APRIL 26TH: According to Aran Smith of NBADraft.net (Twitter link), "word on the street" suggests that Smart is second-guessing his decision to forgo the draft. While Smith says not to be shocked if Smart changes his mind, for now the junior guard remains on track to return to Oklahoma State. He'll have until Sunday night to finalize his decision.
APRIL 16TH: We just heard that the Oklahoma State basketball program scheduled a press conference for tomorrow afternoon and now we know why. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Cowboys guard Marcus Smart will return to Stillwater for his sophomore season (Twitter link). This is a big surprise because, as Wojnarowski points out, Smart was on his way to being a top five selection in June. This makes an already weak top of the draft even weaker.
Chad Ford of ESPN thinks that Smart would have gone top three, tweeting that he is the first player since Blake Griffin to return to school with that high a draft projection. Ford calls Smart a "different" kid who values winning and college experience. With Smart out of the mix, Ford will elevate Trey Burke to the top point guard spot on his board (Twitterlinks).
In light of Marcus Smart's decision to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, the debate over whether he made the right decision is already underway. Smart was all but a lock to be drafted top five come June with an outside chance at going No. 1 overall (per ESPN's Chad Ford on Twitter). This year's NBA Draft is considered weak, especially at the top, and the prevailing thought on next year's draft, albeit 14 months away, is that it will be considerably stronger. The downside of Smart's decision is clear; he could be costing himself millions of dollars. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who broke the Smart news, adds via Twitter that the overwhelming response of NBA executives on Smart's decision thus far is "shock."
But as Ford tweets, Smart is the type of "different" kid that values winning and college experience. Maybe Smart is returning to Stillwater because he values the development of his game over the paycheck that will come with his draft slot. Top five picks, by definition, typically go to the worst teams in the NBA. Sometimes those are not the best destinations for players who are not ready for the bright lights of the professional ranks. Who knows? Maybe Smart's decision will result in a bigger payday or more prosperous career down the road than he ever would have had stuck on a perpetual loser.
It is a subjective debate for sure... which is why it is important to ask the question. Did Marcus Smart make the right decision? Please feel free to elaborate on your answer in the comments section.
Let's keep track of all things NBA Draft from Tuesday night right here:
James McAdoohas decided to return to North Carolina for his junior season, reports Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports. Despite being a highly touted recruit who averaged of 14.4 points per contest this year, McAdoo was clearly not happy with his draft projection. Citing NBA executives, Goodman says that reports on the rangy Tar Heel label him as a man without a position in the NBA, not yet comfortable in the post and not a good enough shooter to play on the perimeter.
Before the announcement, McAdoo ranked 20th on the Draft Express Top 100 and projected as the 19th pick in the site's most recent mock draft. Three picks later, Draft Express pegs Jamaal Franklin as the Nets pick at 22. Franklin has the experience and polish to be an instant contributor for a contender that picks in the 20s, if he lasts that long. Franklin is the Draft Express NBA Draft Prospect of the Week, and Walker Beeken profiles him here.
Oklahoma State basketball has scheduled a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, tweets ESPN's Chad Ford, who suggests that the school may announce the plans of top-five hopeful Marcus Smart. Smart is ranked as the third best prospect in the draft by Draft Express. The last we heard from him, there were conflicting reports of his intentions regarding the draft.
As we look forward to what should be a fun Final Four in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, let's check in on the latest updates on the 2013 NBA draft....
Memphis forward Adonis Thomas will forgo his last two years of NCAA eligibility and enter the draft, coach Josh Pastner confirmed to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). Thomas, who will hire an agent, is ranked just outside of Chad Ford's top 100 list at ESPN.com, and Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) questions his decision to leave Memphis.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford isn't ruling out the possibility that the No. 2 prospect on his board, Marcus Smart, returns to Oklahoma State, but Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com says Smart is leaning toward declaring for the draft. Within the same tweet, Goodman adds that Smart's teammate, LeBryan Nash, will remain in school.
Croatian prospect Dario Saric will enter the draft, reports Ford. The 18-year-old is being eyed as a "potential sleeper" by a number of teams, according to the ESPN.com scribe.
Michigan's Trey Burke is up to 7th on ESPN.com's big board, and could continue to rise with a strong performance against Syracuse this Saturday, according to Ford.
Gary Harris of Michigan State is believed to be leaning toward returning to school and undergoing shoulder surgery this summer, says Ford.
Multiple sources tell Ford that Kelly Olynyk is expected to declare for the '13 draft, though the Gonzaga big man hasn't made it official yet.
College coaches and players are aware that the NCAA's April 16th withdrawal deadline is relatively meaningless, writes ESPN.com's Andy Katz. Last month, we passed along Jonathan Givony's explanation for why that's the case.
Isaiah Sykes of Central Florida will declare for the draft, but won't hire an agent, giving him an opportunity to withdraw, tweets Goodman.
A pair of underclassmen declared their intentions to enter the NBA draft today, with N.C. State's C.J. Leslie and Kentucky's Archie Goodwin entering the mix. Here's more of what we're hearing with the draft now less than three months away:
The tournament bracket makes it clear which NCAA teams are winners, but Ben Standig of CSNWashington sorts through the March Madness winners and losers as it pertains to the draft.
Standig cites Kentucky center Nerlens Noel as a winner, and Sean Deveney of The Sporting News agrees, even though Noel has been out since February with a torn ACL (Twitter link). Other contenders to be the No. 1 overall pick, like Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter and Marcus Smart all faltered, Deveney observes.
A Western Conference GM tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv that six or seven members of the 2014 draft class would be in the mix for the No. 1 pick if they were eligible this year (Twitter link).
A GM who spoke to Dave Telep of ESPN.com echoed that sentiment, citing five potential All-Stars who could be in next year's draft: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison (Twitter link).
In 2003, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim directed a squad led by NBA-hopefuls Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara, and freshman Carmelo Anthony through the NCAA tournament and ultimately to a national championship after besting Roy Williams and the Kansas Jayhawks in the final game. Boeheim increased his chances of celebrating the ten-year anniversary of that title win with another one this year, as his Orangemen - headed by first-round prospect Michael Carter-Williams - advanced to the Final Four after defeating Marquette tonight. That aside, here are a few rumblings surrounding some potential draft prospects this year:
ESPN NBA insider Chad Ford tweets that Carter-Williams is peaking at the right time and could be one of three point guards selected in the top 10 in June.
Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld discusses how Michigan's Trey Burke has helped his draft stock with a strong tournament thus far, but the same can't be said for Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart or Indiana's Cody Zeller. While Smart and Zeller have been ranked ahead of Burke for the most part, Brigham thinks that the Wolverine point guard could have a chance at leapfrogging both on the draft board this summer.
As we look forward to seeing which high seed will fall next on day two of March Madness, let's round up a few items of interest related to this June's draft:
In a lengthy piece on Shabazz Muhammad, Ken Bensinger of the Los Angeles Times reveals that the UCLA prospect is actually a year older than previously believed -- Muhammad is 20 years old, rather than 19.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton both believe that the revelation about Muhammad's age could have a significant impact on his draft stock (Twitterlinks). As Ford notes in a second tweet, Muhammad still figures to go off the board early, but having lied about his age won't help with his character evaluation either.
According to Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (Sulia link), there may be more candidates for the first overall pick this year than in any draft since 1995. However, Bucher adds that the decision for whichever team lands the No. 1 pick will likely come down to Marcus Smart vs. Ben McLemore.
Here are a few more odds and ends to round up the latest on the Association tonight:
Scott Bordow of AZ Central writes that the interim tag on Lindsey Hunter as the Suns head coach will remain for the rest of the season. GM Lon Babby says that the team will wait until the summer to determine Hunter's future.
Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State suffered a sprain in his right wrist during the team's exit from the NCAA tournament today, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo. Though Smart struggled during the game, one scout maintained that the 6'4" guard is a top 5 prospect and would be "crazy" to not declare for the draft this year (Twitter link). ESPN's Chad Ford tweeted that Smart is still not a lock to leave and is contemplating a return to school next year.
In an ESPN Insider article, Ford says that University of Miami guard Shane Larkin will not make a decision about his future until after the team's season is officially over.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston talks about how rookie center Fab Melo has "come back to earth" a bit after posting up monster numbers in the D-League earlier this year. Though still raw, there is hope that the Celtics' center can use his time in the NBDL to improve his footwork and rebounding.
There are lingering questions about Richard Hamilton being able to return to action for the Bulls this season, notes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. With regard to the veteran shooting guard's back problems, coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters: "It’s not clearing up right now, so we have to wait.’’
A week from now, we'll be gearing up for this year's NCAA Tournament to get underway in earnest. In the meantime, here's the latest on a number of the prospects whose teams will be participating in March Madness:
Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Chris Mannix of SI.com have both published the fifth editions of their respective big boards for the 2013 draft. Both scribes have Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, and Marcus Smart ranked first, second, and third respectively.
Within Ford's big board, he reports that Gary Harris, Ford's No. 10 prospect, is "strongly contemplating" returning to Michigan State for his sophomore year. Pittsburgh's Steven Adams, ranked No. 23, is also a good bet to return to school next year, according to Ford.
Ford's weekly chat at ESPN.com included plenty of interesting draft-related tidbits. Among the highlights: A number of GMs believe Texas' Myck Kabongo could be a great value in the 20s or 30s, and Ford believes that James Michael McAdoo of UNC is one player whose stock would benefit significantly from a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament.
We may still have nearly a third of the NBA regular season left to play, but it won't be long before talk of this summer's draft starts to increase exponentially. With just three weeks until March Madness and the June draft less than four months away, the busy season is around the corner for ESPN.com's Chad Ford, who has a number of draft-related items up for us today. Let's round them up....
Ford's mock draft tool, which provides mock results for 2,184 different lottery scenarios, is up and running for the 2013 draft.
There doesn't seem to be a consensus No. 1 pick this year yet, as one veteran general manager tells Ford (ESPN Insider link): "As you look at the guys atop your Big Board, I'm
struck with how depleted the talent pool is this year at the top. This
is a pretty good draft if you want to talk depth. I just don't see a
player who turns our franchise around at the top. I could be wrong. I
didn't see Kyrie Irving doing what he's doing for the Cavs right now. But this year is especially troubling."
Based on his conversations with GMs, Ford says six players appear to be in contention for the first overall pick: Ben McLemore of Kansas, Kentucky's Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Anthony Bennett of UNLV, Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Alex Len of Maryland. Cody Zeller of Indiana and UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad have fallen out of contention for now, according to Ford.
McLemore is currently atop the Suns' big board, according to Ford.
In a separate Insider-only piece, Ford and ESPN.com's Jay Bilas discuss which players top their respective big boards, with Ford choosing Smart and Bilas going with McLemore.