Shakur testing the draft?

If Lute Olson is saying it, you can bet there is a good chance that it is true. Barring a surprise move, it sounds as if Mustafa Shakur will at least test the NBA Draft.

Both Olson and Jim Rosborough told the Arizona Daily Star that they believe Shakur will put his name in the draft but not hire an agent. That is consistent with rumors that have been rampant since the Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

Just last week one Arizona coach said he "hoped" Shakur was returning but that he did not know what he would decide.

Behind the scenes Shakur has made it known that he would like to go pro at the earliest possible opportunity, going so far as to say before the season started that he was definitely leaving at the end of the year. Shakur backed off those claims as he struggled during the season but after a strong final month he has been eyeing the NBA again.

It only makes sense that Shakur test the waters. He has nothing to lose other than travel expenses. Teams have long been intrigued with his size and athleticism and if he can get an adequate gauge of his pro stock, then why not explore his options?

Most around the program feel that Shakur will return, but if he gets word that he will be selected in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, expect him to take the guaranteed money.

If he does indeed follow through with his plans, Shakur will be the third UA player to take advantage of the rule. Jason Gardner went to the Chicago pre-draft camp after his sophomore season and Chris Rodgers tested the waters last season. Former Wildcat signee Ndudi Ebi also worked out for NBA teams without an agent, but remained in the draft and was a first round draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It does not appear likely that Shakur will be able to get the first round guarantee that he is looking for. has him rated as the 100th best player in the draft and the 19th best point guard by their draft analyst Chad Ford. He would have to play very well in the various workouts to climb into a position where he feels comfortable staying in the draft.

It becomes even more difficult without an agent. An agent can work behind the scenes to get a first round guarantee from a team and even then it is tough.

If Shakur does not stay in the draft, it could be a huge benefit for Wildcat fans. Like Gardner before him, Shakur can get a realistic view of his strengths and weaknesses from someone other than the Wildcat coaches. Gardner used his poor performance in Chicago as motivation and a guide on what he had to work on. Although he was not eventually drafted, his next two seasons were stellar.

Marcus Williams is also eyeing the draft. Publicly he has said that he is still discussing things with his family and confidants. However, he has told at least two Arizona student-athletes that he plans on coming back. The bad news for Wildcat fans is the his stock seems to be going up and a team taking a chance on him in the late first round is not out of the question.

Link to Daily Star story.

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