|This story originally published on FrankHoops.com|
If Joakim Noah makes good on
his April 7 proclamation in
Reasonable arguments could be made on behalf of North Carolina, where Tyler Hansbrough and a bunch of other quality underclassmen will be joined by the best freshman class in the country, as well as Ohio State, where the most dominant low-post presence to enter college since Shaquille O'Neal was a freshman at LSU in 1989, Greg Oden, will be donning a Buckeyes' uniform.
But the Gators, other than in their
narrow Sweet 16 victory over
By the way, didn't Sean May
also make the "I'm coming back next season" vow, as well, during the
post-championship celebration in
Yes, we've heard the "I'm coming back" declarations, after national championship celebrations (in football and basketball), before.
So there is an inclination to fall into the "I'll believe Noah is bypassing the NBA Draft when the April 29 deadline (for underclassmen to declare for the draft) has come and gone and he hasn't filed the draft paperwork" mode.
I think he would be the No. 1 choice, over the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas), Tyrus Thomas (LSU), Rudy Gay (Connecticut) or Adam Morrison (Gonzaga) – all underclassmen, with only the first already declaring for the draft -- if he were decide to skip his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility.
Yes, he is in need of bulk and strength to compete successfully on the NBA level and, yes, his jump shot needs a whole lot of refinement. But none of the aforementioned candidates for the top slot on June 28 have his combination of size, across-the-board athleticism, basketball skill, effort and exuberance.
Should he return for his junior
season, I'd suggest that he would be the best college "big man" to turn his back
on the draft since Tim Duncan
returned for his 1996-97 senior season at
BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY
*All of the college players out there who are still pondering the "should I go or should I stay?" question about the NBA Draft would be wise to consider the senior seasons that Brandon Roy and Randy Foye just enjoyed at Washington and Villanova, respectively – and what those performances meant to their NBA stock.
The consensus first-team All-Americas, and top five-finishers in the John R. Wooden Award balloting, could be the first guards selected on June 28. Yet, each would have been, at best, a late-second selection if they had opted to enter last year's draft pool after their junior seasons.
"It (playing for four seasons for
Lorenzo Romar) helped me to become a
much more complete player," he said after J.J. Redick was announced as the Wooden
Award winner in
"It shows that you (other college players) shouldn't be worrying about rushing to the NBA. You can enjoy your college experience and, in the end, it (the NBA) will still be there."
*Did anyone really think there was
much of a chance that John Calipari
was going to leave
Under its present makeup, Calipari
and the Tigers should continue to dominate, more or less, Conference
If he'd moved to
*The estimated 1,200 that turned
Some of the head coaches of men's
programs sighted included Ben Howland of UCLA (who served as a pallbearer for the sister of Pittsburgh
men's coach Jamie Dixon), David Leitao (Virginia, the head coach
at DePaul when Maggie Dixon was an
assistant there), Jerry Wainwright
(DePaul), Brad Holland (University
of San Diego), Doug Wojcik (Tulsa)
and Randy Bennett (Saint Mary's).
Soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee Geno
*The return of sophomore guard Daniel Gibson (who said Monday night that he will not enter the NBA Draft pool) and junior forward P.J. Tucker (who hasn't make a decision yet) would all but lock Texas into the preseason Top 10 next fall, even with the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge to the NBA.
Getting another strong presence in the post could be an issue, though. Although he's 6-10, McDonald's All-America Kevin Durant – one of the three best prospects in the Class of 2006 – is much more a perimeter player than he is someone Rick Barnes could keep almost exclusively in the high or low post areas.
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the