There were more than enough names among the 61 college underclassmen and 12 high school or prep school players on the NBA draft early-entry list released Thursday to cause near-endless hours of discussion – or, in many cases, head-scratching.
Considering that the college accomplishments or long-term potential of so many of those players are so anything but breath-taking, the fact that another group of players didn't add their names to the list filled with so many wannabes is almost startling.
Here are the most noteworthy of the guys who decided that spending the 2005-06 season playing on the college level wasn't exactly the equivalent of spending a couple of hours in a dentist chair:
*Shelden Williams, J.J. Redick and Josh McRoberts (Duke): Williams and Redick, who should be
consensus first-team pre-season All-
The 6-foot-10 McRoberts is the best prospect – college and NBA – in the high school class of 2005 and almost certainly would have been a Top 10 selection on June 28 if he had entered the draft pool. One wonders how much the fact that McRoberts didn't submit draft paperwork factored into the fact that current Duke junior Shavlik Randolph did.
With Williams, Redick and McRoberts, and a few other very good players, too, in Blue Devils' uniforms next season, mark Duke no worse than the co-favorite (with Connecticut) to win the 2006 national title.
*Rudy Gay, Josh Boone and
As expected, sophomore forward Charlie Villanueva entered the draft (and has signed with an agent, so he's long-gone). What wasn't quite as expected was McDonald's All-America center Andrew Bynum filing paperwork. He supposedly needs a commitment from a franchise picking in the lottery to stay in the draft but many NBA decision makers wouldn't be surprised if he's still in the draft, lotto commitment or not.
Regardless of whether Bynum is
taking classes in
He'll easily be the best player in the far west next season and makes the Bulldogs – even with the loss of senior Ronny Turiaf – a pretty good long-shot choice to be playing in Indianapolis on Final Four weekend next April.
Even if McDonald's All-America guard C.J. Miles doesn't do the prudent thing and jerk his name out of the draft pool, ASAP, Gibson and his Longhorn buddies will be the clear-cut favorites to win the Big 12 Conference and be one of the seven or eight strongest candidates to join Duke and Connecticut in the RCA Dome next April.
Back for their senior and junior seasons, respectively, Smith and Dudley will be viable All-America and John R. Wooden Award candidates, and will help make the Eagles the favorite to finish just behind Duke in the program's first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But they did more on the spring
national all-star game circuit than did some of their peers and all three
probably would have been tendered invitations to play in the NBA Chicago
Pre-Draft Camp. Instead, they'll be living in dorm rooms in