and nine boards per game last season, is a more interesting prospect. He has an NBA-ready body, great energy, and a good post game. However, some scouts worry about his size (anywhere from 6’7” to 6’9”). He is predicted to go between the 15th and 25th picks.
If these two return to join DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Ortan, Kentucky will be a top-10 team and a possible No. 1 if John Wall commits.
If not, the Wildcats will be a young team without much in the backcourt or around the two freshman big men.
Prediction: Patterson will stay in the draft, but Meeks will return to Kentucky.
Jeff Teague seemed to be a sure-fire top-10 pick in January as he led the Demon Deacons to national prominence. But he and the team slumped a little down the stretch and laid an egg in the tournament against Cleveland State. He is now predicted as a mid-first rounder, and scouts are unsure about his NBA position.
If he returns to Wake Forest, he would join Al-Farouq Aminu, Chas McFarland, and L.D. Williams to keep the Deacs near the top of the ACC, even without James Johnson. Without him, they are rebuilding, and without enough offensive firepower, probably headed to the NIT.
Prediction: Teague returns to Wake Forest.
Reynolds provided the moment of the 2009 Tournament with his drive and floater to bury Pittsburgh. He declared for the draft, but right now is a low-second-round pick. He is a good scorer, but is not really a true point or big/athletic enough to be a two-guard in the league.
If he returns to Villanova, he'll reunite with returning contributors Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Reggie Redding. They'll hopefully mesh well with newcomer Taylor King (from Duke) and freshmen Dominic Cheek, Mouphtauo Yarou, Maalik Wayans, and Isaiah Armwood.
While the 'Cats would be a top East team without Reynolds, he is their leader and best late-game scorer, and with him they are a Final Four and possible National Championship pick.
Prediction: Reynolds returns to Villanova.
Holiday is the key to UCLA retaining their position in the Pac-10.
He was a disappointment for most of this past year, averaging less than 9 PPG, but he is still predicted to be a first-round pick, and good offseason workouts could help him rise into the lower lottery.
Meanwhile, the Bruins will bring back Nikola Dragovic, Drew Gordon, Michael Roll, Malcolm Lee, and James Keefe and add a stellar recruiting class led by big man Tyler Honeycutt. But Holiday is the key.
With him, they are a top-20 team and will compete with Washington atop the Pac-10, but without him, they will have to fight to make the tournament field.
Prediction: Holiday stays in draft.
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