An Open Letter to Marreese Speights

Now that the NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead to the NBA Draft. Marreese Speights is the only Gator in the draft - for now.

Dear Marreese,

Over the next six weeks or so you'll get more advice about your future than you can imagine. Much it will come from those who have much to gain from your decision. This advice comes from someone who is reasonably well informed on the issues you are facing and has nothing to gain no matter what you decide to do when the NBA deadline arrives in mid-June.

I could begin by pointing out something you already know. You are not ready to play at the next level. NBA caliber big men should be putting up a double-double every night. You managed just nine last season. Oh the U-Mass game was impressive when you grabbed a career high 18 rebounds, but I can't forget the fact that you averaged just seven boards in the seven games prior to that performance. Mo, (you don't mind if I call you Mo do you?) you just haven't developed the level of consistency and conditioning to put up big numbers every night.

But the fact you aren't ready. Per se is not that big a deal. After all, most of the guys that turn pro before the end of their collegiate eligibility aren't ready. Just look at the Gators' own history. It turned out well for Mike Miller, but what kind of NBA career did Donnell Harvey have? What about Anthony Roberson, Christian Drejer, Matt Walsh and Kwame Brown? Every one of those guys would have been better equipped for the NBA by postponing pro ball for at least a year. Shoot even Taurean Green could have helped himself by coming back this past season, though it probably would have killed him to play without the other "'04s".

Of course Kwame and Donnell were both first round draft picks and got a whole lot of money, so I'm not criticizing them. The point is you need to be aware of the fact that agents and NBA teams will lie to you about when you'll be drafted. If you know for certain that you'll be a first round pick than go for it. The worst thing that happens is you make $2 million watching NBA games courtside over the next three years. How can you be certain? Trust coach Donovan.

Now what about the pros and cons of staying in college for another season? There's no question you could improve your status for the 2009 draft. If you can take your averages from 15/8 to 18/10 you would be a lottery pick for sure. If you worked hard and improved you low post defense and shot blocking as well, top five is not out of the question. Keep in mind next year's college freshmen will not be anywhere near as good as this year's. That means returning college players have a better chance of dominating the top of the draft.

You have to ask yourself are you willing to work that hard on and off the floor to become a better player at this level. If you are, then another year of college hoops will do you a world of good. If not, go ahead and grab the money. You won't play much, and you may not develop much at all. But that might not matter to you.

Good luck in making your decision. Either way, I wish you success in the future.

All the best,

Larry Vettel (The gray haired guy who does the Gator games on TV)

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


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