On Feb. 2, 2008, I saw Anthony Randolph play against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The freshman phenom had a respectable game, scoring 13 (on 4-14 shooting) and grabbing 12 rebounds en route to LSU's ninth loss in its last 10 games.
A month later, I saw Randolph absolutely dominate the Tide in Baton Rouge.
He connected on 10-of-16 shots and hit all nine of his free throws on his way to a career-high 29 points. He also added five rebounds and five blocks. LSU won the game by six.
That's somewhat inconsistent, but what college freshman hasn't been?
Most of them these days turn out to be future All-Stars anyway.
I'm not so optimistic.
Take a look at the last two top-five draft picks from LSU.
In 2000, Stromile Swift was taken by the Vancouver Grizzlies with the second overall pick. He was coming off a year at LSU in which he averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and over two blocks per game.
This past season, Randolph averaged almost 16 points, eight rebounds and over two blocks per game.
Eerily similar numbers for the athletic NBA prospect.
To date, Swift's career averages are 8.6 points and 4.7 rebounds. This constitutes the word "bust" for a No. 2 overall selection.
In 2006, Tyrus Thomas was taken by the Chicago Bulls with the fourth overall pick. As a freshman in Baton Rouge, Thomas averaged 12 points and nine rebounds per game. He was also one of the nation's top athletes and shot-blockers, swatting away just over three per game.
Randolph was one of the nation's top athletes last year, as well as one of the SEC's top shot-blockers.
In his first two NBA seasons, Thomas possesses averages of six points, four rebounds and just one block per game.
For two top-five draft selections, those numbers aren't too great, are they?
Swift and Thomas were drafted because of their freakish athletic ability and down-the-road potential.
Randolph will be as well.
At the pre-draft camp in Orlando earlier this month, Randolph measured 6-foot-9 without shoes and a starving 197 pounds. In a nutshell, if Randolph turns sideways to you, you may lose sight of him—he's that thin (4.7 percent body fat). He even wore long sleeves at that camp to conceal his wiry arms.
He's got a subpar jump shot, as he stands almost sideways to the goal, which doesn't allow his shoulders to line up to the goal. He struggles to control himself when driving to the basket, takes untimely shots and understandably gets pushed around by bigger players (197 pounds, remember?). Basically, Randolph is nowhere near his mental potential as a basketball player.
Positively, Randolph does have a good handle on the ball for a player his size. As a left-hander, he should create difficulties for NBA defenders.
His potential is through the roof because of his 7-foot-3 wingspan, but so is his likelihood to bust as a pro.
Best case scenario, Randolph turns out to be a player comparable to Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons.
Worst case scenario, Randolph completes the trio of LSU Tiger busts taken in the lottery.