The very thought of a player on the squad leaving early will likely draw a gag reflex from Wildcats fans, who endured a summer of anxiety as two players on the team decided to test the waters. The results were disastrous for the players, the team and its fans.
We all know the stories: Wingman Kalenna Azibuike left the team, hired and agent and failed to get drafted. Randolph Morris' story had a somewhat happier ending, since he was finally able to return to the team, but not before a lengthy NCAA suspension that may or may not have severely impacted the team's performance this year.
Rajon Rondo may be the player to watch this summer. After the Connecticut game, Rondo said, "I am just focusing on school. I haven't even thought about next year. We have a team meeting after we get back and I will talk to coach Smith then to get his advice," Rondo said.
Rondo's statement was neither comforting, nor convincing. Chris Monter, Scout.com's NBA draft analysis expert and publisher of CollegeBasketballNews.com, thinks Rondo has little to lose and perhaps quite a bit to gain by going through the evaluation process.
"He certainly raised his stock from last year," Monter said. "He gained some national attention. He is solid defensively, he's quick and he knows how to penetrate and distribute. He would be a decent prospect."
Monter indicated that whether or not Rondo would get drafted would depend in large part on who else might come out early or who might find their way into the draft from Europe. "With the senior class this season, it's not a particularly rich draft for point guards," said Monter. "At this point it is just way too early to tell."
So what would Rondo have to gain?
"If he went about it right, Rondo would go to the camps and the workouts, let the (NBA) scouts and GM's see him and give him some feedback," said Monter, "it could help him know and understand where he may or may not fit and what he needs to work on."
By going about it right, Monter refers to the critical decision to NOT hire an agent, a decision that Kalenna Azibuike did not make and may be regretting for some time to come. Should Rondo elect to test the waters and does not hire an agent, he could return to the team if he does not get drafted.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what Rondo needs to work on – outside shooting and free throw shooting. Rondo hit some key three pointers during the season, including a critical one in the UConn game. But for the most part, Rondo has been extremely inconsistent from the outside. Rondo finished the season connecting on just four of his last 20 three point attempts.
His free throw shooting was just 57% for the year, hardly a statistic that will make an NBA GM all warm and fuzzy.
"That would be a problem," Monter said, "most of the successful NBA point guards are good shooters from the field and the line."
That's putting it lightly. As of March 20, of the top 26 guards listed as point guards in the NBA, half of them shot over 80% for the free throw line for the season. Only two of them, Tony Parker and Baron Davis, shot under 70%. No one has shot under 60% as Rondo did this season.
The news for Rondo in three-point shooting does not get much better. Nine NBA point guards are shooting over 40% from three point range. All but five of the rest are shooting 35% or better, considerably better than the 27% shot by Rondo this year from long range.
"And of course the NBA three point line is further away," Monter added. "I don't think there is any question that those areas are ones where he would need to improve.