- In one of the least surprising early entry decisions ever Shabazz Muhammad announced that he would be leaving UCLA after one season during which he became two years older. Muhammad’s recruitment and arrival at UCLA was one of the more controversial ones and portended a career that was more hype than production. After Muhammad was reinstated (in part due to comments made by the boyfriend of a NCAA investigator on a cross-country flight) he showed flashes of ability that reminded people why he was considered the best player in his class for much of his senior year of high school, but those moments were separated by stretches of mediocrity and more ridiculous scandals including the ridiculous Gucci backpack controversy and the recent admission that he was actually a year older than he had previously stated. In the end, Muhammad did not live up to the ridiculous hype given to a recruit of his caliber, but he will probably end up being a lottery pick so we cannot really fault him for heading to the NBA, which he was been destined to do this summer even before he headed to Westwood.
- If Muhammad needed any extra motivation to head to the NBA the performance of James Michael McAdoo this past season should help Muhammad feel more secure in his decision to strike while the iron is hot. Now we will start of by admitting that Muhammad was a much more highly touted prospect and produced more as a freshman than McAdoo has done in either of his first two seasons at North Carolina, but McAdoo was considered to be a potential All-American this season. In the end his play was so uninspired that he has decided to return to Chapel Hill for his junior season. Writers and fans can make all of the comments about improving his game that they want, but the fact is that McAdoo probably played himself out of the late lottery this season. With a solid year next season McAdoo could get back into the lottery and make himself more money, but he will have to compete with what is expected to be a much deeper draft class in 2014.
- Unfortunately for Roy Williams, McAdoo will not be joined in the locker room by Reggie Bullock, who was named the team’s MVP yesterday and then promptly announced that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft. Bullock showed quite a bit of improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons (or he just started playing on a weaker team that focused more of the offense on him) as his points per game jumped from 8.8 to 13.9 and his shooting (field goal, three-point, and free throw) all improved. At this point Bullock is a borderline late first round pick so it is not unreasonable for him to leave school especially with how loaded next year’s Draft could be, but he needs to shoot well in his workouts if he doesn’t want to have his name called by Adam Silver.
- We have no idea who is in Vander Blue‘s ear, but they are costing him a year of free education and are probably sending him straight to Europe or the NBDL as he announced yesterday that he would be entering the NBA Draft. Blue put together a solid junior season, but even the most optimistic projection we have seen for Blue has him projected as a late second round pick. For all of Blue’s ability he cannot reliably hit a college three-pointer (30.3% last season) and he is undersized for a shooting guard, which is a bad combination. While we won’t have to watch Blue deal with the consequences of his decision (don’t watch much NBDL or Euroleague action), we will probably see Marquette suffer as a result of the loss of senior leadership in the backcourt next season.
- We already know plenty about the four players we have already mentioned, but there is one intriguing NBA Draft prospect who was highly regarded coming out of high school about whom we know very little–Norvel Pelle. After failing to meet the NCAA’s academic qualifying standards, Pelle, who was once the #1 center in the class of 2011, has been floating in a no-man’s land and now must prove himself to NBA teams in a series of workouts over the next few months. Pelle certainly has the tools and at 6’1o or 6’11” he is very close to the magic 7′ mark–time to let the hair grow a little–that gets you drafted as long as you can walk and chew gum a the same time (and sometimes even if you can’t) so we don’t doubt that he will get looks from NBA teams, but he needs to prove himself in workouts if he wants to get drafted.
Bonus: Late last night news broke that Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart would be returning for his sophomore season. Honestly, we have no idea why he would do this as he is a top-five pick on every mock draft we have seen. With how loaded next year’s incoming freshman class is there is no guarantee that he will improve his draft position. He clearly has some things that he can work on with his game (29% from 3 and 1.25 assist-to-turnover ratio), but we have no idea why he would have to work on that in Stillwater. Having said that the Big 12 suddenly got a lot more interesting next season.