It's been almost a full calendar year since we turned our focus to the 2009-10 hoops season. We met the recruits. We greeted the veterans. We saw them play through five months of college basketball, from Midnight to March Madness. We laughed. We cried. We learned. We loved.
And now, many of those players are heading to the NBA, leaving college basketball behind. Despite my relatively unadvanced age (I'm just a couple years older than some of the draft picks) sometimes this process feels like being a high school teacher forced to say goodbye to a graduating class. You come to "meet" (and in some cases actually meet) a group of young people. You spend a year with them. You watch them struggle and flourish. And then you send them off to bigger and better things, waving in the rearview mirror as they go.
That is the NBA draft.
We'll check in now and then. We'll make sure our old students are doing well. We'll lament the burnouts. We'll thrill at the ones who really make something of themselves. We'll say we saw their potential even when we didn't. It's true: We college basketball fans are like a big, passive, amoebic high school faculty, and today the kids are all grown up.
All of which is a really long, silly way of me telling you that no high school graduation is complete without at least two or three intensely embarrassing senior photos. (True story: A kid in my high school graduating class did his senior photo with his shirt off -- it may have been tied around his waist; I can't remember -- and a football in hand. He insisted it was the photographer's idea. Amazing.)
We have those senior photos today thanks to Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby, who compiled the best of the 2010 NBA draft portraits into an easily digestible bit of second-hand embarrassment. With the exception of Wes Johnson and Cole Aldrich, pretty much everyone looks ridiculous. DeMarcus Cousins forget to button his sleeves. John Wall is wearing one of those silly LeBron-style custom-made cardigans. And Evan Turner looks like your boss on laundry day.
It's thoroughly awesome, and it makes me just a little bit sentimental. Farewell, boys. May you all be able to afford personal stylists soon. And don't forget to call!