NBA Draft Roundup, April 15

NBA Draft Roundup, April 15
Apr 15, 2009, 01:01 am
Draft Buzz

•John Wall Eligible for the 2009 draft?

A lot of people took note of a little nugget dropped by Chad Ford in his chat on today. It reads as follow:

…”There is some buzz that Wall believes he might be eligible for THIS year's draft. I've been doing some digging and will be filing a story later today. The short rub is this: Wall is a 5th year senior and depending on how you read the collective bargaining agreement, 5th year seniors are eligible for the draft as long as the turn 19 in the calander year (Wall does). The league is taking a wait and see approach. If he declares, they'll research and make a ruling. If he does declare and is ruled eligible (two big ifs) he's a Top 5 pick in this draft. Maybe Top 3.

This would be an incredibly important development, considering that Wall is likely the top NBA prospect in this high school class (although Derrick Favors also has a case), and he would immediately move into the top 5 of this draft if he were indeed deemed eligible.

To help us determine that, we went to the exact ruling in the CBA:

The player (A) is or will be at least 19 years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft is held, and (B) with respect to a player who is not an international player (defined below), at least one (1) NBA Season has elapsed since the player’s graduation from high school (or, if the player did not graduate from high school, since the graduation of the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school);

One important fact that needs to be resolved is: did John Wall graduate from high school? We made a quick call to our friend Dave Telep, widely considered the #1 expert in everything relating to high school basketball, who happens to based out of the same part of the country that John Wall is in Raleigh, North Carolina. Telep says that Wall “has not graduated from high school yet” due to the fact that he was “reclassified after transferring from Garner High School.” In Telep’s view, Wall “would not be eligible for this year’s draft, since his one year clock has not yet started, based on my interpretation of the rules at least.”

Our understanding is that Wall spent three years at Garner and then the last two at Word of God Christian Academy (not 4+1 as indicated by Ford), which means that he is not a traditional 5th year prep school player, who graduates from high school after four years and then transfers for a year at a University-Preparatory-type secondary school. Word of God Christian Academy is a regular K-12 school, not a prep school, and Wall has yet to receive his high school diploma, which he likely will.

There is an argument to be made that the “if the player did not graduate from high school” sentence refers to a player who has not YET graduated from high school, rather than a player who will NOT ever graduate, since Wall’s original high school class (2008) is in fact one year NBA season removed. But because Wall appears to be on course to graduate—unless he would decide to drop out of school in the next few days (something which could possibly his case)-- it appears unlikely (to us at least) that this rule would be interpreted that way, although an argument can certainly be made otherwise in court.

This is all moot, since it doesn’t appear that Wall has any interest in being a part of this draft class anyway, as Ford seemed to indicate by saying “Wall believes he might be eligible for THIS year's draft”

“There is absolutely no truth to that whatsoever,” Wall’s AAU coach Brian Clifton told us. “No merit at all. John hasn’t talked about it, his mother hasn’t talked about it, and I haven’t talked about it. Outside of the three of us, no one is in any position to speculate about that.”

When asked whether Wall may reconsider if he were indeed deemed eligible for this year’s draft, Clifton didn’t leave any doubt:

“That’s not a question, not a consideration at all. He is going to school, and that has been the plan all along.”

It’s interesting to see Clifton dismiss the NBA so quickly, since there is a decent chance Wall would be a top-3 pick, and he may even go #2 depending on who is drafting. Is he just being coy so as not to scare off any of the college coaches who are recruiting him? Billy Donovan and Florida became the 9th team on Wall’s list according to a recent report. People we’ve spoken to who are close to the situation think that its either NBA teams or an agent floating Wall’s name around as a means to lure him into the draft. He’ll be in New York City this week for the Jordan Brand Classic, so we’ll have a chance to discuss this matter further with him.

•Donatas Motiejunas leaning toward entering the draft?

Chad Ford of reports that “the buzz” is that Donatas Motiejunas will enter his name in the draft.

The buzz after the game was that Motiejunas was leaning toward declaring for the 2009 draft. Although he needs to get stronger and keep working on his jumper, he is a legit prospect. One NBA GM I spoke with said he thought Motiejunas would be a top-12 pick in this year's draft. Two other international scouts who have seen much more of him think his range is 15 to 25. All of them felt that with another year in Lithuania under his belt, he would be a surefire lottery pick in 2010.

DraftExpress’ Mike Schmidt was actually at the Hoop Summit in Portland, and had a chance to talk with Motiejunas on multiple occasions over the course of the week. Motiejunas initially stated that that’s not really the case. “I think I would benefit from another year in Europe,” Motiejunas told Schmidt. “I’m not really thinking about the NBA draft right now.”

After the Hoop Summit game, Motiejunas changed his tune slightly: ““My dad and my agent are going to evaluate my options and we will consider entering based on what they find.”

To clear this matter up, we reached out directly to Motiejunas’ agent, Herb Rudoy of Interperformances, to see what his thoughts were.

“We don’t know right now what we’re going to do with Donatas,” Rudoy said immediately as he picked up the phone, even before we had time to ask the question. “It’s going to come down to the last minute to make a decision. We don’t want to rush anything.”

When told what Motiejunas had originally said about not thinking about the NBA, Rudoy did not dispute that: “It’s probably correct that he won’t enter. That’s something that a lot of NBA teams want to know right now. We’re going to be very careful about how we go about this decision, since this is something that is going to affect his career in a major way. We’ve learned from the case of Marc Gasol and Tiago Splitter how beneficial it is for young European players to gain experience”

Rudoy is in a unique position, having represented fellow Lithuanian big man Martynas Andriuskevicius, who many feel entered the NBA draft too early at the tender age of 19. He ended up being picked in the second round, despite garnering considerable hype from certain media outlets, and was out of the NBA after two seasons in which he only played 9 total minutes. Andriuskevicius is just now starting to get his career back on track at age 23, and is currently averaging a respectable 9 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes on the top-ranked team in the Spanish second division, Alicante.

Motiejunas appears to be in an excellent position, as he is under no contract restrictions for next season, and is free to move to any team in Europe. “We have complete flexibility” Rudoy told us. “There are a lot of possibilities. We’re going to make sure we make the best possible decision for Dontas’ career. No matter what happens, he’s going to be in great shape.”

•Gonzaga sophomore Austin Daye will announce shortly that he’s testing the waters without an agent. Daye is an interesting case, as teams we talked to seem to have widely varying opinions about him. One scout we talked to thinks he’s a “likely late lottery pick”, while an NBA Assistant General Manager we asked thinks he will be drafted “somewhere from 15 to 25.” Still another executive we spoke to thinks he “will probably fall into the second round.” You won’t find many players with a wider draft range. We currently have him slated as a late first rounder.

•UConn junior Stanley Robinson will be returning to school, according to sources close to the situation. Robinson is reportedly having his best semester ever as a student thus far, and is already in the gym working out getting ready for next season. Robinson has been compared by some teams we’ve spoken with to “a taller Gerald Wallace,” and with a strong senior season underneath his belt, showing more consistency on and off the court than he has up until now, we believe he could truly explode and emerge as a lottery pick. Kemba Walker has also confirmed that he’ll return for his sophomore season.

•Former UConn player Nate Miles, who has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, will reportedly enter his name in the NBA draft, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told DraftExpress. Miles is reportedly in the process of hiring an agent, as his chances of being deemed eligible for college by the NCAA appear to be slim to none. He just got back from Tourcoing, France, where he competed in an odd camp called the “basket-ball world tournament,” playing for the USA Elite Under-22 National Team,” alongside players such as Alabama transfer Rico Pickett, top-JUCO recruit (and former Memphis commit) Will Coleman, and UConn commit Jamaal Trice.

•Vladimir Dasic will enter the draft, according to European agency BeoBasket. According to BeoBasket, Dasic will come to the US in May will to work out for NBA teams, and then will again participate in the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso from June 6th-8th. He will then return to the US for another round of NBA private workouts, before deciding whether or not to remove his name from the early-entry list on the deadline, June 15th.

Agent Hirings

-Arizona State junior James Harden will sign with Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports Agency
-Florida State junior Toney Douglas will sign with David Falk
-Marquette senior Jerel McNeal has signed with Doug Neustadt of The Neustadt Group
-Temple senior Dionte Christmas has signed with Andre Buck of CAA
-Pitt senior Sam Young, Marquette senior Wes Matthews and N.C. State junior Brandon Costner have signed with Octagon


•Patrick Beverley hopes final destination of hoops trip ends in NBA

Sean Deveney of the Sporting News pens a very interesting account about Patrick Beverley’s trek from his hometown of Chicago to the University of Arkansas to Dnipropetrovsk, where he’s playing in the Ukrainian second division.

"I came here and was able to play consistent minutes at the point guard spot, and that will be my position in the NBA," Beverley said. "Me being a scorer in college basketball, that will make me a better all-around player. Playing more minutes and more games has forced me to perform well over a longer period of time, which helps with my consistency."

Soon, Beverley's season in the Ukraine will wrap up, and he will return to Chicago to begin working out in preparation for the draft. He has a big challenge -- he must hope that his development in Europe has not gone unnoticed, and when he's given the chance in workouts, he must show he is NBA-ready. But that will come later.

"I really can't concern myself with staying on scouts' radar," he said. "I just focus on getting better and playing good basketball, and everything will fall in place. I've been working a lot on playing the point guard position and getting better at running a team. That's my focus."

Beverley will reportedly be playing at the Reebok EuroCamp in Treviso, which should give NBA teams (and us) a great opportunity to evaluate his progress.

•Hasheem Thabeet to enter NBA Draft

Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated breaks the story about Thabeet surprising no one by entering the draft.

"I sat down with my friends and family, and with my coaches, and have decided I want to give up my last year at UConn so I can put my name in the draft," Thabeet told "I know that my family and my coaches are always looking out for the best for me, and I believe what they've all told me -- that this is the right time to turn pro."

Thabeet is expected to officially sign with an agent in the next few days.

•OU's Willie Warren to weigh draft options this weekend

As we’ve discussed over the past few days, Willie Warren has not yet made a final decision on whether or not he will return to Oklahoma for his sophomore season, despite early declarations to the contrary. He’s getting a lot of pressure in particular from his coaching staff, for obvious reasons. Gurri Emig of the Tulsa World reports:

“Every time I’ve talked to him, and I talk to him pretty often, he’s expressed that he wants to come back,” Capel said. “But it’s just a situation where if it’s something that’s too good to pass up, you have to look at that. But he says he’s going to come back. He’s doing well in his classes as far as his grades are concerned. We started individuals (workouts), and he was there. He was doing those, doing a good job there. He’s talked to me about a jersey number next year and doing different things assisting us. And so I think he’s going to be back.”

• Adios Dar Tucker

Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald:

In a decision that seemed preordained almost from the moment he committed to DePaul, sophomore guard Dar Tucker announced Tuesday that he'll enter the 2009 NBA draft.

He'll also sign with an agent, presumably Chris Grier (who's also Wilson Chandler's agent), which will prohibit a return for the final two years of his eligibility.

Here's Tucker's statement from DePaul's press release:

“After careful consideration, I have decided to enter my name in the 2009 NBA Draft,” said Tucker. “This decision did not come easy for me because of my feelings for DePaul University. Coach Wainwright, my family and I have talked about my future and together we all decided this was the best decision for me at this time based upon personal circumstances.”

DePaul’s athletic department also indicates that Tucker “will not return to the men’s basketball program for the 2009-10 season and has indicated that he will hire an agent.”

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