Pac-10 will be shaped by early departures.

Before we can analyze the Pac-10 next season, we have to take a look at the players who may or may not be leaving early for the NBA. As successful as the league has been this year, it is apparent that players could be testing the pro waters.


Marcus Williams seems to be the player who is most at risk. Williams probably would have been a first rounder a year ago, and more than likely he'll go first round this year. Most feel he is not totally ready to make the leap, but teams like his height, length and shooting touch. Williams returned for his sophomore season, but many feel that it did not help his draft stock. That being said, don't expect Williams in a Wildcat uniform next season.

Chase Budinger would be a likely Lottery pick if he comes out, but not a top-five guy. Lute Olson expects him back and Budinger has all but said that he will be back. Expect to see the Pac-10's freshman of the year to be back.


DeVon Hardin has not done much in his college career. He failed to average over double figures his first two seasons and was injured for all but 12 games this year. That being said, many NBA GM's are intrigued by his size and athleticism. If he wants to be a borderline second rounder or pursue a free agent deal, then he will go. Otherwise the Bears will get a senior season out of the big man.

Oregon: Everyone assumed Malik Hairston was NBA bound from the moment he arrived In Eugene. He's got a pro body and a pro game, but has not shown enough to prove he can be a successful pro. Injuries have hampered the Detroit native's season, but he's getting a nice audition in the NCAA Tournament. He's a borderline second rounder at this point but does have the option of testing the pro waters to see where he really stands.

Bryce Taylor had the unbelievable Pac-10 Tournament and his stock has to be rising. That being said, he seems to be a year away from being able to turn pro. Expect him back in Eugene.


The Cardinal got great news when both of the Lopez twins decided to return for their sophomore seasons. Both were likely first round picks, but now they can work for the top-five. Although Lawrence Hill has started cracking some draft lists, it would be a stunner if the sophomore forward even looked at the league this year.


Arron Afflalo tested the pro waters last year, but did not get good news. This year there is still a debate about whether or not he is a first rounder. He had a great season, but he was shut down in the Final Four loss to Florida. There have been some question about his overall athleticism, but his toughness and scoring ability make him attractive. Since he has already tested the waters he cannot pull his name out.

Darren Collison has seen his stock rise the tail end of the season. His height seems to be the biggest concern about his game, but right now he looks to be a first rounder and that could sway him to at least explore his draft stock.

Some have compared Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to Ron Artest without the crazy and despite a subpar sophomore season, he could still test the waters.

There is also some talk that Josh Shipp will explore his draft stock. While I would not be shocked to see the junior test the waters, it would be a major shock if he left his name in the draft.


The Trojans have two juniors who you would assume that they'd at least explore their draft stock.

Nick Young seems to be a sure-fire first rounder, with some good workouts he could find his way into the Lottery and that would be too much for the swing man to pass up.

Gabriel Pruitt had academic issues this past fall, so that puts up a red flag about his overall commitment to college. With O.J. Mayo set to enroll at USC, Pruitt may wonder just what his role may be next season. It would be a surprise if he does not at least explore his draft options.

Considering he is already 21, Taj Gibson could be tempted to make a run at the league but he seems to be headed for another year with the Trojans.


Spencer Hawes will be a Lottery pick if he comes out, but he could be a top-5 pick with another year in Seattle. Many feel he will be back, but high first round money is a huge draw.

It would be a major surprise if Quincy Pondexter left. He could sneak into a the second round, but he has higher aspirations than that.

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