Friday, April 3, 2009

NBA offers tempting


In all the discussion about whether Kansas University basketball stars Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins will bypass pro status and return for KU’s 2009-10 season, a human side of the equation too often is swept under the rug.

There is wishful agreement among Jayhawk fans that both young men would benefit greatly from another year of college seasoning. Of course, a lot of zealots realize how good KU with its holdovers and newcomers could be next season with those ’08-09 mainstays. They’re trying to hope the guys into returning.

With Collins, some solid sources say he’s not good enough with the ball to be a solid NBA point guard and too short and inconsistent to make the grade as a shooting guard. How easily would his 5-11 height allow 6-4-type pro defenders to wear him out in post-ups?

Another angle, however, is that Collins has a child in the Chicago area, and given a chance to make a six-figure salary he just might go that route to benefit his family and youngster. Sherron is not a top-10 draft prospect. But if he could be assured of going in the second round as Mario Chalmers did last season, could he end up making the $700,000 wage Chalmers is making his first season?

Sure, Collins could use another year at the Bill Self Academy, but would that appeal to him if he could earn at least $500,000?

Touchy as the subject might be, Aldrich’s dad has been out of a job, and the son might decide to boost the family income. There’s no question Aldrich is NBA material even if he could use more Danny Manning tutelage at KU. But suppose he learned he could be a top-10 draftee this spring. Let’s consider some figures.

The 2009-10 NBA rookie scale calls for the No. 1 draft choice to get a guaranteed contract of $4,152,900 for the first year, $4,464,400 for the second and a third-year option of $4,775,900. The No. 10 draft pick would range from $1,807,100 the first year, $1,942,600 the second and $2,078,100. The No. 30 draft combo is $824,200, $886,000 and $947,800. Anything on the 30-and-better chart might appeal to Aldrich.

It’s tough to believe Aldrich, green as he might seem, wouldn’t be a 30th-or-better selection.

As for the glitzy Lance Stephenson and Xavier Henry, who admit they’re thinking one-year-and-out as collegians, maybe Self and Co. can accept that kind of deal (they originally took Brandon Rush that way, then got three years instead of one). I’m so old-fashioned I’d lean to an Aldrich or even Julian Wright, who at least gave two productive years to the cause. Let the one-shot egos fish or cut bait.

Probably KU’s most notable year-and-gone player was Pekka Markannen in 1990, after which he went home to a pro career in Finland. Darrin Hancock (1993) was a juco who left for Indiana State. In the 1970s, some thought Salina’s Nino Samuel was so good he might enter the NBA right out of high school. At 6-6, 225 but no shooting touch at all, Nino lettered in 1973 at KU, transferred to Salina’s Marymount and now at age 55 is a personal trainer in Georgia.

Selfishly, we KU loyalists want Collins and Aldrich back for another season. Reality-wise, it’s understandable if they depart because of needed $500,000-and-up incomes.


mlubyRN 10 years, 9 months ago

Off the topic, I just read this and thought I would pass it on.
Way to go DJ!

CLEVELAND: Look at the box score for a Cavaliers game in the past couple of weeks, and there's something that might come as a surprise.

Rookies J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson have essentially swapped spots when it comes to who gets minutes coming off the bench.

Hickson, a 6-foot-9 first-round draft choice out of North Carolina State, had been receiving the majority of the precious reserve minutes at his position. Lately, it's been Jackson getting a chance to play.

''He's really played hard and shown some bright spots the last few games he's gotten in, and I like the direction he's heading,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. ''He's played a lot of good basketball at a high level. I do like the minutes he's given us of late.''

Jackson has made the most of the approximately 12 minutes averaged in the past three games, averaging 4.6 points and four rebounds. Unlike earlier in the season, Jackson appears comfortable on the court.

Brown said all year there was one area where the rookie forward, who won a national championship last year at the University of Kansas, enjoyed an advantage over Hickson — experience.

Jackson remained at Kansas for his entire career, giving him a mental advantage, Brown said.

That maturity showed recently when Jackson, sensing that his game was getting rusty on the bench, requested to be reassigned to the Erie Bayhawks, the Cavs' NBA D-League affiliate. He said his second experience in Erie helped him.

''It gives me a chance to see the weaknesses in my game,'' he said.

Teammate Mo Williams appreciates the physical play Jackson brings to the Cavs with a body that says NFL linebacker as much as NBA forward. At no time was that more evident than in Sunday's game against the New Jersey Nets. Jackson set a pick on the Nets' Jarvis Hayes that left Hayes stunned.

Jackson is also adept at clogging up the middle on defense.

''He's just solid, solid. He gives hard fouls. He's going to rebound,'' Williams said. ''He's going to do all the things a coach wants him to do. Even his mistakes you can handle because he's doing it at 110 percent.''

Jackson, after almost an entire season, is developing into a nice role player, Brown said.

''He's definitely shown that he deserves minutes out on the floor,'' Brown said.

mlubyRN 10 years, 9 months ago

On the topic, I really do think Collins is good enough to be an NBA point guard. Yeah he is shorter than most at 5'11" but he makes up for that with his strength. Im betting the guy can squat and bench atleast a few times his own weight. Not to mention if he was in the NBA at the 1 spot, he would have a much better support crew out there with him, he wouldnt be forced to make plays on his own, drive into 3-4 man traffic and try to lay it up over guys a foot taller than him, which he has had to do many times this year. Do I want him and Cole to go? Nope, but if they do, I wish them both the best of luck.

arcticjhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

For the betterment of my own desires, I hope Cole and Sherron stay. I think that following the hawks over three years to a national championship with Russell, Mario, Brandon, Darrell, Sasha, Darnell etc... was a much more satisfying feeling than if Cole and Sherron left and we had to achieve another championship with one and dones. I know it sounds pretty foolish to try and put restrictions on a national championship but it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as watching a team gel over a longer period of time. That's just the way I feel.

mlubyRN 10 years, 9 months ago

Completely spot on Arcticjhawk. I have to say that those 6 guys that left last year have to be some of my favorite NBA players.

63Jayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Bill, Coach Self has implied strongly that he believes Cole will be a first round pick if he goes to the NBA this year, but that he will be a top five pick if he waits another year and continues to improve the way he has improved this year. If Coach Self is correct, by your numbers, if Cole stays, he will make more money in the first year of that three year contract as a top five pick than he would make as a number 30 or so pick this year. It is not at all clear what is actually best for Cole and his family. Without considering what is best for KU and KU's fans, it appears that the best choice for Cole and his family would be for Cole to stay another year if they can afford to do so.

Both Cole and Sherron should make the decision which is best for them and their families. I'm confident that Coach Self will help both of them gain the information they need to make the right decision, and I wish them both the best regardless of the decision they make.

WilburNether 10 years, 9 months ago

"No shooting touch at all" is also a perfect description of Darrin Hancock. Once Big 8 teams finally figured out that he could not shoot, it was painful to watch him get the ball on the wing, and see his man sagging 10-12 feet off him because he was such a horrible shooter. If he could not dunk in transition, it was like playing 4 on 5 in the half-court offense. Kenny Gregory is another who fits this description.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

How many "one & dones" have there been? There were a lot of HS players that went straight to the NBA as gm's sought to find the next Kobe/LeBron/..., and found (more ?) Telfaires instead. It seems that the # of 1&done is a lot less, tho there are plenty of early entries, which has perpetuated the aura of "straight to the NBA". Maybe I'll have to post the question to UFR at the star so that there is some actual research and not just picking bits of data about Darrin Hancock out of the cobwebs.

mlubyRN - Thanks for the blip about DJ. He and Mario are doing plenty to advance KU and stay a few years in school to develop. Hopefully, the rest of the NBA can pick up on it, and move past some of the hype silliness.

It is also part of the reason why I think Sherron (& Cole) should return to KU (after going to the pre-draft dealy-bobs. Sherron is not going to make huge advances in developing his game in the next year. There may be some changes in perception as he plays with a stronger supporting cast, but his game is developed.

His game is developed enough for the NBA - given the appropriate team. There are some Steve Nash teams that rely on the 1 to lead the team, but there are also teams like the Celtics, Heat, Jordan-Bulls, etc. that are led by the 2, 3, or 4. Sherron is strong with the ball when he isn't forced by a receding supporting cast to be the O. (What were his TO's last year vs. this year?) He has a solid 3 (every outside shooter can slump at times) and is a solid tho far from spectacular defender. (I realize the comments about Woodside and only Tyrone being able to slow him down, but Sherron has done that to others this year as well.)

In Sherron's case, I think the NBA's perception of him will improve with a better supporting cast, and he will have or be that much closer to a degree which can only help even in these crazy times.

Cole on the other hand just has the op to become next year's Blake.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

If Lance can't handle the thought of teaming with X, he definitely isn't ready to win in the NBA. Someone may say, well they play the "same position", but positions are so much more variable/dynamic in today's game that the tradition/static 1-2-3-4-5. A good coach is able to exploit the talent of his best players, regardless of how someone wants to label them.

lv_jhwk 10 years, 9 months ago

I actually believe the financial numbers that Bill gives might provide another reason for Cole to stay. To illustrate my thinking, suppose that Cole is told he could be chosen 10th this year but is definitely top-5 next year (logical either way given current opinions):

If drafted this year, as Bill points out, Cole would net $5,827,800 over the course of his three year contract as the tenth selection. (Yes, I know only the first two are guaranteed, but how often is the option not picked up on such a high pick?)

By waiting until 2010, though, Cole would make $5,835,300 IN JUST THE FIRST TWO YEARS of his contract as the fifth selection. Yes, you read that right...three years from now, Cole would have essentially banked the same amount of money either way! And his third year salary would still be higher than a fourth-year option as the lower pick a year earlier.

So if the finances come into play in his decision, it could come down to whether or not Cole feels he needs the money immediately or not for his parents.

Robert Lofthouse 10 years, 9 months ago

Cole came to KU with an attitude to win a NC. I remember him being quoted as stating that when he committed to KU. He participated in that journey chiefly by riding on the coattails of last year's talent, while he learned the ropes and helped out.

This year, he (along with Sherron) missed the brass ring while carrying the rest of the team on their backs.

If his dream was to WIN a NC, then I don't think in his (competitor's) mind, he's accomplished that yet in the way he would want to do it (two rings in three years?). He might come back for a shot at POY, a NC, and a top-5 pick, along with 3 thrilling years at KU then go into the NBA and become an instant millionaire with only one year left on his journey to get a degree.

The rest of the supporting cast will be farther along at the beginning of next season than Cole and Sherron were this year, and look how they matured!

Does he need the money? Wait a year; money won't be an issue in his life; he'll have the glory days of college basketball and three runs to the Final Four to take with him as long as he can remember. Can't get that in the NBA where it's all about the money!

cklarock 10 years, 9 months ago

@drgnslayr: Well said. I couldn't agree more.

Of course, I still maintain that I'd have bolted from my first year as an art student at KU for anything over 30k/year, but luckily for me, I never got an offer. :)

College -- the best nine years of my life. ;)

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you about the one and doners.. Taylor will be a much better guard next year and with incoming Elijah Johnson, I haven't really understood the hard-press to land one of these players. I'd rather see Daniel Orton (who's already stated he doesn't want to stay at Kentucky) come to Kansas. I think Cole Aldrich will probably leave. Most mock drafts have him listed as a late lottery pick. Orton would be perfect to fill that huge hole in the middle.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm telling you, Collins is Jameer Nelson 2.0. he doesn't get the hype Nelson received but he is the same type of player. I think he could have a similiar career. Aldrich is, as Jason Whitlock likes to point out, a Kevin McHale type of player. Aldrich isn't as crafty with his back to the basket and probably not as versatile as McHale, however he is stronger and more of a high flyer. If Aldrich stays another year, he will be a moster in the NBA.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 9 months ago

Sherron would be great in the NBA, but I would agree that another year playing in the Big 12 and working on his ball-handling skills would help him tremendously.

Cole is ready to go, the only thing that is going to stop him is the quest for another title. We'd be a front-runner if we had him back.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago


Your post needs to be hard copied and put in every locker in the KU locker room.

Frankly, its one of the finest pieces of writing about sports I have ever read.

I have for years argued that players really ought to take the money early, even though a side of me had felt that staying in college had great benefits, also.

But I was never able to articulate a logic fully persuasive to me for staying rather than jumping.

Your analysis brings the huge benefits of college starkly into focus.

Thank you.

Jacobpaul81 10 years, 9 months ago

If Sherron signs with an NBA team, his defensive inabuilty will get him benched. You can't play the 1 and not play good defense. That's the most important defensive spot on the team. In Sherron's case, I just don't see it happening. I think Sherron is a short Dee Brown, Some success in college, but his defense and inabuilty to play team ball (cause lets face it, team ball isn't Sherron's game), combined with his height (generous 5'11" means he's 5'9" or even shorter!), he's not going to see court time. I think based on his D-league performance this season, RR has a better shot at making an NBA team and seeing minutes than Sherron. I'm sure I'll take flak for saying that, but that's how I see it.

Cole should stay one more if at all possible. Suton tore his --- up in the Michigan State game. Cole is not ready. He needs to get tougher and bigger, and he needs to get his endurance up. He can't walk up the court and expect to succeed in the NBA.

On the positive side: RR is tearing it up with Reno! He's looking like he's got a good shot to be called up in the future. Brandon has stepped in to a starting role and is scoring over 20 points a game in over 30 minutes court time! Hell yea! And Darnell has taken over as a 12-15 minute a game role player for cleveland. Way to go!

WRDK24 10 years, 9 months ago


Thanks for the update on RR, I've been wondering what he's been up to but have been to lazy to look it up. I've spent too much time obssesing over the X/Born Ready/Greaseball saga. I checked it out and here are his stats over the season but more impressively over the last three games. Keep up the hard work RR and you'll be with the rest of the 08 NC boys.

justanotherfan 10 years, 9 months ago

Cole should almost definitely jump. Right now, he is likely a lottery pick. If he stays next year and NBA GM's start dissecting his game and figure out that he is not a dominant low post scorer, he may fall from potential top 10 to somewhere in the 20s. Look at what happened to Roy Hibbert. He was projected as a top 10 pick after his junior year. He went back to Georgetown, and saw his numbers basically stay the same. That entire year, he was picked apart by scouts who found flaws. He fell to 17.

Cole is as hot right now as he is probably going to be. He's not a Tim Duncan-Patrick Ewing-Hakeem Olajuwon type scorer in the post. He's a good, maybe great post defender, rebounder and shot blocker. The assumption that he will definitely move up in the draft if he stays is flawed. He may drop. He could get hurt. Other players may emerge.

For Sherron, it's much more complex. I don't think he will get posted up and dominated as much because he is so strong. 75% of post defense is leg and core strength. I think he will be fine in the post. Another thing to consider is the fact that most NBA scouts view Ty Lawson as a lottery pick. I know this is a KU site with KU fans, but I've talked to other non-biased college fans and they don't see much difference between Lawson and Collins, other than the style that they played in. Both are sub six foot, strong point guards with great open court speed and a steady outside shot. DJ Augustin was a lottery pick last year. How much different is he from Sherron?

I think once Sherron gets to the pre-draft camps and the NBA people see his speed and strength up close, he goes from being a shaky second round pick to a late first rounder. Remember, Sherron played a full season at a pretty high level this year, answering the doubts about his ability to take the lumps of a full season. He has shown that he can come off the bench, which is important because that will likely be his role on his first team if he is drafted late in the first round by one of the stronger teams (think Magic, Cavs, Lakers, Celtics, Hornets, Jazz).

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