Cup Choy: Savo goes undrafted, leaves us all wondering why
By Danny Cup Choy
Thursday, June 27 2002
Are you kidding me? Did that really just happen? How does a guy go from being a second round lock to being unemployed? Predrag Savovic did not get drafted, and I for one do not understand what was going through the mind of the GM's in the NBA Draft.
I know I am not going insane, but just to be safe, I called the UH Basketball Office and asked for Coach Riley Wallace. He's out of the office until August, so I asked the assistants. Jackson Wheeler said the staff is deferring comment to Wallace. It just seems like nobody is happy about this, including me. Since there isn't a gag rule on me, here goes …
Savo was good enough to get drafted. He has the shot, the body, the intelligence, and the heart. Savo should be upset, Hawaii basketball should be upset, and the fans of the Warriors should be upset. Savovic had a dream that was crushed. While he might try to put an apathetic spin on the recent events, I do not believe for a second that he was prepared to go undrafted. Savo, his agent, his coach, and everyone in between were ready to celebrate on draft night. Unfortunately, the bottles of champagne were never opened and the congratulatory hugs turned into embraces of sympathy. It is true that Savovic has a lot of options. Experts say that in some cases, going undrafted is better because a player gets to choose the best possible situation in which they can make the team. It is a logical argument, and is probably a valid one. However, being drafted is the honor that all players strive to accomplish. Savovic has been robbed of that honor, and he is not the only one who should take it personally.
This is a slap in the face to the University of Hawaii basketball program. The NBA does not have any respect for Hawaii basketball players, and it can be seen in the fact that no UH athlete has been drafted since 1989. Should Trevor Ruffin have been drafted? I think so. Should AC Carter of been drafted? Definitely. What about Savo? Yes. The fact that Fresno State, a team that Hawaii has owned the past two years, can get three players drafted while Savo never gets a call is ludicrous. Some might say that players are drafted as individuals and coming from a better team means nothing. I completely disagree. The fact that Savo led Hawaii to big wins over a Fresno State team that consisted of three players worthy of being drafted just makes Savo's case that much stronger. On top of that, one could make a compelling argument that Savo was the best player in the WAC last year. So while Hawaii continues to have success over the past five years, they do not have one drafted player to show for it. The NBA has no respect for Hawaii ballers, and until players who deserve to get drafted are selected, this sickening trend will continue.
Finally, Warrior fans should be upset. We were robbed of a chance to feel proud of our own who made it onto the world's biggest stage. We missed a golden opportunity to have the University of Hawaii's name mentioned alongside the Duke's and Kansas's of the college basketball world. It was our time to cheer, our time to celebrate, and our time to feel pride. Remember how good it felt to hear the words "Ashley Lelie" on air during the NFL Draft. In a way, a UH athlete takes us all into the league in which they are drafted. They will forever be linked to our beloved team and state. June 26, 2002 should have been another one of those special moments for the sports fans of Hawaii.
After the draft went off the air, and I dejectedly rolled off the couch after hours of anticipation and anxiety, I was only left with one question: When will the next Hawaii player get drafted? I went over the current roster in my head, and the only name that came to mind was Carl English. A tall guard who can get his own shot, shows good range, and is incredibly competitive. Sounds to me like a player that the NBA would covet. But then again, I have had these thoughts before.