With the deadline passing last night for NCAA underclassmen to withdraw from the draft and return to school, we have seen a flurry of activity in the last 48 hours. Let’s take a look at the more prominent decisions and see what that means for the players involved.
JuJuan Johnson (Purdue, Junior, Power Forward) and E’Twuan Moore (Purdue, Junior, Point Guard) - The obvious upshot to this for both players is that they will be part of a pre-season Top 3 team which will be heavily featured throughout the season. The negative – the team will be heavily featured throughout the year. Moore’s choice was not that difficult – he was not going to be drafted, so there is no harm in coming back. Johnson’s decision is a little more complex. I projected Johnson as a late first round pick so he has a lot more to lose if he and/or the team have a down season, it can affect his value. If Purdue makes a Final 4 run, we may see Johnson in the late lottery next season and Moore may play his way with Robbie Hummel into 2nd round picks.
Arnett Moultrie (UTEP, Sophomore, Power Forward)- Obviously there is a lot more to the Moultrie story then we currently know. Not only did he withdraw from the NBA Draft, but he announced that he is transferring from UTEP after Tim Floyd took over for Tony Barbee. Moultrie will need to be very careful about where he decides to transfer. He needs a program very similar to UTEP teams the last 2 seasons – an uptempo, free-flowing style. Moultrie is a very intriguing prospect as he has off-the-charts athleticism in a near 7 foot body and the ability to draw defenders out to the perimeter. Since he will be sitting out next season, he needs to insure that whatever program he picks spends time developing his body. He could easily be a lottery pick 2 years from now, so keep an eye on him.
Jimmer Fredette (BYU, Junior, Point Guard)- Admittedly, I do not think as highly of Fredette as a lot of other scouts and draft pundits do, so I certainly applaud his decision to go back to school. The important thing for Fredette to do now is show this season that he is capable of running a team. We know he can score, I want to see him turn his teammates into scorers. If he can do that, he can be a mid-first round pick next season. If not, some team may want him in the 2nd round as a bench scorer and 3rd point guard.
Rico Pickett (Manhattan, Junior, Point Guard) - Hopefully Pickett was able to receive some good feedback these past 2 weeks on what he needs to do next season to increase his chances to play in the NBA. A point guard with good size and above-average athleticism, Pickett needs to improve on his decision-making, both as a passer and a shooter. Depending on Manhattan’s schedule next season, Pickett will need to make sure he takes advantage of games against high-level competition. Even doing that, I project him as a late 2nd rounder best case.
Dee Bost (Mississippi St., Sophomore, Point Guard) and Ravern Johnson (Mississippi St., Sophomore, Shooting Guard) - The most curious decision at the deadline, Bost has decided to stay in the draft, or at least has decided not to go back to Mississippi St. Bost does have NBA potential, though he needs to get stronger and improve his ability to control a game. Bost will most likely end up in Europe next season and may pick up the skills necessary to come back to US and compete at the highest level, though I have a feeling that his game is actually a much better fit for the European leagues. The return of Bost along with Johnson and the debut of Renardo Sidney could have made Mississippi St. one of the favorites in the SEC. Johnson made a smart decision, and is potentially a 2nd rounder next season, or a late first rounder in 2 years.
Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Junior, Guard)- Not a lot to say about this decision – Hobson has the ability to be a role player at multiple positions right away and the skills to eventually be a NBA starter. I project him currently as a later-first round pick.
Jordan Crawford (Xavier, Sophomore, Guard) – Another easy decision, Crawford is not going to fall out of the first round and may go as high as the 18-25 range.
Tomorrow we will start to look at the individual NBA teams and what their needs are in the upcoming draft.
As always, I look forward to any comments or questions.