Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
The sting of the loss to Florida in the Sweet 16 hasn't faded, especially since we were in it down the stretch when we unfortunately faded, in part due to an odd coaching decision to keep Kyle on the bench past the eight minute TV timeout. And here I thought issue with rotations was temporarily on hiatus after the Arizona win.
Nevertheless, the next college hoops cycle starts right after the NC game with the NCAA-legislated evaluation and NLI periods from mid-April to mid-May. UCLA won't be hearing its name called this time. The biggest remaining name on the board, center Myles Turner from Texas, dropped us from consideration before last season started.
There has been, however, plenty of Bruin-related basketball news. Most important - because it will be the major event impacting next year's team - is Jordan Adams' interest in this year's NBA draft.
So what will he do?
This Forbes article explains NBA rookie contracts. In a nut shell, compensation is tied explicitly to the draft order. A rookie contract is for three years with options for two more. The big money follows--if you are around that long. In addition, we know that the odds of sticking around the NBA for more than two years are extremely long if you are not a first rounder.
It would appear, then, that the rational decision would be to maximize your professional earnings over, say, ten years. That said, we are dealing with human beings, and there are other factors besides dollars and cents, and decisions aren't always rationale. In college basketball, unlike college football (where there are more players, a less stringent collective bargaining agreement, a greater need for physical maturity and a lesser need for a variety of skills at all positions) the surprises usually aren't who stays but who goes.
The case for Jordan to leave is: family issues and whether 25 or 62, there is a pay day coming that would make most of us jealous. The danger would be slipping out of the draft, in which case, he would likely head to Europe. Jordan's game was exposed this year. He's the polar opposite of Zach LaVine: low in athleticism but makes up for with heart and craftiness. If the NBA doesn't want him now, why should it get better next year?
The case for Jordan to return to UCLA is obvious: improve his draft status in what appears to be a weaker 2015 draft. Can he do that? His athleticism, or lack thereof, is well known now. I know images of him getting caught from behind on the fast break so many times, once the powder puff portion of the schedule was over, still seer my brain.
Jordan didn't have the break out year many of us expected. Recall that he didn't scrimmage until October due to the broken bone in his foot, without Shabazz Muhammad, the other teams best perimeter player covered Jordan and the transition offense didn't initially suit his earth-bound game.
With the injury in the rear view window, and Kyle Anderson leaving, Jordan has the opportunity to lead the Bruins next year (though Norman Powell would have something to say about that). There is precedence for a high draft slot for a marquis player from a tournament team that everyone knows is not an NBA-level athlete - see Jimmer Fredette, drafted #10 in 2011. I see Jordan as fringe first rounder next year with a possible career as a catch and shoot 2 in the NBA.
My guess? He returns. He's been consistent, almost effusive, in his support for the coach and UCLA, and the money difference is too big between the second and first round.
And now on to the other news.
1) Zach Lavine and Kyle Anderson declare for the NBA draft less than 24 hours after the loss to Florida. No surprise here except for the airing of the dirty laundry. I suspect there's more to come. Don't expect Zach to be in the next edition of the Optimist commercial.
2) Our 2014-15 recruits, Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh played in the McDonald's All American game. Here's the game thread including box score. Kevon Looney had 11 rebounds, 6 points and 2 blocks in 11 minutes. Thomas Welsh, not so much. This just wasn't his type of game. The book on how to play him is out there-beat him down the floor because he can't run. That said, he went from nowhere to the McDonald's game in about 12 months, appears to be a great kid who will be around for four years and seems to be on a pretty fast arc.
3) Daniel Hamilton, brother of our own Isaac, tweeted that he's solid to Connecticut. I guess you can't say no to Kevin Ollie and the National Champs. This despite the departure of Zach LaVine. Now if Jordan leaves, the guessing game will be on again. I have to tell you, I liked him despite what some pundits say. First, his brother seems like a fine young man. Second, I've seen him play several times (on ESPNU), and I do like his game as a 6'6" and very long 3 who can play defense, rebound and shoot. I get where the pundits are coming from. They mainly see him in an AAU environment (AAU tournaments during the summer bring the tops players together in one place and the head coaches have time to attend). You know how those games go, and further, he has the ball in his hands a lot at St. John Bosco Bellflower-this despite having a star-studded lineup including Arizona commit combo guard Tyler Dorsey who we chased after hard. That said, in a tough game against Kelly Oubre (going to Kansas), he played a traditional forward role, and minimized Oubre, pulling out a one point win for Bosco.
4) Polls. USA Today has us at #15 in their final poll. In the way-to-early 2014-15 poll, ESPN has us as #22, while USA Today has us at #14. Besides ESPN's traditional lack of respect, the reason for the disparity is that ESPN thinks Jordan Adams is going.
5) The transfer market. This "secondary" market for college talent has exploded in recent years. The rumors of UCLA interest in point guards is out there. Devonte Graham is the hottest commodity. Although currently playing at Brewster Academy with our own recruit, Jonah Bolden, I don't expect much due to the continuing controversy surrounding the coach's son, Bryce.
So where does this all leave us? Pretty much the same place as the last two years: second to Arizona, waiting for the crack there, and possibly competing for first. Arizona has another monster class coming in that includes Stanley Johnson (shooting forward), Craig Victor (power forward) and Parker Jackson-Cartwright (point guard). The big question is, however, who returns for them? McConnell returns, and Ashley indicated he's coming back. No announcements yet from Gordon, Johnson, Hollis-Jefferson, Tarczewski and even York (rumored to transfer). That's potentially a lot of pieces.
Meanwhile, if Jordan returns, you can bet that the starting lineup will be Adams, Powell, Parker, Looney and Hamilton/Alford. I'd love to say that Isaac Hamilton can carry the point guard load, but we won't know until November 8. If Bryce starts, then load up on the Peptobismol.