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April 30, 2011 at 7:03 AM

Pac-12 power drain; Jeremy Green declares for NBA draft

Time to change the subject from Washington’s recruiting woes and take a look at the underclassmen bolting the Pac-12 teams. Stanford junior Jeremy Green is the latest to declare for the NBA draft.
Under the current rules, which are changing next year (I’ll post a comment about this tomorrow) he has until May 8 to withdraw from the June 23 draft and return to school assuming he doesn’t hire an agent.
Green is the eighth Pac-10 underclassmen to declare early for the NBA draft. He joins Washington’s Isaiah Thomas, Washington State’s Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, Arizona’s Derrick Williams, USC’s Nikola Vucevic and UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee.
Colorado sophomore Alec Burks also decided to leave school early for the draft.

If they all were to remain in the draft, then California guard Jorge Gutierrez and UCLA forward Reeves Nelson would be the Pac-10’s top returners. They are the only players slated to return who were chosen to the 10-man all-conference first team.
Gutierrez, who averaged 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists, and Reeves (13.9, 9.1 and 1.6) are solid role players. However, it remains to be seen if they can carry their teams let alone the conference to an elite level.
The returning all-conference second team picks include: Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham, California’s Harper Kamp and Allen Crabbe and Arizona State’s Trent Lockett. Arizona’s Lamont Jones and Stanford’s Josh Owens were honorable mention choices.
In many ways it feels like 2008 when the Pac-10 suffered a mass exodus of its stars.
That year the league lost UCLA’s Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, Stanford’s Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, Arizona’s Jerryd Bayless, USC’s O.J. Mayo and California’s Ryan Anderson. They were all taken in the first round of the NBA draft.
The next year the Pac-10 lost seven underclassmen to the NBA draft.
The conference still hasn’t fully recovered from losing so many talented players during that two-year span. The league made strides this year when four teams played in the NCAA tournament after just two made it in 2010.
Change is inevitable in collegiate sports, but if the incoming freshmen don’t live up to the hype it appears as if the new Pac-12 will take a step back next season.
— taps publisher Jonathan Givony who provides commentary on the top NBA early entry draft prospects. On Thomas, Givony writes: “Considering his age (22), the season he’s coming off and the fact that his biggest limitation (his height) is unlikely to change, it’s difficult to criticize his decision.”
Doug Haller at the Arizona Republic writes: “Over the past two seasons, the Pac-10/12 has signed 16 junior-college players, the most over a two-year span for the conference since 2002-2003.”
— There’s still about three weeks left in the signing period, but on its pay site compiled the top 30 recruiting classes for 2011. Washington ranks No. 20.

Comments | Topics: UCLA


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