Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This is what I have on draft

It has always intrigued me, as a college basketball enthusiast, how interested we can become in players' draft statuses once the NCAA champion is crowned. Granted, part of the hysteria has to do with whether or not a team will return its stars, or if they will gallivant off to the NBA leaving their respective coaches delirious and their former teams depleted.

Perhaps the fever has to do with fans and their incessant need for a ranking system. Much like the relatively meaningless AP and coaches polls during the regular season, we take these strangers' opinions as the gospel truth. Much of the same holds true with the NBA draft with but one difference. After the NBA draft is over, no one cares.

Then again, there's always next year, as they say. The departure of the championship class of 2005 is still fresh in the minds of Tar Heel fans. And though the NCAA championship is every team's ultimate goal, there is only so long that they can actually enjoy it before the realization sets in that this ain't last year anymore.

In '05, North Carolina had one of the best classes of all time. Maybe the best - I'm not sure how many teams have sent four lottery picks to the NBA. There to follow in their footsteps was a class that consisted of Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green. Not bad. The thing that Tar Heel fans have to remember is that hindsight is 20/20. It's easy, from their prospective, to compare the incoming 2009 class to that one. But in reality, it's not that easy. Think about that class for what it was then, not what it turned out to be. Injuries to Frasor and Ginyard dampen the hype that surrounded them as freshmen. Yes, John Henson will be good. As good as Hansbrough? We'll likely never know, because it is doubtful that he'll be here long enough for use to figure that out.

Looking back, that 2005 class sure doesn't look as sexy as this one does. But it had all the parts. A capable point guard, a great defender, and inside presence and a versatile scorer. More importantly, it had parts that would stay in place for awhile. It isn't often that a coach hits the nail on the head. You don't just plug in a class of basketball players and proceed to march through March. You see Frasor's weaknesses and sign a Ty Lawson. You see that Ginyard isn't going to be the same scorer he was in high school and you sign a Wayne Ellington. And if you're good enough, you see that Duke is trying to sign a monster in the paint, so you intervene and sign a Brandan Wright.

At the moment, it seems that the Tar Heel faithful are more concerned with John Wall than they a hypochondriac Texan is with the swine flu. Yet, I wonder personally how concerned even Roy Williams is with him. The kid seems to be taking every school interested on a carnival ride. And if UNC does land him, then losing three more players to the NBA in 2010 (Ed Davis, Henson and Wall) is a very real possibility. Is Wall the key to hitting that nail on the head?

Recruiting is a different game these days. It's not necessarily about raking in the big guns. Kevin Durant + Greg Oden + O.J. Mayo + Blake Griffin = Lots of money, zero championships. That brings me back to the draft. It's funny how recruiting is just the beginning of the circle. Are we college basketball fans, or NBA fans? Most of us really don't even know. Tyler Hansbrough left the NCAA with a ring, and a reputation as one of the best players in the history of college basketball. And detractors argue that he won't make it in the NBA. But, of course, after the draft no one will care anyway. So why does it matter?

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