NCAA BK

BURLISON: To-go order from McDonald's

Share This Story

Frank Burlison

 
   
 
Although Monday was the deadline to ¿declare¿ for the June NBA draft, the league isn¿t expected to release the list of high school players, college underclassmen and foreign players younger than 21 who did so for a few days. But there will be at least six 2003 McDonald¿s All-Americas on the list, surpassing the previous high of five who submitted their names in 2001. If you¿re shaking your head, wondering who (anyone who tells them what they want to hear) and what (visions of the NBA lifestyle and all that it entails) is getting into the heads of these 17- and 18-year-olds, and just how much more diluted the college game is going to become because of it, ponder this, too: Barring the highly unlikely passage of a ¿minimum age¿ for draft eligibility (20 is the age being floated right now), things aren¿t going to get any better for the influx of college talent. In fact, a year from now we¿ll probably be looking back wistfully at the days when ¿only¿ six high school players decide to skip college for at least a season before diving headlong into what they hope will be long and prosperous NBA careers. And it doesn¿t matter how many highly touted preps (anyone recall how wonderful DeAngelo Collins and Lenny Cooke looked at the 2001 Adidas Camp before going undrafted last June?) end up crashing, head first, in the process. I¿ll let you in on a little secret: None of the at least five McDonald¿s AAs who have joined classmate LeBron James in the draft pool have given more than seven or eight seconds¿ worth of thought to Collins and Cooke getting blanked on draft night last June. But they¿ve spend hours visualizing having the same kind of impact as NBA rookies next season as did 2002 McDonald¿s AA Amare Stoudemire. And here¿s something else to consider: I have a strong hunch that, although they might not ¿fess up to it publicly, Ndudi Ebi, James Lang, Travis Outlaw, Kendrick Perkins and Charlie Villanueva, the other five 2003 preps who filed draft paperwork with the NBA, are also looking forward to proving to the world next season that they¿re better than James. In case you hadn¿t noticed, confidence isn¿t exactly lacking for players with NBA aspirations. With each draft, the NBA taps a little deeper into the college talent well. And the futures commodities that can be found overseas or in the high school ranks — even if the payoffs aren¿t likely to come for two or three seasons — are going to appear more and more enticing options. Here¿s a prediction for the 2004 draft: There will be at least a dozen Class of 2004 McDonald¿s All-Americas who will kiss off their NCAA letters of intent (if they even bother to sign them at all).

Not Ndubi

LeBron James, James Lang, Kendrick Perkins, Charlie Villanueva and, to a lesser degree, Travis Outlaw were all earmarked for the 2003 draft as early as last July. But the decision of the 6-foot-8 Ndudi Ebi (Westbury Christian in ) to jump into the draft pool is the one that will have the most impact on the 2003-04 college season. Ebi signed with Arizona last November and was nearly universally expected to play at least one season in Tucson. He supposedly has told Wildcats¿ coaches that will pull his name out of the draft pool by the June 19 deadline to do so if he isn¿t convinced he¿ll be a lottery (Top 13) selection on June 26. Guess what? There will be enough folks whispering into his ear to convince him that he will be just that. And I¿m guessing that Ebi isn¿t going to need a lot of convincing. With Ebi, the Wildcats would be a consensus choice to win another Pac-10 title. And they would also crop up on most preseason Top Fives. Remove Ebi from the equation and could supplant Arizona as the Pac-10¿s best team.

Same coach, new team

A month ago, Bruce Weber thought he would be spending this past weekend with his wife in Las Vegas, per his invitation to speak at Ed Janka¿s Nike Coaching Clinic at the Paris Hotel. Weber did, in fact, fulfill that speaking obligation for Janka early Sunday morning, but he made the trip West without his wife, Megan. And, after flying into Las Vegas late Saturday night, he was climbing on another airliner at McCarron at 11 Sunday morning. That¿s because Weber was invited to speak as the head coach of and came to Las Vegas as the head coach at Illinois. ¿Three months ago (when he accepted the invitation), it seemed like a great idea,¿ he said Saturday, shortly after checking into his hotel room some 10 hours before he spoke in front of an estimated mostly high school and community college coaches. But he jetted back to Carbondale Sunday, where Mother¿s Day duties also included ¿helping my wife¿ prepare for the Webers¿ move to Champaign. ¿I¿m just trying to survive right now,¿ he said. Indeed, less than 24 hours after the April 30 press conference introducing Weber as Bill Self¿s replacement, Weber was putting his new players through individual workouts in Assembly Hall. Weber spent 18 seasons as an assistant to Gene Keady at before being hired at five years ago and was looked upon as the probable successor once Keady took his comb-over into retirement. But once the call came from Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther, Weber didn¿t have to ponder a career move very long. ¿Coach (Keady) told me ¿You can¿t pass this up,¿ ¿ Weber said. Keady gave his protégé a nice little boost in the Illinois job search, too. ¿Ron (Guenther) likes Coach and he called him two or three times during the process,¿ Weber said.

Bouncing around the country

  • coach Paul Hewitt, one of the speakers at the Las Vegas coaching clinic Saturday, said he knew the chances that he would have for a sophomore season slipped from the ¿slim¿ to the ¿none¿ range once it became apparent that the 6-foot-10 freshman had a chance to end up as the No. 4 pick on June 26. ¿How can you tell a kid to turn down an opportunity to earn millions of dollars?¿ he asked rhetorically. Hewitt believes, though, that there¿s a decent chance that 2002 ACC Freshman of the Year , who was granted his release from to pursue other college options, could opt to return to Atlanta for his junior season. The 6-8, 245-pound Nelson would be one of the ACC¿s best post players if he¿s back in a uniform.
  • Who was the big winner in the ¿will they go or will they stay¿ draft pool sweepstakes? That¿s easy — Missouri. and will return to play their senior seasons for Coach Quin Snyder. The 6-5 Paulding had a decent shot at being chosen somewhere in the middle of the first round and maybe even in the lottery. Johnson¿s draft positioning was considerably less promising than his teammate¿s but he should be a very solid first-round possibility a year from now after a senior season in which he¿ll be among the four or five best post players in the college game.
  • athletic director Scott Johnson moved boldly and swiftly when it became apparent the Bulldogs were on the verge of possibly losing Coach Ray Lopes to . Johnson got the approval for a new eight-year, approximate $500,000-per season contract for Lopes, who led FSU to a 20-8 record in his first season. Voila! Suddenly, Lopes was no longer a candidate to replace Larry Eustachy at ISU! Lopes, though, seems likely to find his name cropping up for future job openings. The next one could be after next season, when some pals of coach Charlie Spoonhour think he may call it quits.
  • Just a few weeks ago, 6-8, 245-pound Linas Kleiza (Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md.) — the best player in the prep class of 2003 who didn¿t make the McDonald¿s All-America squad — seemed headed for or . Now, however, insiders expect Kleiza — who some thought played better than anyone else, LeBron James included, during workouts prior to the All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., late last month — will end up committing to a late contender for his services. The ultimate winner? Don¿t be surprised if it¿s North Carolina. The addition of Kleiza could give Roy Williams a starting lineup of Kleiza, and up front, and and in the backcourt. And that would be as gifted a starting five as anyone could offer up next season.
  • Who is going to pick up the scholarship that was vacated when (who reportedly agreed to a $1 million-plus annual endorsement contract with Nike, by the way) bid farewell? It could be Darryl Watkins, a 6-10, 230-pound center at Paterson Catholic in New Jersey who strikes most observers as being nearly as lethargic at times as he is physically gifted. With and returning in the middle for the Orangemen, though, there wouldn¿t be any pressure on Watkins to make much of an on-court contribution next season.
  • Josh Smith, a 6-9 forward at Powder Springs, Ga.¿s McEachern High, may relocate to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., for his senior season. He is, conservatively, one of the top 12 prospects in the Class of 2004. And he¿s also one of the dozen or so preps we could see in the NBA draft pool a year from now. Senior writer covers college basketball for FOXSports.com and can be reached at his e-mail address, fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Arizona, Stanford, Illinois, Purdue, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Southern Illinois, Syracuse, Missouri, Iowa State, Fresno State, UNLV

    More Stories From Frank Burlison



    More Than Sports on MSN

    Fox Sports Store

      itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
      Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
      Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
      Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
      Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
      Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
      Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
      adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
      adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
      Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
      Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..