Stay or go? Ten teams that are waiting on NBA draft decisions
Butler is a top-five team with Gordon Hayward, but he's probably leaving
Xavier's Jordan Crawford also is most likely headed to the NBA draft
Look for both JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore to return to Purdue
The NBA Draft Limbo Period is laughably short this year. The official window between the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft (April 25) and the deadline to pull out (May 8) is 13 days, but unofficially, it's even tighter. NBA teams don't yet have the official list of underclassmen in hand, can't begin working players out until April 29 and can't schedule workouts that conflict with class times. Realistically, all the draft prospects have is 10 days in which to decide if they'll sign with an agent and stay in the draft. These are the 10 college teams with the most at stake during that hurried process:
Waiting On: Gordon Hayward, 6-foot-9 Soph. SG/SF (15.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg)
What's In The Balance: The Bulldogs are a top-five team with Hayward and probably somewhere in the 19-25 range without him. Off-guard Shelvin Mack (24.9 percent of possessions used) and power forward Matt Howard (24.8 percent) were just as prominent in Butler's offense as Hayward was (24.5 percent), but his ability to create mismatches on offense, guard all five positions and clean up the defensive glass gave coach Brad Stevens a huge tactical advantage in game-planning.
Likely Outcome: My feeling, after consulting a few sources with knowledge of Hayward's situation, is that he'll stay in the draft. He's leaving his options open by continuing to attend classes, and working out with an Indianapolis-based trainer, but it would be a big surprise -- even to people at Butler -- if he came back for a junior season. His NBA stock is near its peak in the 15-25 range, and as long as his post-workout feedback still reflects that, the smart business decision is to turn pro. Don't make the mistake of lumping him in the same boat with Duke star Kyle Singler, either: Singler's stock was lower for this season, and he felt that he could play his way up into that fringe-lottery area with another year in college. Hayward is probably on his best-possible footing right now.
Waiting On: Jordan Crawford, 6-4 Soph. SG (20.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
What's In The Balance: A backcourt brigade of Crawford, Terrell Holloway, Dante Jackson, Mark Lyons and Brad Redford might be the best (and most diverse, skill-wise) in the country other than Duke or Michigan State. Crawford, who emerged as one of the college game's most dynamic scorers late in the season, would be a preseason All-America if he came back to school and the Musketeers would be in the top 10. Without him, they're more in the late teens or early 20s -- a solid defensive team lacking in major offensive firepower.
Likely Outcome: Crawford stays in the draft. He certainly wants to be in the draft -- that was the word during the end of the NCAA tournament, and it hadn't changed as of Monday -- but a source said his family is carefully gathering intel from NBA teams before signing with an agent. The only scenario in which I could see him returning is if he takes a hard-line stance about needing a first-round guarantee by May 8. For someone who's in the 25-45 range, that could be hard to obtain.
Waiting On: JaJuan Johnson, 6-10 Jr. F/C (15.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg); E'Twaun Moore, 6-4 Jr. SG (16.4 ppg, 2.7 apg)
What's In The Balance: Purdue is due some positive karma after its season was derailed by Robbie Hummel's ACL tear. Had that not happened, the Boilers might have been the second home-state team to make the Final Four in Indy. With a nucleus of Johnson, Moore and Hummel back, along with fully healthy point guard Lewis Jackson, they could finally break through and chase an NCAA title. If Johnson were to leave, their frontcourt would be too thin -- and too small -- for them to be considered a contender.
Likely Outcome: Multiple NBA scouts I spoke with said they expected both Johnson and Moore to return to school. Johnson is the only player with a real risk of leaving, but he, like Moore, isn't considered first-round material at present. The better option would be to stay in West Lafayette and hope for a stock boost with a strong 2010-11 tournament.
4. Morehead State
Waiting On: Kenneth Faried, 6-8 Jr. F/C (16.9 ppg, 13.0 rpg)
What's In The Balance: Faried means almost everything to the Eagles -- he's the nation's No. 1 defensive rebounder (36.7 percent) and No. 8 offensive rebounder (16.2 percent), with a wingspan and motor that makes him one of the draft's bigger sleeper prospects. With him, Morehead State can contend with Murray State for the Ohio Valley Conference crown and a second trip to the NCAA tournament in three seasons. Without him, it's unlikely that the Eagles can give the Racers a real fight.
Likely Outcome: TBD after workouts. DraftExpress did a podcast with Faried in which he seemed open -- but not locked into -- the idea of turning pro, and I know that some NBA scouts are high enough on his rebounding skills to put him in consideration for a guaranteed contract. The feedback Faried receives from his workout tour is likely to be the deciding factor.
5. Ole Miss
Waiting On: Terrico White, 6-4 Soph. SG (15.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
What's In The Balance: I thought the Rebels might be a surprise team in 2009-10, and they looked that way early on, beating eventual NCAA tournament two-seed Kansas State in Puerto Rico. But Ole Miss tanked during SEC play in February and missed out on the Dance, with White not having the monster year that many expected. It looks as if '10-11 is the season the Rebs could finally break through into the tourney -- if White comes back and can be a consistent star alongside senior Chris Warren in the backcourt. Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi State (as long as it brings back late-declarers Ravern Johnson and Dee Bost) will all be competitive in the SEC, but there's no clear No. 1 team, and Ole Miss could easily be a darkhorse to win the league.
Likely Outcome: TBD after workouts. White has the size and athleticism to win a mid-to-late-20s team over in a workout setting, so there's a chance he could stay in the draft. But if his current stock -- as a fringe first-rounder or early second-rounder -- doesn't change, he'd best-served coming back to school. He's capable of playing his way into the 2011 top 20 with a huge junior year.
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