As we head toward the May 8 deadline for underclassmen who have not hired agents to return to school, I will look at 5 underclassmen who would be much better served by returning to school for another season. The list is focusing on players who would be drafted or have an outside chance of being drafted. So my apologies to Armon Bassett, Cameron Jones and C.J. Webster, but I assume you will do the right thing and go back to school.
Arnett Moultrie, the big man from UTEP, has as much potential as any player in this draft. He has a long body, giant wing-span, gets up and down the floor quickly for a big man, and plays above the rim with the best of them. However, he is still extremely raw as a basketball player and under-developed physically. If he returns to school next season, he can team with point guard Randy Culpepper in new coach Tim Floyd’s pro style offense. Floyd knows what is needed to get to the next level and he can help Moultrie acquire the skills and body necessary to be effective as a NBA big man.
Jimmer Fredette – I covered the conundrum of Fredette in an earlier post, but to summarize – concentrate this season showing more as a point guard and he may see the first round next year.
Samardo Samuels – Samuels is an interesting case – he has a body that can do some damage at the NBA level (think DeJuan Blair but not as skilled), and he had some big games in January and February that bolstered his confidence. I think it would serve him well to go back to Louisville for 2 reasons – 1) Adding to his skill set will really bolster his stock for next season (for example – a nice jump hook from the blocks would serve him well) and 2) with the Big East losing Harangody, Monroe, Koshwal, Onuaku and possibly Pope (see below), Samuels has a chance to be, along with Yancy Gates, Ator Majok and Fab Melo, one of the dominant, go-to post players in the Big East. As of now, he may squeeze into the final 5-10 spots in the draft, next year – solid late first rounder (assuming he doesn’t gain 40 pounds or kill Pitino).
Malcom Delaney – Delaney has already proven all the ways he can score, but to become a legit NBA player, he has a few things he needs to improve on – 1) His shot selection took a step backwards this season, as he forced way too many shots with a hand in his face. It’s one thing to carry your team when they need it, but that doesn’t always mean being the one to score; 2) He needs to become a little stronger physically – a lot of parts of his game remind me of Allen Iverson in college, but Delaney does not have the body to withstand punishment at the next level; and 3) prove himself as more of a point guard. I know that combo guards are all the rage right now, but there will always be more room in the NBA for a pure point guard over a scoring guard who brings the ball up the court (I’m not knocking combo guards, I just think a lot of other sites and bloggers have fallen in love with the term and want to try to squeeze every point guard who can slash and score into the category “combo guard” – Dominique Jones is not a “combo guard”, he’s an undersized shooting guard. OK, rant over.) I apologize to Delaney fans for that sidetrack, but I think he can find a place in the NBA, just not with the way his game is right now.
Herb Pope – A month ago I would have been all for Pope entering the draft, and would have lauded any team that took him in the 2nd round, but with his physical problems, including collapsing during a workout, will do nothing to help his draft stock, which had already taken a hit with the ejection from the final game of the season and the collapse of the Seton Hall program this year. If Pope was to return next season and establish himself as a leader under new coach Kevin Willard, he can do a lot to make teams focus on his physical skills again, especially his top-flight rebounding ability.
While there are others who should, and certainly will, go back to school, these 5 I think will gain the most from returning to school.
As we get closer to the draft, we will start to focus on individual players in more detail and soon start focusing on the NBA teams needs for next season.
As always, I would love to hear feedback and check out the players in more detail and a Mock Draft at DraftSite.com