Luke Harangody is not the first. He won't be the last. But if you find the occasionally wide gulf between college performance and NBA draft stock as fascinating as I do, then you probably want to pay attention to the NBA draft fate of the man somewhat obnoxiously called The Gody. That's not even a nickname, really. It's just a portion of his last name with "The" in front of it. Weak.
Anyway, everyone knows Harangody's deal. The forward was an exorbitantly productive player at Notre Dame, becoming the school's first three-time All-Big East selection and becoming the first player in the history of the Big East to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding in two consecutive seasons. If you never saw him play and only ever looked at his numbers, you'd assume Harangody was a no-brainer first-round draft pick. His collegiate production was just that good.
Of course, the NBA draft doesn't work that way. NBA scouts do watch players play. When they saw Harangody play, they saw a burly, undersized forward who relied on an unorthodox jump shot and a coterie of herky-jerky low-post moves to create his offense. They saw a guy who rebounded like a maniac, but who also siphoned a huge portion of his team's possessions, not always efficiently. They also saw a guy whose team inarguably played better without him in 2009-10, and whose return came just in time for the once-resurgent Irish to lifelessly fall to Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Oh, but that production! That range! Is there really no place for performance like that in the NBA?
As it stands, Chad Ford currently has Harangody ranked No. 53 overall in his pre-draft rankings. The highest anyone has rumored Harangody going is to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 37; most mock drafts have Harangody in the Nos. 50-57 range. For his part, Harangody is hanging tight in Shererville, Ind., where he seems downright relieved to have the process -- the workouts and flights and all the rest of it -- behind him.
Tonight will be interesting to watch, but just as interesting will be the rest of Harangody's career. It could go anywhere. He could be the new DaJuan Blair -- much-maligned despite his production, drafted in the second round, immediately productive in the NBA. Or he could fail completely. Whatever happens, the cause of college production over NBA potential -- in so far as it's a "cause" in the first place -- will have yet another interesting test case on its hands. Not the first. Not the last. But interesting all the same.