Our dreams of a preseason top-five ranking crushed, we here at Cuse Country haven’t had much to say recently. From the way the mock drafts have shaped up since the season ended, it appears Jonny is making the right move. While this year’s draft is fairly heavy on point guards, it’s weak overall compared to next year’s predicted roster. He’s risen, not into the lottery, but at least to a point where he’s extremely likely to get chosen in Round 1, and get the guaranteed money. So, we’ll miss you Jonny — but wish you nothing but good luck and success.
It makes sense for Unforced Eric to leave too. He’s about to get his degree, he’s got a daughter to take care of, he won’t have to worry about being suspended, and he’s got a fine career ahead of him — in Europe. It’s possible he’ll impress some team enough at the workouts to warrant a late second-round pick; it’s probable that he’ll get an invite to be on an NBA summer league team; it’s nearly certain that he will not make it anywhere near an NBA bench in the fall without buying a ticket (or maybe Donte will sneak him in the side door). But he can make a nice living playing ball somewhere for the next several years, and of course we will chronicle it. (Mea culpa: the Pro Updates have fallen off this site not due to a lack of interest but due to a lack of time on my part. I hope to put together a comprehensive wrapup in a few weeks, but right now the outside world has too many demands. I will remind you at least that Carmelo has won two playoff games for the first time ever, and it looks like he and Jason Hart might actually advance to the 2nd round.) It’s too bad, though — I was hoping he’d stick around just to annoy the rest of the college basketball world a little more. Especially with the “I can’t believe that guy is still playing college ball!” crowd.
For Paul Harris, the whole saga is just weird. He takes off after the season, goes underground for a couple of weeks in Niagara Falls, and while he’s gone the athletic dept. releases a statement that he’s declaring for the draft, which he says he hadn’t decided to do or not but now he may as well and see what happens, and people report that Boeheim told him to go because he is going to get stuck behind Wes Johnson, but Boeheim and Harris both deny it, but he’s testing the waters anyway. He’s not going to get drafted either. He might have more trouble than Devo finding gainful employment overseas — I don’t know if his style of play fits well into the European game. He’s too talented to not find a deal somewhere, but it might not be where he wants to go. But it’s hard to say that he’d be better off staying at SU another year. He’s clearly lost a lot of confidence in his game and himself; it’s unclear whether another season of getting the Boeheim gasface will do anything to change that. His best bet is probably to come back and prove that he’s matured both in his abilities and his mental approach, and that he’s ready to be a leader. If he would take an Onganaet-like approach, he could be a dominant defender and rebounder. But that means no taking plays off, no sulking. Just being very workmanlike. If he comes back to SU with that change in attitude, he can end up in the NBA as a Renaldo Balkman or Reggie Evans type. Limited offense, but tons of hustle, defense, and rebounding. Tenaciousness. That’s what he needs. Thing is, though, he’ll need it whether he plays another year in college or whether he goes pro. I don’t envy him his decision — it’s not a clear path and both choices have the potential to turn out great or disastrous. (Though this is all from a basketball standpoint; there’s also the potential college degree to think about.)
Anyway, we’re now looking at a potential starting five of:
which should be an amazing defensive team but will have limited outside scoring. Word is that Johnson has a good stroke for big man, and that Scoop’s jump shot has been transformed during this redshirt season (god i hope so), but I’ll believe that when I see it. It remains to be seen whether Mookie Jones can provide a jolt of preimeter shooting from the bench. He shot 32% this season in his limited minutes. And I’m not going to count on anything from the incoming freshmen — I’ve learned that lesson too many times.