Cuonzo Martin hammering away https://t.co/LvztDgDwQx— Ryan Gorcey (@RGBearTerritory) April 9, 2015
BERKELEY -- On Thursday, a septet of Kentucky Wildcats declared their intentions to enter the NBA Draft in a press conference in Lexington, Ky. What does that have to do with the $10 million renovation going on at California’s Haas Pavilion? Well, the Bears have one player facing the same decision that faced Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl Anthony Towns and Devin Booker: point guard Tyrone Wallace.
“I think Tyrone is still weighing his options, which is fine,” said Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin, who wielded a sledge hammer in the fourth-floor audio-visual control room that’s getting gutted as part of the renovations to Haas Pavilion, which was completely overhauled in 1999, when it went from being Harmon Gym to the current iteration. “The thing we talked about with him is he’ll assess how it goes: Who’s going, who’s coming – who’s going in the draft, who’s returning to school – and then he’ll make his decision from there, but it’s still in the air.”
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Last season, Wallace ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring (17.1 ppg), fifth in rebounding (7.1 rpg), fifth in assists (3.97 apg), 12th in steals (1.27 spg) and second in defensive rebounding (6.21 drpg) last season, and is currently awaiting evaluation from a panel of 18 NBA general managers and scouts as to where he would wind up going in the draft.
During the height of the season, as Cal sprinted out to a 10-1 start, Wallace was looked at as a late-first round possibility, but has since fallen out of those projections.
“I don’t know if he’s necessarily said, ‘If I’m not in the first round, I’m not going to go in the draft,’” Martin said. “We’re waiting on information for Tyrone. They normally tell guys where they project you. You get it from reliable sources, and then you can make the decision. Sometimes, it’s tough, and sometimes, guys say, ‘Oh, well, I’ll do it,’ and sometimes, they say, ‘The numbers say I need to go.’”
There may not be an announcement – one way or the other – any time soon, as the deadline to declare is April 26. Other Pac-12 stars have already declared – some curiously so. Arizona junior Brandon Ashley declared earlier this week, as did the Wildcats’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Ashley is not predicted to go in the first round, though Hollis-Jefferson has been projected anywhere from No. 23 to No. 29. UCLA freshman forward Kevon Looney also declared for the draft.
But, the future is uncertain, no matter where you go – or don’t – in the NBA Draft. The Bears’ own Jorge Gutierrez -- who completed his eligibility at Cal -- has just signed a multi-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, and he went undrafted. Allen Crabbe was the 31st overall pick in the 2013 draft after leaving early, and he’s averaging 12.2 minutes per game for the Portland Trail Blazers.
“You say ‘First Round,’ but there are guys who go in the first round, and all of the sudden, they’re in the NBDL. You see guys go in the second round, and they never end up playing again,” Martin said. Or, players end up like Gutierrez. “Exactly. You’ve got to get great representation, be a part of the right team. You never know.”
Those are the concerns with which Wallace is grappling at the moment.
“I don’t know if you necessarily want to say anything, unless he said, ‘I’m staying,’ or ‘I’m going.’ I don’t think there’s really a lot to talk about. There isn’t any sense in meeting every week to see what you’re doing,” Martin said. “I think, his case, he’s got information, he continues to do the great things he does in the classroom, to finish strong academically.”
Wallace has not left school, is not training for the NBA Draft Combine and is maintaining a solid GPA as he considers his options.
“For me, that’s very important, at the end of the day, to get a degree from this institution is very impressive, and he’s been a 3.0-plus student since he’s been here, so this is not a case of guys running from the class,” Martin said. “He’s done a great job in the classroom, and he continues to do that. This is a case of a guy who’s put himself in position to make a tough decision, and that’s always a good problem to have.”
If Wallace stays, he’s on track to graduate next spring. But, for now, as Martin said, Wallace’s destiny is still “up in the air.”