"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

James' Quandary

Here we are in April of 2007, Spring is hitting everywhere but Cleveland....the Masters has come and gone...the NFL draft is 3 weeks away...Peter Cottontail has dispersed his candy and eggs...and on a near daily basis a premier college basketball player either throws his name into the NBA draft ring or tells his coach he'll give it another college try at good old State U.

Then there are the players that are somewhere between "premier" and very good, but not quite sure fire locks to be drafted. Enter Dominic James of Marquette, the Sophomore point guard from Richmond, Indiana that has helped lead Tom Crean's club to back-to-back NCAA tournament berths.

James is a talent, no question. He is a wonderful athlete that can glide through the air like few others, has an extra gear to get to the hoop, has that ability to find his open teammates and has those special qualities great players need...most notably the desire to win and the desire to get better. He is determined. In fact it is his determination that has propelled him to the player he is today because he doesn't have the NBA body, not even close. He's about 5'10"...not exactly the mold of a NBA PG these days. He is not a great shooter but he is a solid scorer, a difference with distinction.

So here we have this bright young 20 year old with two years of eligibility caught in somewhat of a quandary as it relates to the 2007 basketballsphere. Should I stay or should I go? The Clash never seemed to answer the question in the song, but now DJ has his own opportunity to do so. Some reports on CBS Sportline as well as DraftExpress are claiming that James will test the NBA Draft waters without hiring an agent. Not a big surprise, really. By not signing with an agent, James can bail out and return to Marquette for another season...or two. If he were to sign with an agent, then it's adios time as the eligibility is essentially consumed once that relationship is established.

Where this becomes a bit different than the Greg Oden's, Kevin Durrant's and other players in 2007 is predictability. Oden is a top 2 pick. Durrant is a top 2 pick. James....well...maybe top 30...maybe top 45....maybe not at all. But here's the rub, next year could even be a more difficult spot for him because of the quality of the 2008 draft. It is widely believed by the pundits that the 2007 draft will be remarkably thin at point guard, thus providing a window of opportunity for someone like James to be selected even if he probably isn't NBA ready until 2008 or even 2009. Timing is everything.

This ultimately may come down to James leaving in 2007 or actually waiting two years until he is a senior to leave in 2009. Not the worst choice, after all student athletes did this for years until the "leave early" generation started. I know 99.99% of MU fans would be thrilled by that situation.

James has until the latter part of April to decide what he will do with his NBA aspirations. In all likelihood it appears he will dip his toes in the draft waters, attend the camps at his own expense and see how things shake out. If he blows up and has a terrific showing, he might play himself into the 3rd or even 2nd point guard drafted....somewhere in the late first round. If he plays inconsistently as was his sophomore season of ups and downs, he is probably a mid 2nd round pick to potentially slipping all the way out. The difference between 1st round and 2nd round picks is significant. First round picks are guaranteed while second round picks are not, meaning you have to make the team to get that check.

In the next few weeks Crean and DJ will continue to talk and the various phone calls will be made to persons of NBA scouting pedigree to gather the best information possible for DJ to make a decision. Whatever he decides, we wish him well. He's had a very nice first two years and had to shoulder a lot for a young man his age...a team essentially devoid of senior leadership. It would be great to see him flying high for MU again next season for a team that would return 99% of their scoring and 97% of their rebounding.

For now, we wait.....


Anonymous said...

if he stays and works hard this summer, i think he could play himself into the "premier" category and be a safe bet to get drafted next year...last summer he needed to work on getting others involved and he did that this year...now he needs to polish his shot and decision making ability...i think he can do that too, but i also think he'll enter this year.

TB said...

"if he stays and works hard this summer, i think he could play himself into the "premier" category and be a safe bet to get drafted next year"

Maybe ... but he'd be slotted below Gordon, Rose and Mayo right outta the gate. Maybe Conley too if he sticks around for another season.

This year, he could be the 2nd PG taken.

If DJ goes next year -- there's no way he'd be able to stake that claim.

Anonymous said...

Hello MU fans, this is Dominic.

I just want to have Cracked Sidewalks be the first place to announce my intentions: I'll be putting my name in the 2007 NBA draft. I want to explore all of my opportunities and thanks to Coach, I'm going to do that by not getting an agent.

So there you go everybody. You heard it hear first on Cracked Sidewalks.

Wish me luck and GO MU!


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