Basketball

Don't be fooled about rush on draft

The next time some high-profile college basketball coach tells you it's all about the kids, I want to remind you that's total….I'm not allowed to use that word in the Observer.

But you get the point.

The ACC wants to move up the deadline to settle whether underclassmen will stay in the NBA draft. Under the league's proposal to the NCAA, any player would have until 10 days following the national championship game to renounce his remaining eligibility. Once he did so, there'd be no turning back.

The league says that's best for the coaches (no, really?) and also for the student-athletes. The part about the kids might be the silliest fib I've heard in a while.

Here's the deal: It makes for a stressful spring when coaches don't know who's leaving and who's returning until mid-June. I witnessed that first-hand at the Orlando pre-draft camp, as North Carolina's Roy Williams watched three rotation players dabble at turning pro.

Ultimately all three – Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green – chose to stay in college ball, rather than turn pro. Those decisions helped make the Tar Heels preseason No.1.

I get it that had those three guys stayed in the draft, Williams would have been scrambling to find replacements. But what's worse? Williams missing a few rounds of golf to reload, or some kid not getting the maximum input before jumping into the working world?

This proposal would force kids in or out before the pre-draft camp, and that's wrong. The system is flawed, but games in Orlando are a decent way to detect whether you're ready. You're playing against peers – other guys who are anywhere from the end of the first round through D-league afterthoughts – and if you can't show something in Orlando, you have no business turning pro.

I'd ask why you'd take that away from these guys, but it's obvious: College coaches are sick of waiting to see what happens.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Speaking of UNC guys, it was fun Thursday catching up with Jawad Williams, who finally made an NBA roster in Cleveland. Understandably, after so many failed auditions, Williams was skeptical he'd actually made it on cut-down day.

A Cleveland reporter congratulated him, and he said he'd wait until he heard something official. Then friends all over the country started texting and e-mailing. He still didn't believe it.

Finally, after a three-hour wait, Williams' agent called to say the Cavaliers had just contacted him to say Jawad made the team.

That doesn't mean all-clear. Cavs general manger Danny Ferry has a mandate to get his roster in championship mode. If a trade or signing means finding a roster spot, Williams is the logical sacrifice….

Coach Larry Brown has been talking about how young and inexperienced this Bobcats roster is. He's right, but it's not the youngest. According to research by Elias Sports Bureau, the average age of Charlotte's players is just over 25. Three other NBA rosters – Golden State, Portland and Memphis – are younger at just over 24 years.

Most interesting aspect of Elias' research might be New Jersey, now the eighth-youngest roster at about 25.3 years. That demonstrates how dramatically the Nets remade themselves by dealing Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson in what looks like an attempt to hoard cap room for an eventual run at free agent-to-be LeBron James.

Writers in other NBA cities provided some of this material.
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