It happens every year—a collegiate basketball star elects to turn pro despite a year or more of remaining eligibility and proceeds to regret the decision almost immediately. The 2014 NBA draft is certainly no different.
The bigger system is at fault here and certainly the crux of an epidemic that still needs addressed, but one has to also question the players and those in their ears when it comes to these horrific decisions.
Whether it's a player who simply needs more development or one who poorly misjudges his stock and loses millions, there are a few prospects who stick out as candidates who fit the bill this year.
Nick Johnson, Arizona
It's a strange decision to see Nick Johnson on his way to the NBA, rather than using his senior year to develop his all-around game.
Of course, one has to look past the fact he was an All-American and the 2014 Pac-12 Player of the Year first, not to mention a gaudy stat line that featured averages of 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 43.2 percent shooting from the field.
The fact remains Johnson may have a tough time at the pro level thanks to his stature at 6'3" and 200 pounds. He's a tad short to play the 2, but he doesn't exactly have a skill set that screams point guard.
Johnson touts other traits the pros should love, per Steve Rivera of Fox Sports:
I'm going to show what I bring to the table, so many things as far as my leadership and my ability to defend and knock down shots. If you ask me, I'm a basketball player. Put me on the court and I'm going to defend, it doesn't matter if the guy is shorter or taller than me. I'm going to get into it on defense and make plays on offense. That's who I am as a player.
It's a seemingly shortsighted decision by Johnson. He could have had another run as a senior with a wildly talented squad, put on a show in the Big Dance and used the momentum to cement himself as a high pick.
Now? Not so much.
Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State
There's an allure about Sim Bhullar the NBA is surely monitoring—he's 7’5” and 355 pounds.
This is what 7-5 New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar looks like next to a normal-sized person (his coach): pic.twitter.com/TCkiXEfR3m— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) March 21, 2014
So what's the problem? Bhullar posted averages of just 10.4 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last year against the WAC and can be seen on film struggling to keep up due to poor conditioning.
Then again, there are apparent strong reasons for Bhullar to make the jump, as explained by Jason Groves of The Las Cruces Sun-News:
Critics quick to point out Bhullar's lack of conditioning as a reason he wouldn't be a successful pro are missing the fact that after two record-setting seasons at NMSU, Bhullar gains nothing from going against 6-foot-5 post players in the Western Athletic Conference. Or that college players are limited to eight hours a week with the NMSU coaching staff this time of year.
Men of Bhullar's stature don't have a proven track record of long-tenured careers, at least not in the NBA. He suffered a foot injury during his redshirt season of 2011-12, then missed five games this year with another foot injury.
Those are reasons to support, but Bhullar is taking just as much of a risk entering the league—perhaps undrafted—if his stamina and game never improve. He may be out of the league and never given a second chance after his rookie year, rather than working on everything for another year at the collegiate level.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
What in the world is James Michael McAdoo doing?
At 6'9" with a wicked wingspan, McAdoo has an NBA body. The rest simply hasn't progressed after deciding to return to Chapel Hill last year. He shot worse than 50 percent from the floor and hardly did better from the foul line, not to mention he offered little on the glass with a rebounding average less than seven.
CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb put it best:
James Michael McAdoo is like Nick Johnson,both will be 2nd rounders, would be better off staying to try and get to a Final Four— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) April 3, 2014
McAdoo desperately needs another year of development, which he would have got with yet another elite recruiting class inbound. As the senior leader for the Tar Heels on what may turn out to be a deep NCAA tournament run, McAdoo would have been in the spotlight and elevated his stock.