Ron Morris on Devan Downey's NBA Prospects. Morris has a pretty good take on this issue, which you'll be hearing more about in the coming weeks. As Morris says, Downey's draft prospects are currently pretty bleak, so jumping to the NBA at this point would be a mistake. Those of you that find this hard to believe can check out the numerous mock draft sites on the web, all of which have Downey going late-second round or not at all. The problem for Devan, of course, is his size; very few players shorter than 6'2 or 6'3 make it in the NBA, as the assumption about little guys is that there's always a taller one somewhere that can do the same things offensively and won't be a defensive liability against taller players. This isn't to say that Downey can't make it in the league. However, as a 5'9 guy that could use some work on his shooting and ability to play without the ball in his hand, Downey has some things to work on before he'll be ready to make the jump. Downey's size will always make him a defensive liability in the NBA, so he really needs to perfect his offensive game if he wants a team to take a chance on him. Coming back for his senior year would give him a chance to do that, as well as to earn his degree. Moreover, he'll likely get a lot of exposure if he returns, as he and USC will no longer be flying under the radar like they were this year.
Morris points out that another option for Downey is to play overseas, which would allow him to earn money while honing his skills for an eventual shot at the NBA. As Downey has a family to support, this may be an option he'll explore. I of course hope he comes back for another year, but I wouldn't blame him if he chose to pursue a European career. If he needs the money, he needs the money. He'll have to weigh his financial needs against the opportunity to have a memorable senior season and to solidify his status as one of USC's all-time greats. My impression is that Downey loves South Carolina and would like a shot at the NCAAs, but sometimes a six-figure salary is too much of a lure, especially for a guy with a family.
LSU Evens Series with Dominant Offensive Performance. The rubber match is currently underway.
Other NCAAs News
Paul Westerdawg on UGA's Coaching Search. A lot of the attention right now is on VCU's Anthony Grant and Tubby Smith. Grant appears to be a good coach, but before you put too much stock in his success at VCU, be aware that he's winning with Jeff Capel's players. I also think his stategic style is a little suspect, based as it is almost solely on putting the ball in the hands of your best player and just asking him to do something with it. (Actually, I thought we did this a bit too much with Downey at times this year.) That strategy works in mid-major ball, as the better mid-majors usually have a guy or two that is so much better than everyone else on the floor that those players can dominate the game simply by improving with the ball. However, major conference ball usually requires a bit more strategy.
The Dawgs' hiring Smith, IMHO, would be something of a nightmare scenario for the rest of the SEC East. Smith's performance over his last couple of years at Kentucky was a bit suspect, but it's obvious by the job he's doing at Minnesota that the guy still has it. At any rate, he would be a major upgrade for UGA. However, Smith's possible reticence to return to Athens, the possiblity that he may return to his home state to coach UVA, and the fact that he's already in a good situation in the Twin Cities may all work against him coming to Georgia.