Draft Lesson?

The plummeting draft status of players in the NFL Draft comes as a surprise to no one (except, perhaps, the players themselves), because it's something that has been seen over and over again. While that lesson is too late for those involved, might it be a warning for a certain Mountaineer who is pondering his options in the upcoming NBA Draft?

Joe Alexander, who is gathering information and lining up workouts to determine his status in the draft, has a difficult process in front of him. Not only does he have much to learn and filter through in the six weeks remaining before he makes his decision, but he also has to figure out who and what he can trust to support that choice. There are all sorts of mock drafts, opinions and recommendations floating around any selection process, but as was clearly illustrated in the NFL Draft, much of that is made up of pure fertilizer.

Take, for instance, WVU's Johnny Dingle. He was apparently told that he would go in the second or third round. But draft weekend went by without hearing his name. Some sources tabbed Darius Reynaud as the first player to be taken from WVU, but he, too, didn't make the draft list.

The lesson to be learned here? Choose your advisors wisely. Unfortunately, players going through this are doing so for the first time, and while it might be a bit like the recruiting process out of high school in one sense, it's far different in many others. No matter how much advice a player gets, or how many different draft rankings he receives, it's always likely that he's going to listen to those who place him highest on the list. If one source out of ten says, 'You're a second round pick', then human nature dictates that's the one you are going to put your faith in, even though it might not be the soundest of evaluations.

So, in starting down the path to learn what his NBA chances might be, who should Alexander trust? One of the best resources is the person who helped transform him into a first-team all-Big East selection.

"We've talked a lot," head coach Bob Huggins said of the time that has passed since Alexander announced his intention to evaluate his draft status. "We've talked about various aspects of the decision. Joe is like everyone else [going through this for the first time]. He doesn't understand the process, and you can't understand the process until you have experienced it. I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of good players, and I've had a lot of guys go through it, so I probably understand it better than a lot of people do."

Huggins, who can be counted on to speak his mind in most situations, isn't bragging about knowing more than the next guy. He has put Alexander in contact with different sources, and obviously has people that he trusts as well. However, he is not forcing anything on Alexander, and is clearly keeping the junior's best interests first and foremost.

"I would [put Joe in touch with some of my former players who went through it] if that's what Joe wants, but I don't want guys just talking to Joe if he doesn't want to talk to them," Huggins explained. "Joe has talked with different people, and I think he is getting a good idea of what is going to transpire."

Huggins has long demonstrated that he's not averse to seeing his players leave early for the draft, if that is the best thing for them to do. Of course, he would love to have Alexander back for his senior season, but he's not going to push him to make a decision that isn't the best for him. As to what that decision is, it's probably too early to tell. Huggins, noting that "Joe is very much his own person", will provide him with whatever he needs to make that choice right one.

The challenge for Alexander at this point is two-fold. Obviously, he must perform well in individual workouts to help his potential draft status. But he must also consider all the advice he receives not only for its content, but also for its source and motive. In doing so, he could avoid the draft pitfalls that have caught so many other players.

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