If NBA General Managers so desired, they could fill both rounds of draft picks with underclassmen that have declared their eligibility for the upcoming NBA draft. Sixty-three players have already decided to test the NBA waters early and join and already sizeable graduating senior class. This list does not yet include players like Greg Oden, who many experts believe would be the number one pick in the draft, but has still not yet made a decision to make the jump. It also does not include names like Fran Vasquez, a power forward from Spain, or Martynas Andriuskevicius a monsterous 7-foot-3 center from Lithuania, and a growing list of other foreign players that are sure to play a factor in the draft.
And with each new early entry that begins to surface, the hopes of Kentucky's two early entry hopefuls, Kelenna Azubuike and Randolph Morris, as well as the Wildcats' graduating senior, Chuck Hayes, fades a notch.
Many of the young players testing the waters have at least done the smart thing, not hiring an agent. Randolph Morris is in that group. Morris now has the opportunity to attend the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago in June and evaluate his chances of being selected in the first round, which guarantees him a contract and spot on a team.
If Morris does not feel like he will be selected in the first round, he has retained the option of returning to the Wildcats. But Chris Monter, of monterdraftnews.com thinks Morris might be in a tough situation.
Morris has been projected by some experts as a selection in the low twenties. Still others think he may go much later in the first round. And some speculate he may slip from the first round altogether.
"Morris needs to go back to Kentucky, in my opinion," said Monter, "that would be my advice. He needs to learn to rebound better and score more consistently."
Still, NBA General Managers have a long history of
rolling the dice on quality big men with solid upside potential even if that potential has
yet to be realized, "But there is always a risk when you are looking at a player like
Morris who has upside but really hasn't proven it yet," Monter said, "We have 63
underclassmen or high schoolers now, and we don't know how many more will enter. We don't
yet know how many foreign players will be part of the draft.
Morris is in a fragile position right now, as is any early entry that is projected to go in the late first round. Every time a Brandon Bass or an Ike Diogu enters his name in the draft, the potential for Morris to slip out of the first round becomes a greater and greater risk, "That is one reason why Morris should just go back to college," Monter said, "there is no real reason to take such risks. He should go back to Kentucky, improve his game, become more consistent and evaluate his chances next year."
In short, this is not a great year for players to come out early. With this many players coming out early, it would seem to me that Morris would need to play extremely impressive in the NBA draft camp to increase his chances to solidify that first round selection. There is now doubt, by looking at the list below, that dozens of NBA hopefuls are going to come away extremely disappointed with the result.
|Underclassmen in 2005 NBA draft|
|Deji Akindele||Chicago State||C||So.|
|Jose Juan Barea||Northeastern||G||Jr.|
|Martellus Bennett||Texas A&M||F||Signee|
|Ike Diogu||Arizona State||F||Jr.|
|Monta Ells||Mississippi State||G||Signee|
|Raymond Felton||North Carolina||G||Jr.|
|Torin Francis||Notre Dame||F||Jr.|
|Gerald Green||Oklahoma State||G||Signee|
|Mike Hall||George Washington||G||Jr.|
|Jarrett Jack||Georgia Tech||G||Jr.|
|Dwayne Jones||Saint Joseph's||C||Jr.|
|Dennis Latimore||Notre Dame||F||Jr.|
|Darshan Luckey||St. Francis, PA||G||Jr.|
|Sean May||North Carolina||F||Jr.|
|Rashad McCants||North Carolina||G||Jr.|
|Pops Mensah-Bonsu||George Washington||F||Jr.|
|J.R. Morris||Seton Hall||G||Jr.|
|Tim Parham||Maryland Eastern Shore||C||Jr.|
|Chris Paul||Wake Forest||G||So.|
|Kevin Pittsnogle||West Virginia||C||Jr.|
|Steven Smith||La Salle||F||Jr.|
|Marcus Slaughter||San Diego State||F||So.|
|Von Wafer||Florida State||G||So.|
|Eric Williams||Wake Forest||F||Jr.|
|Marvin Williams||North Carolina||F||Fr.|
|Antoine Wright||Texas A&M||G/F||Jr.|