Earlier today, Seton Hall's Herb Pope announced his decision to enter the 2010 NBA Draft.
At 6'8" and 236 pounds, Pope, who played his sophomore year with the Pirates after transferring from New Mexico State, is a special talent. The agile big man led the Big East in rebounding with 10.7 boards per game, and an NBA GM told ESPN.com that Pope is "the best rebounder in the country."
On the defensive end, the forward averaged 1.8 blocks per game and can use his long arms to deny entry passes to the post.
Pope runs the floor extremely well for a player his size and flourished in Bobby Gonzalez's up-tempo offensive game plan, scoring many of his points in transition. With Jeremy Hazell leading the Pirates' attack, Pope was not Hall's first option but still averaged 11.5 points per game.
His offensive game definitely needs to improve if he wants to be successful at the next level. In the NBA, Pope will need to be able to play with his back to the basket. He currently is decent in the post, but will not be able to accomplish much against the trees of the NBA unless he improves.
With a decent mid-range stroke, Pope can extend his range to beyond the arc, where he shot an impressive nine-of-21 last season.
Pope has yet to hire an agent despite stating, "I am 110 percent committed at this time to staying in this draft." If he doesn't hire an agent, he can elect to return to Seton Hall for his junior year.
Jeff Robinson, Pope's teammate and Seton Hall's second-leading scorer, also declared for the Draft while Eugene Harvey and John Garcia are set to graduate this spring. Add a new coach to the mix, and Seton Hall will certainly struggle to be a contender next year.
However, Pope shouldn't be discouraged to stay in school an extra year because of this.
Kevin Willard lacks the experience of Bobby Gonzalez, but he is a good coach and Pope should be able to learn from him. Improving on offense will make Pope's draft stock rise.
In Pope's statement, the forward mentioned "the needs" of his family as a reason for declaring for the Draft. Impulsiveness generally leads to mistakes, and while Pope has obviously thought his decision through, he needs to consider the long run.
He might make a few grand by getting drafted, but he's not 100 percent ready for the NBA. The chances of getting cut are high. If he stays at Seton Hall and works on his game, he will be able to step onto an NBA court ready to compete and consistently send checks to his family.
Pope has a promising future and NBA career ahead of him. It doesn't make sense to risk screwing it up for immediate money.
Follow Ari Kramer on Twitter for more college basketball.
Photo from shupirates.com