TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Hamilton had an idea that one of his talented freshmen from last season might be headed to the NBA draft after only one season at Florida State. Hamilton considers himself fortunate though that it was just one.
While Malik Beasley will be at the draft in Brooklyn, New York, waiting for his name to be called, his former teammates have been participating at Hamilton’s summer basketball camp while trying to prepare for the upcoming season.
“We’re going to miss him but the good news is we have brought in people to keep this atmosphere going,” Hamilton said during a break at camp.
Beasley, a 6-foot-5 guard, started all 34 games last season and averaged 15.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. He has been invited by the NBA to watch the draft from the green room, meaning he is likely to be the first Seminoles player to go in the first round since Chris Singleton in 2011.
“For a guy to be invited to New York, to work out and shows his skills and to be a freshman shows an awful lot for the respect and potential he has,” Hamilton said.
Even with the loss of Beasley, Florida State has been ranked in the top 25 in some offseason polls, which is lofty praise considering the Seminoles were 20-14 last year and haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2011.
A big reason for that is the return of Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Both explored entering the draft this year but decided to return to school.
Bacon, a 6-7 guard, led the team in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (5.8) while Rathan-Mayes, a 6-4 junior, averaged 4.4 assists as he showed improvement playing point guard.
Rathan-Mayes struggled later in the season, but Hamilton said he has been pleased with Rathan-Mayes’ improvement since the season ended and that he has been watching film more.
While the Seminoles have another highly-touted recruiting class coming in, Hamilton thinks the incoming freshmen won’t have to bear the brunt of the offensive load early.
“Last year was more dominated by the new guys but with what we have coming back, we have more experience and leadership,” he said. “The new guys have a chance to filter in instead of them carrying us.”
Florida State should also be bolstered by the returns of Phil Cofer and Michael Ojo. Cofer played in only 11 games last season due to ankle injury and Ojo missed all of last year after having surgery for a torn meniscus.
All of the newcomers are on campus including highly-touted recruit Jonathan Isaac. The 6-10 forward, who was at IMG Academy in Bradenton this past season, was rated ninth in the nation among incoming freshmen by most recruiting services.
What has also pleased Hamilton is that all the players have been in the gym playing pickup games until late at night.
“What I see developing is chemistry and competitiveness. Plus we are going to have more depth,” Hamilton said. “We had our ups and downs last year, but that is what inexperienced teams do. Now we have a pretty good mix.”
Dan Gavitt, the NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships, said in a story published on the NCAA’s website that the new NBA Draft early entry deadline was a success.
“There is no question that some underclassmen benefitted from the process,” Gavitt said. “Both some that decided to stay in the draft and some who came back – who clearly, in my mind, would not have come back had they had to declare in April and that was the last opportunity they had.”
“The timing was good because with the start of the oversight committee in the governance process, it had kind of a natural progression,” he added. “That was one of the first things that the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee worked on. They’re the ones who sponsored the legislation through the Council and thus got the membership to vote on it.”
Prior to this season, the deadline for NCAA athletes to withdraw from the draft was little more than a week after the national title game. They could announce their intentions to enter the NBA Draft was the NBA’s deadline to declare, usually falling at the end of April. There was no testing the waters process.
This season, NCAA athletes were given until 10 days after the end of the NBA combine to withdraw from the draft, allowing them to attend the combine (or find out they were not invited to the combine), interview with front office types and get feedback directly from the NBA.
Of the 117 college players that declared, 58 opted to return to school.
Speaking of PBT, we knocked out 10 in-depth prospect profiles of the best college players in the draft. The highlights:
Ben Simmons, 6’9” forward (LSU): Simmons is 6-foot-10. He’s quick. He’s agile. He’s fluid. He can move laterally. He runs the floor like a deer. He’s got some bounce to him. He checks in somewhere around 230-240 pounds. (He didn’t get his physical profile measured at the combine.) He moves like a player six inches shorter than him and he’s built like typical power forward. When combined with ball-handling, his elite-of-the-elite vision and ability throw no-look bullet passes all over the court, he becomes him a constant highlight reel. Simmons is better than anyone that I can remember watching at the college level at grabbing a defensive rebound and leading the break, and his phenomenal ability to clean the glass (he averaged 8.8 defensive boards) is a major reason that more than a quarter of his offense came in transition, according to Synergy’s logs.
Brandon Ingram, 6’9” forward (Duke): He’s a prototype “big” for what many think the future of the NBA looks like, because in addition to those physical tools, he happens to be a terrific perimeter scorer. Ingram started the year in a bit of a slump, but in December, Duke’s starting power forward suffered a season-ending injury and Ingram was forced into the front court. He became borderline-unguardable for long stretches, as there were times where he was the biggest player on the floor for the Blue Devils. He’s too tall for wings to guard and he’s too quick and mobile for bigs.
Jamal Murray, 6’5” shooting guard (Kentucky): That jumper, man. It’s something else. When he gets into a rhythm, it’s over. He can make five or six threes in a row. He made at least four threes in 13 games this season — including four games where he made at least six threes — and he became just the second freshman in college basketball history to make 113 threes in a season. The other guy to do that? Curry, Stephen.
Jaylen Brown, 6’7” small forward (California): Brown is everything that you could possibly want out of an athlete at the small forward spot. He’s 6-foot-7. He has a 7-foot wingspan. He’s athletic in every way you would need to be athletic: He can run in transition, he’s explosive in space, he’s explosive in traffic, he’s a one-foot and two-foot leaper, he’s quick laterally, he’s strong. It’s all there, and it’s easy to look at him and see a guy who can eventually be an elite perimeter defender in the NBA.
Skal Labissiere, 6’11” center (Kentucky): I really like Skal’s potential, but I’m not sure he quite reaches his ceiling. The role I see him playing in the NBA for the next 10-12 years is as a center that thrives in a pace-and-space offense. That’s Channing Frye. He’s never averaged more than 12.7 points or 6.7 boards in a season, but he’s now been in the league for 11 years and just signed a contract with $32 million over four years because he’s 6-foot-11 and shoots 38.6 percent from three.
Buddy Hield, 6’4″ shooting guard (Oklahoma): The single-biggest thing that Hield has going for him is his work ethic. The kid is a terrific basketball player and one of the most potent perimeter shooters that we’ve seen in college basketball in recent memory, but the thing to remember with Hield is that this wasn’t always who he was. As a freshman, Hield shot a crisp 23.8 percent from beyond the arc and developed a reputation for being something of a glue-guy, a role player whose offensive production was the basketball equivalent of finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a pair of dirty jeans. He turned himself into one of the best perimeter scorers in the Big 12 as a sophomore and the conference Player of the Year as a junior, but he wasn’t on the NBA radar because, as he put it, “I wasn’t a good enough ball-handler and I couldn’t create a shot for myself.”
Marquese Chriss, 6’10” power forward (Washington): When it comes to physical tools, there really isn’t more that you can ask for in a prospect. He’s 6-foot-10, he has a wingspan that stretches over 7-feet, he’s athletic enough to get his head above the rim and he’s mobile enough that he can hold his own defending guards on the perimeter. He’s already 233 pounds and is one of the youngest players in this draft, both in terms of age (he turns 19 on July 2nd) and experience (he’s only played basketball for four years).
Kris Dunn, 6’4” point guard (Providence): What Dunn does well he does at an elite, borderline all-star level. Let’s start with the defensive end of the floor, where I think Dunn has a chance to make an all-defensive team before his career comes to an end. Physically, he has all the tools you want to see in a defensive terror. He’s 6-foot-4 with a better-than 6-foot-9 wingspan. He’s got quick hands and quicker feet. He’s strong, he’s athletic, he can move laterally, he can jump a passing lane.
Henry Ellenson, 6’11” power forward (Marquette): Ellenson’s offensive skill-set for someone his size is ridiculous. He’s a shade under 7-feet but capable of snagging a defensive rebound and going coast-to-coast. His handle and mobility in the open floor is not something you see that often from 19-year olds that are that tall.
Jakob Poeltl, 7’1” center (Utah): Poeltl was one of the most efficient low-post scorers in the country (1.092 PPP) while averaging better than ten post touches per game when you include the possessions when he passed out of double teams. He is not Tim Duncan — his skill-set is not that advanced and, while he shot 69 percent from the free throw line, his touch is not all that great — but he is quite effective. He can score over either shoulder and he’s developing some pretty effective combo and counter moves.
PODCAST: The CBT team breaks down the 2016 NBA Draft
It’s been a decade since J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison staged college basketball’s greatest Player of the Year race, which is notable today for one reason and one reason only: That was the final season that high school players were allowed to go straight to the NBA out of high school.
This is now the tenth iteration of the NBA Draft since the association incorporated the one-and-done rule, and while we can debate whether or not it has hurt college basketball, there is no equivocating the simple truth that it has changed the way the game is played.
First things first. When I say ‘the association’, I mean the NBA, because the most important thing to remember about this rule is that it exists entirely because the NBA was tired of having to guess on which high schooler would turn into Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James and which would end up being Kwame Brown, Darius Miles or Jonathan Bender. Owners were tired of spending money on kids that were never going to be worth what their contract said they had to be paid. Send them to campus for a year, watch the kids play against 22 and 23 year old men, put them in a more structured setting and figure it out from there.
They’d still end up guessing — for every Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook there are half a dozen Anthony Bennetts, Michael Beasleys and Greg Odens — but at least those guesses felt more educated; it’s hard to predict injuries, work ethic and affinity for narcotics.
The NCAA had no say in this rule.
It is not something that the NCAA wanted implemented.
And there are people that believe that the rule is bad for college basketball, that it has hurt the sport that so many grew up loving so much.
That’s partially true, particularly if you’re looking at this through the lens of an administrator or an educator. Ben Simmons cared about going to class about as much as I care about parliamentary elections in Albania. John Calipari can brag about his team’s GPA all he wants, even the most naïve member of Big Blue Nation understands he’s bringing kids to Lexington to be educated in how to be a professional basketball player.
Those guys aren’t “student”-athletes in any sense of the word, but is that really worse for the public perception of the state education in major college athletics than the fake classes that North Carolina funneled their athletes into?
Calipari was the first to figure this thing out, that embracing one-and-done culture and shoveling players off to the NBA as quickly as possible was the best way to ensure that the next crop of stars would arrive on campus the following fall. Once he won a national title with Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 1 and No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, the copycats came out in full force.
Ten years into the experiment, we’ve reached a point where Duke and Kentucky, the two biggest brands in the sport that are led by two of the most famous coaches in America, spend every spring and summer competing to land commitments from the next crop of 18-year old superstars. Kansas throws themselves into the mix for some of these kids, as has Arizona. Ohio State and Syracuse pick up one-and-dones from time-to-time, and there’s always a random Pac-12 school — UCLA, Cal, Washington — underperforming with a lottery pick on their roster.
The recruiting is year-round. The biggest programs in the country aren’t worried about filling two or three empty scholarships every year. They have to overhaul their roster every 12 months if they truly want to compete for league titles and trips to the Final Four.
And here’s the catch: The best recruiting class in the country doesn’t guarantee a banner. UConn won two national titles in the last six years built around undersized, veteran point guards. The best NBA player on Louisville’s 2013 national title was … Gorgui Dieng? Montrezl Harrell? Russ Smith? Villanova’s 2016 national title team may not have had an NBA player on the roster. Duke’s 2010 title team had a bunch of seniors leading the way. North Carolina won it in 2009 with seniors Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green and juniors Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson leading the way. A veteran Kansas team beat one-and-done Derrick Rose and Memphis in 2008. Florida won their second straight title in 2007 when their three lottery picks all returned to school, and they beat an Ohio State team with Oden, Mike Conley and Daequean Cook on it to do so.
In other words, one-and-dones haven’t hurt the chances that programs can develop kids for three or four years and turn them into winners, but it has created a situation where the best young players in the world spend a winter playing on college campuses.
All-in-all, it’s hard to argue with the idea that the age limit has been a good thing for college basketball.
And there’s one way to prove it to you: Last year’s NCAA tournament ratings.
We’ve talked about it ad nauseam, but this year’s draft class is weak because the 2015 recruiting class was as bad as any class has been in a long time. The superstar freshman played on an LSU team that was totally irrelevant by February and that didn’t even play in the NIT. Brandon Ingram, the soon-to-be No. 2 pick in this draft, was out in the Sweet 16. Skal Labissiere was a bust, and he was gone before the end of the first weekend. Jaylen Brown didn’t make it past opening night. Henry Ellenson watched the NCAA tournament on TV.
The 2016 NCAA tournament was the closest thing we’re going to see to an NCAA tournament played with the one-and-done rule eliminated.
And, as a result, the amount of people that actually cared about the NCAA tournament plummeted.
Prior to the national title game, the ratings for the 2016 tournament were down 12% from the 2015 tournament. The ratings for the national title game were down more than 30% from the prior season, when a one-and-done laden Duke won a title over a Wisconsin team that beat a one-and-done laden, record-chasing Kentucky team.
The one-and-done rule is unfair to the elite basketball prospects across our country, taking away their ability to earn a living at 18 years old and limiting their career earnings potential by a year.
That bothers me.
I don’t think it’s right.
But you can’t complain about it anymore, because getting the next generation of NBA superstars on campus for seven months is better for college basketball than losing them to the league straight out of high school.