Now that we are a month removed from the college basketball season, it is time to start focusing on the NBA Draft. In the next few entries I will examine the draft prospects of the three Gonzaga players who have a chance to hear their names called in June: Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, and Micah Downs.
Today, we look at Micah Downs.
Downs arrived in Spokane after a much-publicized transfer from Kansas. At the start of the 2005-2006 season Downs was a true freshmen, the #28-ranked recruit in the country, and part of an elite class for KU (and one that would go on to anchor the national championship team of 2008). However, Downs was very unhappy with the situation. After having a few solid outputs early on in the season, Downs slipped away as quickly as he came on.
That January, Downs announced that he had decided to transfer back to his home state of Washington and join the Zags program. There was much speculation about the reason behind not only that move, but the initial commitment to Kansas. Most believe that Downs originally went to KU because of pressure from his father, and that he transferred to GU to be closer to his girlfriend. The decision to transfer was publicly questioned by Jayhawks coach Bill Self, as well as Downs own father.
The attention behind Downs transfer made the expectations of his performance at GU even greater. Though he was expected to become a star of the team, Downs struggled to be anything more than a role player for the Zags.
Downs never broke the 10.0 ppg mark during his time in Spokane, with his best season being his senior year, the 08-09 season, when he averaged 9.1.
His inconsistent on-court play is worrisome enough, but Downs is also plagued by a lack of confidence or fortitude, which usually manifests itself on the court with poor body language and the occasional outburst.
One factor that could be enough to push Downs onto a lot of teams' draft boards is his ability to shoot from outside. Downs finished his college career shooting 39% from beyond the arc. That may be enough for teams to overlook some of the holes in his game.
Downs is also an exceptional defender. While his offensive game never developed into what many thought it would be, Downs made his mark on the GU program with his defense. Quick, athletic, and intuitive, Downs could make an NBA roster as a defensive specialist.
Downs may hear his name called in June by a team that is in need of an athletic defender who can occasionally contribute from beyond the arc. But it is more likely that Downs professional career will begin in the NBDL or overseas.