Friday, April 10, 2009

Should College Kids Still Be Allowed to "Test the Waters"?

First off ... to answer my question ... yes, college kids should be able to test the waters of the NBA Draft. It allows these kids to actually see what their value is at this time and the kinds of things they need to work on.

For this post, I'm going to look at the three UNC Tar Heels that tested the waters last year: Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green.

All three learned what their games needed to expand on. All three took those lessons to heart and built on their games. Lawson became more assertive offensively and defensively this season. Ellington became more that just a shooter. His slashing and defense really rounded out his game. Green improved his three-point shot. Even Tyler Hansbrough, who didn't test the waters, knew that the NBA scouts weren't sold on his total skill set and showed us he has a decent mid-range jumper.

Working with the NBA coaches, scouts and players helps put a realistic spin on what your value is. Some guys, it knocks them down a few pegs. With the current rule, you can just go back to school ... provided that you didn't hire an agent. I have observed that most of these kids come back much better for the experience.

That's why I'd advice most college juniors to test the waters. Everyone gets one shot at it and you may as well use it. That's what Green did last year even though he pretty much knew he wasn't going to crack the first round.

My only problem is the length of time a guy has to make this decision. A player can put his name into the draft right now and doesn't have to pull back until a week before the draft (the second to last week in June). That is over two months of having things up in the air for the player, his school and the NBA scouts "wasting their time" bringing you in for a look-see.

Lawson, Ellington and Green took until the deadline day before committing back to school. For those two months, the Tar Heels didn't know what kind of team they would have coming back, if there were any scholarships to use or what kind of players they needed to find. If that happened this year, would Roy Williams try to lure John Wall to replace Lawson at the point? What happens then if Lawson returns? Then the school wasted their time with Wall and Wall wasted his time with them.

It also undermines these kids. No one believed that Danny Green was seriously thinking he'd be a first round pick. But how can Green approach this? He has to say that he's committed to being in the NBA right now or the scouts won't bother dealing with him. Would you? Would any employer bother with someone who really didn't know if they wanted the job? Even if you know you don't, you better say you do.

I'm all for these kids getting as much information as possible in order to make one of the biggest decisions in their lives. These kids are giving up the comforts of college in favor of the cold, hard reality of basketball being a job. I know that sounds great, but not all these kids will be making a ton of money and being stars. Many will be journeymen between teams, leagues and countries.

Cut the "testing" time down to a month. Give these guys until mid-May to make their decision to stay or bolt.

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