Speights to Stick Foot in NBA Waters

To virtually nobody's surprised Florida sophomore Marreese Speights has decided to put his name in for the NBA Draft. According to an announcement from the University Athletic Association, Speights will not hire an agent right away and will keep open the possibility of returning for his junior year.

NBA rules allow a player to wait until the middle of June before making a final decision on whether or not to end his collegiate career.

This is expected to be a freshman dominated draft with Michael Beasley of Kansas State and Memphis guard Derrick Rose at the top of the list. Other first year collegians expected to move on include Erik Gordon of Indiana, Jerry Bayless of Arizona, LSU's Anthony Randolph, DeAndre Jordan of Texas A&M and O.J. Mayo of Southern Cal just for openers. All of those guys would be projected ahead of Speights on draft day.

There is a pretty wide opinion of Speights from people I have talked to who work in and/or cover the NBA. Some think it would be a huge mistake to draft him at all, others say round two and still others are certain a big guy with his offensive skill set is a lock for the first round. It'll be quite a challenge for Billy Donovan to get a consensus of opinion on the matter to help Speights make the best decision possible.

Speights finished his sophomore season with a 14.5 scoring average, grabbing 8.1 rebounds a night. He led the Gators with a shooting percentage of .624 and shot .692 from the free throw line. Speights led the Gators with 49 blocked shots, but that's just 1.4 per game. He also had a negative (34/62) assist/turnover differential.

From where I sit Speights should return for another season. Even if he's convinced he'll go in round one, he will be in the last third of the round. Additionally his weaknesses on defense will severely limit his playing time and could doom him to an NBA career like that which Donnell Harvey had. Should Speights return to UF, work on his conditioning, strength, defensive footwork and passion he could be a top ten pick a year from now. That's an investment well worth making.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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