Livingston to draft AND Duke?

Mike DeCourcy has an interesting article where he brings up the possibility that Shaun Livingston could be drafted and still go on to play at Duke. For that matter, JR Smith could do the same thing at Carolina. Very interesting.

A Real Father Flanagan

He ain’t heavy, he’s my felon.
Today, JamesOn Curry will accept a scholarship to play basketball for Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State. It should come as no surprise that Curry ended up with Sutton. Now that Tark is out of the picture, Sutton and Bob Huggins at Cincinnati have taken on the roles of the hosts of unwanted players. Their rosters are constantly full of transfers, Prop 48 casualties and Juco transfers. Some will say that this willingness to reach out to players with checkered pasts is a sign of a warm and trusting heart, one that believes that everyone deserves a second chance. I’m not one of the people who says that.
With Sutton, there may be some truth to the idea that he has a soft spot for troubled characters, as he himself is a bit of redeemed coach. He is a recovering alcoholic and he resurrected his career after being run off from Kentucky. At the same time though, I’m not so sure that a leopard can really change his spots, and Sutton was involved in all sorts of shady behavior at UK. If you feel the need to cheat to succeed at Kentucky, why would you not come to that same conclusion at a school with fewer resources?
Bringing in players with shady backgrounds isn’t the same thing as cheating, but it’s in the same neighborhood. Programs that are willing to pay a full scholarship to bring in a guy with a criminal background to live among the tuition-paying students probably are willing to do anything to win.
Juco and Prop 48 players aren’t the same as felons, but they bring their own risks. In most cases, guys go to junior colleges because they can’t meet NCAA eligibility requirements, so I’m going to lump them in with the Prop 48 guys. Basically, all you need is an 820 on the SAT to be eligible to play in the NCAA. An 820! That’s not much of a score, and you can actually score lower and still be eligible if your grades are high. There are only three reasons why a high school senior couldn’t achieve minimum standards – he’s just not smart enough to go to college; he’s smart enough, but too lazy to put forth any effort; or he’s smart enough but hasn’t had good enough educational opportunities. Guys in the first category have no business in college. Guys in the second category are worse, because clearly they are some pretty poor decision makers. Only guys in the third category really are worth giving another chance in a four-year university.
At schools like Cincinnati and OK State, they have so many Jucos that I really have a hard time believing that all of their players fit into the last category. Most likely, they are getting a lot of the guys who are too lazy or dumb. Add those to a few malcontent transfers (no, not all transfers are bad guys) and felons (like Curry) and you have a pretty dangerous mix. Things may go fine for a while, but eventually you’ll get some samurai incidents.

None and Done

On Monday, Duke recruit Shaun Livingston and North Carolina recruit J.R. Smith both announced that they are going to skip college and enter the NBA draft. Both say that they don’t plan to hire agents, leaving the possibility that they will instead decide to play in college. I think that’s extremely unlikely to happen. Livingston’s grandfather and father both still say that he should and will go to Duke, but he’s projected as a top five pick. It’s hard to believe that he’s going to hear anything to change his mind at this point. Smith is projected to go no higher than the mid teens, but he sounds determined to play in the NBA. He hasn’t said anything for weeks that made it sound like he wanted to play in college. Frighteningly, one of the motivations he listed was other players in postseason all star games telling him he should jump. What a great source of career advice!
So what will this mean for Duke and UNC next year? For Duke, it’s another tough blow. They already lost Luol Deng, who would have been their best player and with Livingston, they lost their point guard. So now Duke really only has eight scholarship players, including no natural point guards. On the flip side, six of those eight were McDonald’s All Americans and two, Sheldon Williams and J.J. Redick, are college All American level players. Don’t shed any tears for Duke.
At UNC, the loss really doesn’t hurt that much. Yeah, JR Smith looks like a helluva player, but that team is already stacked and there are only so many minutes to go around. Rashad McCants plays the same position and he’ll be a strong candidate for national Player Of The Year next year. With McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Marvin Williams, UNC still has four players who are likely first round draft picks when they decide to leave college.
So, now that all the ACC players are settled, I can go ahead and do my early analysis of next year’s ACC. Keep your eye out.