On March 26, 2008, Richard Hendrix made himself eligible for the 2008 NBA Draft.
That day, I was very skeptical about Hendrix's decision. I'm not a doubter of his game but of how Alabama early entrants have faired in past drafts.
Under head coach Mark Gottfried (1998-present), only one Tide early entrant has been drafted in the first round - Gerald Wallace in 2001.
Mo Williams left after his sophomore season and was taken late in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft.
Three former Tide players—Schea Cotton, Rod Grizzard, and Kennedy Winston—all left UA for the NBA after their junior years. As did Hendrix this year.
See why the skepticism would ensue with Hendrix's decision?
Throughout the draft process, it was difficult to get a read on where Hendrix might be selected. Some mock drafts had Hendrix going as high as No. 20 overall, whereas some had him in the middle of the second round.
I figured the most legitimate option for Hendrix was going 29th to the Detroit Pistons. That didn't happen, as the Pistons took DJ White, who was later traded.
Watching the draft, I kept waiting for NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver to read Hendrix's name off that little white card he carried. Pick after pick, a younger player with more upside was taken.
But finally, during a commercial, Hendrix's name appeared on the bottom of my TV.
He was taken by the Golden State Warriors with the 49th overall selection. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was happy he got drafted but disappointed that it was that late in the draft.
I still stand by every bullet point written in that three-month-old article.
If Hendrix would have returned to the Tide, it would easily be the favorite in the SEC West, possibly the entire conference.
Hendrix's statistics probably wouldn't improve upon his junior season, but he'd definitely average a double-double...and for a contender, not a pretender like the 2007-08 squad.
The 2008 draft class was very deep relative to the power forward position. Hendrix is not a great athlete, so that definitely went into why he fell on draft boards. However, the 2009 draft class is looking less and less impressive at the same position. Assuming Alabama would make the NCAA tournament next year with Hendrix, he'd move up draft boards because of the exposure.
He'd be a sure-fire first-rounder. No doubt about that.
Gottfried was obviously upset about how the draft went for Richard.
"I'm disappointed to see a player with eligibility left go 49th," said Gottfried following Thursday's draft. "But I do believe he has to make the most of it. Richard has improved every year, and I believe he would have continued to improve. But that's behind us now. He's got to do what he can and turn it into a good situation."
Hendrix was a bit more optimistic.
"There was a little bit of waiting that went farther than I wanted," said Hendrix. "I was ready for the best and ready for the worst and I got my name called. As of right now I'm happy to be a Golden State Warrior. The name 'Warriors' is really what I think I am. I'm ready to go give them what I have to offer."
I believe Hendrix has a lot to offer the NBA, especially the Warriors, a team that struggles rebounding the ball.
I know Richard has the work ethic and determination to make the Warriors' roster.
However, I also knew all along that he'd be a first-rounder next year with a guaranteed three-year contract, playing on a title-contending team.