Baylor forward Perry Jones III and Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger decided last year to return to school despite being projected as lottery selections.
One year and a couple medical red flags later, and it’s likely that they cost themselves some serious money by making that decision.
Neither was invited to sit in the Green Room, and that began the murmurs with many wondering where Jones III and Sullinger would land.
But while both Jones III and Sullinger may be a little lighter in the wallet when considering the rookie wage scale after Thursday’s draft, landing in the positions that they did could prove far more beneficial to their careers down the line.
Sullinger was taken by the Celtics with the 21st pick while Jones, who sat in the stands at the Prudential Center, was selected 28th overall by Western Conference champion Oklahoma City.
“What’s better than learning from one of the best teams? They were in the Finals,” said Jones III in his post-draft press conference. “They have great players, great coach. This is just an opportunity for me to grow.”
Both returned to campus to play on teams that enjoyed a great deal of success last season, with Baylor reaching the Elite 8 and Ohio State getting to the Final Four.
But those extra games that NBA scouts and general managers had to evaluate them resulted in both sliding down draft boards, and the pre-draft medical issues didn’t help either.
The question for players such as Jones III and Sullinger is one that’s simple to state yet difficult to answer: do you take the money that comes with being a lock for the lottery or take the chance of hanging around for another season?
That lottery money usually comes with the added responsibility of being the face of a franchise, and in many cases the franchise hasn’t been successful and likely won’t be for a couple years.
But while Jones III and Sullinger ended up benefiting by landing with stable, successful franchises, how often does that happen?
It’s certainly a crap shoot and while these two ended up winning on draft night in that regard, it’s likely best to strike while the iron’s hot.