The Florida Gators just made history by winning consecutive NCAA national championships. In the process, it’s possible they have made it fashionable to stay in school and reject millions of dollars from the NBA.
But what’s best for Joakim Noah or Al Horford may not be best for Greg Oden.
The bottom line is that no one can answer that question other than the player himself, with help from his family. Florida coach Billy Donovan put it best during the Final Four in Atlanta.
“I’m not sitting here saying that every single player should come back to school and should never, ever leave early,” Donovan said. “But I feel bad for kids who are pushed out or given bad advice or wrong information. And people make comments about draft status and stock.
“I think what speaks volumes about these kids [from Florida] getting the national championship, is that in this day and age they came back to play and compete because they were happy doing that and they wanted to take on that challenge. ... If Greg Oden is out there and really in his heart he wants to go back to Ohio State, he should do what he wants to do.”
If the title game truly was the final game of Oden’s college career, then he went out in style. Ohio State didn’t win the national championship but Oden’s personal performance was outstanding on college basketball’s biggest stage. He had 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting, 12 rebounds, four blocks, a steal and an assist in 38 minutes.
Despite the speculation that he will be one of the top two picks in the NBA draft and despite reports that a plan is already in place to declare his eligibility for the draft, Oden has repeatedly said he hasn’t made a decision.
After the national championship game, Oden was asked about his future.
“Next question,” he said. “This isn’t the time or the place to talk about that.”
Oden doesn’t show a lot of emotion on the court. It’s hard to tell if he enjoyed his freshman season with the Buckeyes or was just passing time. On the other hand, Durant really did seem like a kid having a good time with the Texas Longhorns. But he's going pro, he announced Tuesday.
How would Durant turn down the money that goes with being one of the top two picks? What if he had decided to come back and gotten injured?
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“I tell them all the time, ‘You’re not tricking anybody,’ ” Donovan said. “You’ve got to go out and compete and play and work and get better.”
College basketball players today need to learn how to trust their coaches and the information coaches get from the NBA. If Durant and Oden know they are going to be the top two picks, they really have no choice but to enter the draft. If there are underclassmen who have sound information that they will be lottery picks, they should explore their options carefully.
But if you are, for example, Brandan Wright at North Carolina (random choice) and the only thing you know about your status is what you read on the mock selection boards of the Internet, you are in trouble.
Players such as Wright, Spencer Hawes of Washington, Jeff Green of Georgetown, and Nick Young of Southern Cal can look on those boards now and see their names among the top 11 or 12 picks. That’s nothing but opinion and conjecture at this point. It’s way too early in the process to think that is accurate.
Family situations played a huge role at Florida. Noah’s parents are international celebrities and money wasn’t an issue. Waiting an extra year wasn’t a gamble for Noah. His game is ready for the NBA now and he has accomplished everything he can at the college level — short of a three-peat with the Gators.
But Noah and his three teammates — Corey Brewer, Taurean Green and Al Horford — decided Thursday to forgo their senior seasons and enter the NBA draft.
CBT: Turning the page on the Mike Rice scandal, Rutgers hired Louisville's Julie Hermann as athletic director on Wednesday. But, Hermann has a prior scandal of her own.
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