Staying Put Has Its Advantages

The minimum age requirement did its part in keeping the NBA clear of high school studs and freshman from entering the draft, but more important than that might have been the natural selection process, where college underclassmen saw their peers shoot for the stars only to fall way, way short.

Kennedy Winston was the most prominent example for Alabama players. His story is well-documented, as a player who had hopes of being a late first rounder, to the eventuality of being undrafted altogether.

"I think kids in our league this year made some great decisions," Alabama basketball Coach Mark Gottfried said earlier this week.

One of those who made a good decision was Jermareo Davidson. He declared for the draft and pulled out as a sophomore, and indications from folks close to the Bama basketball program were that he was almost certain to attempt to go pro after his junior year. He decided to stay instead.

"I think they saw how painful that could be," Gottfried said, referring to the high-profile draft flops. "I think it had to impact all of them. I think there's a message within that that you have a better chance to make a (NBA) roster if you stay in school."

Gottfried didn't advocate for every kid to stay all four years of college. LSU's Tyrus Thomas being an example of a player who was ready to go.

"I think every kid is different," Gottfried said. "There may be some discussion about Joakim Noah because he might have been considered a top five player, but I don't think there's any question that every player has got a chance to improve himself tremendously and hopefully really solidify themselves as bona fide first round draft picks, not ‘I-hope-I'm-a-first-round-draft-picks.' There's a big difference in there. So I think throughout the league guys made some good decisions.

"I think it helps our league. I think at the end of the day we will be judged on how well we do in March. That's what we did last year. If our league does well in March, we'll be where we think we are which is one of the best two or three basketball conferences in the country. And if we can't get it done in March then we are who we are."

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