NBA Draft: Winners and Losers
This is a lonely time for basketball fans. The NBA Finals have ended, the LeBron/Kobe puppet commercials are dwindling, and the rush of Draft hype is only about to begin. Thankfully, we had a little excitement with the “withdrawl deadline”, or there would have been no conceivable reason for getting out of bed in the morning.
But while the deadline brought hope for some teams (Maryland, Notre Dame), it also set an ominous tone for others (Wake Forest, USC). With the deadline now in the rearview mirror, here’s a look at the winners and losers.
Notre Dame. Getting Luke Harangody back means the Irish will once again enter the season with high expectations. The return of a motivated Harangody, along with now-eligible transfers Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin, should ensure the Irish an NCAA bid one season after they stumbled badly. Harangody has a chance to leave Notre Dame with a handful of school records, so it’s a smart decision for him.
Georgia Tech. Gani Lawal returning for another year should provide a great boost for the Jackets, as he’ll join uber-recruit Derrick Favors in what is suddenly one of the conference’s best frontcourts. With the return of guard Iman Shumpert and some highly-touted recruits, the Jackets should challenge for an NCAA berth, helping Lawal’s stock in the process.
Maryland. Greivis Vasquez won’t win any popularity contests with ACC opponents, but his return drastically changes things for the Terps. Vasquez does it all for Maryland, from scoring to passing to rebounding, and he does it all with a swagger that lifts the play of his teammates. Despite his over-the-top bravado, Vasquez is a terrific team leader who Gary Williams knows he can trust on the floor, and his return means Maryland should again be dancing in March.
Texas. With versatile forward Damion James headed back to Austin, the Longhorns suddenly look like March contenders. James’ return means the Horns lose only sharp-shooter AJ Abrams off last year’s 23-win squad, and he ensures another year of nightmare match-ups for opposing Big 12 coaches. With a terrific freshmen class on the way led by stud guard Avery Bradley, the Horns have all of the pieces in place for a terrific season.
Villanova. Nobody thought Scottie Reynolds was going to stay in the draft, and his return gives the Wildcats a veteran playmaker who has been through it all. ‘Nova has a terrific class coming in, but Reynolds’ return means they won’t have too much put on their shoulders too soon. If a young frontcourt develops, the Wildcats will be the favorites in the Big East, and could make another Final Four run.
Georgetown. The Hoyas lose multi-talented forward DaJuan Summers, but will return an even more important piece in forward/center Greg Monroe, who wanted another year to develop his game. Monroe has terrific ball skills for a big man, and he certainly would have been a top-5 pick had he declared. Instead, he’ll be the anchor of a Hoya team anxious to erase the memories of last season’s disappointment,. With Guards Austin Freeman and Chris Wright complementing Monroe in the post, the Hoyas should return to the tournament next year.
Others: Mississippi State (Jarvis Varnado), Kentucky (Patrick Patterson), Michigan (Manny Harris), Ohio State (Evan Turner), Tennessee (Tyler Smith)