No New Trend After All

The Gator quartet of junior basketball stars -- known hereabouts as the "04's" -- were the feel good story of college basketball for the past six months. The four standouts from the 2006 NCAA Champions turned down the pros in order to spend another year enjoying their friendship, enjoying life as college students and trying to repeat as champs.

It worked out pretty darn well. The Gators won it all again, three of the four appear certain to be top ten picks in the June draft and the fourth, Taurean Green will be chosen by someone. National pundits praised the 04's as everything that is right about college athletics and mused that their example might set a trend around the country. They opined that others would feel more comfortable turning down the lure of the big money in order to enjoy their youth and develop their games.

Well that ain't happening.

With less than a week until the deadline (April 29) to declare for the NBA Draft, leaving college for the pros is once again the rule rather than the exception. Brandan Wright of North Carolina is the latest top talent to look at the potential of NBA riches compared with the joy of another year on a college campus and decided they wanted the pros to "show me the money"!

Earlier Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook all decided that being national runner-up was good enough and have cast their lot with the league. Kevin Durant is gone from Texas and Kansas lost Julian Wright. Final Four participant Georgetown won't have Jeff Green or Roy Hibbert back and Glen Davis has moved on to where he won't be viewed as a big baby any more. As of this writing the list could still potentially grow with the likes of Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur of Kansas and Georgia Tech teammates Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton.

The closest thing to the Gators this year came from those same Tar Heels who lost Brandan Wright. Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson, both likely first round picks decided to stay in school; so even without Wright the Heels will be a top team in 2008. Still, had Wright followed the lead of his teammates North Carolina would clearly be the favorite to win it all.

Gator Quartet Extra Special
What this experience serves to do is remind all of us how incredibly special these last two years have been. Not only did Florida become just the second team in the 64-team NCAA Tournament era to repeat as champs. They proved that their brand of selflessness and camaraderie was truly unique.

Not that it was all altruistic. I mean let's be fair, they all could have decided to give it another go and seek a three-peat. But that turned out to be beyond even their level of unselfishness. Come June 28th, they'll be on their way to their next adventure. This time they'll be on their own, rather than the most unique quartet in college hoops history.

Fightin Gators Top Stories