Dallas Colleges: Ekpe Udoh
At No. 2 is Baylor-bound forward Perry Jones, a 6-foot-11 forward out of Duncanville High School. Texas freshman Cory Joseph, a 6-3 guard who played with incoming Longhorns recruit Tristan Thompson at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., comes in at No. 10.
Both players replace one-and-done stars. Baylor's Ekpe Udoh was drafted sixth overall by the Golden State Warriors, and Texas' Avery Bradley, was the 19th overall pick by the Boston Celtics.
Read Fraschilla's full list here.
Ford on the debate between Udoh and Ed Davis (No. 9, Utah Jazz): Udoh seems to have the buzz. He's more polished, is a better offensive player and has the ability to contribute right away. Davis is a better defender, is more explosive athletically and is bigger. He impressed the Jazz and Pacers in recent workouts with his improved shooting ability, but everyone knows he's a project.
Ford on debate about Bradley vs. Eric Bledsoe: Both players are considered raw and unproven, but both have tremendous athletic ability and upside. ... The real question for both players will come down to one spot in the lottery -- the Raptors at 13.
That should make Udoh feel awfully good about being a lottery pick (top 14). The NBA goes to great pains to research picks so that they don't invite players who end up sitting there and sitting there and sitting there -- although we all know there are no guarantees. But, it is looking good for Mr. Udoh, who had one dominant season with the Bears after transferring from Michigan.
At the moment, ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford projects the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Udoh to be selected by the Houston Rockets with the 14th overall pick.
Udoh would be only the fourth first-round NBA draft choice in Baylor history, joining Vinnie Johnson (1979), Terry Teagle (1982) and Brian Skinner (1998). Johnson is the only top-10 draft pick in school history and Udoh would be the first lottery pick from Baylor (the lottery was not introduced until 1985).
Baylor coach Scott Drew will accompany Udoh to The Theater at Madison Square Garden, site of the draft.
That's called a lottery pick and that's called hitting the jackpot.
Displaying an array of offensive ability, from post-ups to dribble-drives to mid-range jumpers, he quickly became one of the most-watched college prospects in the land. Some at least had him as a blip on their radar screen before his breakout season.
"One of our big scouts is in Detroit, Don Sicko, when Udoh didn’t get much playing time up there, he kept just writing him up, saying you’ve got to track this guy regardless," said Ryan Blake, the NBA's director of scouting. "And once he hits, you’ve got to be ready for him, he’s going to explode if he continues to work."
Udoh set a Big 12 Conference record for blocks and averaged 9.8 rebounds, results the Bears coaching staff half expected. But, Udoh's 13.9 points a game on 49 percent shooting and 2.7 assists completely changed the dynamics of the Bears' previously perimeter-based offense.
The 6-10, 240-pounder continued to produce at high level through the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament, further cementing his place as a lottery pick.
"He also had a maturation process that went along through the year and his confidence was what really absorbed in him because regardless what level you go to, whether it’s high school to college or college to the pros, some people can be the greatest athlete and very good on the court, but lose confidence and basically they don’t have it," Blake said. "I think with him, getting into the Big Dance and keeping himself focused was really, really big, so I think that really helped. He is a smart kid."
Now, where will Udoh land?
That's a toss up. The various mock drafts have him going anywhere from No. 7 to No. 14 in the draft. Those teams, in order, are Detroit, the LA Clippers, Utah, Indiana, New Orleans, Memphis, Toronto and Houston.
In Chad Ford's latest mock draft (version 3.0) on ESPN.com, he has Udoh headed to the Houston Rockets with the No. 14 pick. And only two of the 12 mock drafts featured on NBA.com do not include Udoh among the top 14.
There are some concerns that Udoh, despite possessing a remarkable wing span of 7-foot-4 inches, won't be physical enough or have the leaping ability to battle the top power forwards in the league.
"It’s going to be a little bit more physical, he’s going to have to get stronger, but I think with his opportunity, I think he is going to be able to reach that," Blake said. "I don’t know at what level because he’s still developing."
Here's the full list of early entries.
Of the Big 12 players, ESPN Insider Chad Ford projects two as lottery picks in his first mock draft: Kansas' Cole Aldrich (No. 6 to Philadelphia) and Baylor's Ekpe Udoh (No. 10 to Indiana).
Ford also projects Kansas' Xavier Henry (15th to Milwaukee), Oklahoma State's James Anderson (17th to Chicago), Texas' Avery Bradley (25th to Memphis) and Oklahoma's Willie Warren of North Crowley (29th to Orlando) as first-round selections.
The other Big 12 players on the list are Iowa State's Craig Brackins and a pair of Oklahoma Sooners, Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin.
Eighty underclassmen have declared for 60 spots in the NBA Draft. The math doesn't add up. Whose calculations were most wrong? ESPN Insiders Doug Gottlieb, Fran Fraschilla and Chad Ford all have an opinion, especially on Texas guard Avery Bradley.
Gottlieb: Baylor's Ekpe Udoh is a no-brainer, and should stay. Oklahoma's Willie Warren has no choice, since he's signed with an agent. Avery Bradley, however ... For more, click here (Insider content).
Fraschilla: Bradley is a great kid, but he's not ready to help NBA teams after one year at Texas. For more, click here (Insider content).
Ford: Udoh looks like a lock to be a lottery pick, but Bradley's up-and-down performances raise questions and he might be better off with another season at Texas. For more, click here (Insider content).
To see the entire 2010 NBA draft early entry list, click here.
Dunn held a press conference late Thursday afternoon to inform Bears fans that he will return to school for his senior season. That's good news for a program that will graduate its point guard and team leader Tweety Carter and is losing junior power forward Ekpe Udoh to the NBA.
Dunn was really never much of a threat to declare for the NBA Draft after leading the Bears with a 19.6 scoring average. Despite a terrific season, the Monroe, La., native has not been rated highly by draft experts, although he did improve his stock with an excellent postseason and did emerge as a potential second-round pick in some mock drafts.
Only first-round picks garner guaranteed contracts, so had Dunn declared he would have taken a significant risk. Had he gone undrafted, he also would have surrendered his final year of eligibility. Dunn could have declared, but not hired an agent. In that case he would have had until May 8 to back out of the draft and return to school.
Dunn, who will be a top contender to lead the Big 12 in scoring next season and could be a preseason MVP candidate, will be counted on, as the lone senior, to lead a young and talented team.
Baylor had six freshmen on last season's team and a solid draft class is on the way. On Wednesday, the Bears signed Winston-Salem, N.C., point guard Stargell Love for the 2010-11 season. Love joins early signees Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas), a 6-foot-10 forward ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPNU Top 100, and 6-3 guard Bakari Turner (Plano, Texas) to complete the three-player signing class that is ranked No. 17 by ESPN.
Dunn has not been rated highly by draft experts, but he did improve his stock with an excellent postseason that saw the Bears advance to the school's first Elite Eight in the modern era. The junior out of Monroe, La., led the Bears in scoring at 19.6 points a game and shot 41.9 percent from 3-point range. He also averaged 4.8 rebounds.
If he returns, Dunn, 22, will be a top candidate to lead the Big 12 in scoring. However, two days ago Dunn watched junior forward Ekpe Udoh declare for the NBA Draft and senior point guard Tweety Carter, one of the main reasons Dunn chose to come to Baylor, will graduate.
The best guess is that the 6-foot-4 Dunn declares for the draft, but does not hire an agent, allowing him to retain his eligibility. He would have until May 8 to pull out of the draft and return to Baylor for his senior season.
Dunn will not be a first-round pick and second-round picks are not granted guaranteed contracts.
Dunn will test the waters, but will likely be back in a Bears uniform next season. Another solid season while he refines his ball-handling skills and playing more under control could potentially catapult him into the first round.
And he'll be surrounded by talented players. Baylor had six freshmen on last season's team and a solid draft class is on the way. On Wednesday, the Bears signed Winston-Salem, N.C., point guard Stargell Love for the 2010-11 season. Love joins early signees Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas), a 6-foot-10 forward ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPNU Top 100, and 6-3 guard Bakari Turner (Plano, Texas) to complete the three-player signing class that is ranked No. 17 by ESPN.
One freshman, Givon Crump, will not be back next season. Crump, a native of Washington D.C., will transfer. He played in 16 games and averaged 0.4 points and 0.3 rebounds.
You will be hard-pressed to find a college basketball player this season who did more to progress his own career path and elevate his program than Baylor junior power forward Ekpe Udoh.
Udoh completed an epic campaign in his first season with the Bears, leading the school to a record 28 victories and its first Elite Eight appearance. And on Tuesday, the 6-foot-10 shot-blocker extraordinaire and much more made did the inevitable, making his intentions known that he will declare for the 2010 NBA draft in June.
Initially, he said he would not immediately hire an agent, but that was only because he has yet to find one he is comfortable with. Bears fans, if only for a second, held out hope of a return. But, that will not be the case. His father, Sam, said as much.
"I think it was very difficult for him to make the decision," Sam Udoh said. "He is leaning very much to the NBA. If he is not, I don't think he would have declared for the draft."
Quite simply, the NBA money is too good pass up. Udoh is projected as a late lottery pick. If drafted, he will sign a guaranteed two-year contract with an opportunity to later extend it by another three years and bank millions of dollars.
There's a significant factor at play for any player contemplating turning pro. The NBA's cloudy labor picture threatens to wipe out the 2011-12 season with a work stoppage, the season after what would be Udoh's senior year. A new collective bargaining agreement will eventually be hammered out and the league is looking to revamp the salary structure, and that would assuredly include a reduction in the value of current rookie contracts.
Udoh, who established a school and Big 12 season blocks records with 133 and was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a second-team All-Big 12 selection, averaged 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 2.7 assists in 36 games. His outstanding performances in the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament only increased his draft stock.
Udoh spent his first two seasons at Michigan before deciding to transfer to Baylor. When he arrived in Waco two years ago, Udoh was known as good defender who lacked a consistent offensive game. While sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, he spent every day in the gym with former Baylor assistant Matt Driscoll (now head coach at North Florida) and refined his offensive attack, which includes an array of low-post moves, dribble-drives and mid-range jumpers.
Baylor fans would certainly have loved to have seen Udoh back in green-and-gold, especially with leader Tweety Carter graduating. Baylor will lose three starters in all, including 7-foot center Josh Lomers.
But, now Baylor fans can turn their attention to the next big thing in McDonald's All-American forward Perry Jones out of Duncanville.
In his heart, Udoh might have liked to have stayed one more season. But, his head made the right decision. Really, he had no other choice.
"My time here was great. It was the best time of my life," Udoh said. "I have got 13 new brothers. I got a coaching staff that I can ride with until I die."
And in the end, Udoh's venture to the NBA will work in coach Scott Drew's favor. He will soon have a player in the NBA, and all recruits love to hear that.
Udoh, who established Baylor and Big 12 Conference single-season blocks records with 133, was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and was a second-team All-Big 12 selection. He averaged 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 2.7 assists in 36 games. He helped lead the Bears to their best season in the modern era, with a school-record 28 wins while advancing to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament. Baylor fell to eventual champion Duke, 78-71, in Houston.
The Edmond, Okla., native posted a team-best 16 double-doubles, while establishing career-best single-game and single-season marks in points, rebounding, assists and blocked shots. Udoh's 351 rebounds ranked fourth on Baylor's single-season rebounding list.
Udoh played two years at Michigan before transferring to Baylor. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Udoh worked hard on his offensive game and brought a new inside-outside dyanmic to the Bears.
Udoh, projected as a late lottery pick to mid-first-round selection in June's NBA Draft, wasn't interested in discussing his future after Sunday's tough regional final loss to Duke. If it was Udoh's final game, he went out in style. He finished with 18 points, team highs with 10 rebounds -- seven offensive -- and six assists, plus five blocked shots and a steal in 37 minutes.
Udoh would have been a senior this season, but he transferred from Michigan after his sophomore season and sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules.
Coach Scott Drew said he and Udoh will begin to discuss his options in a couple of days. The last Baylor player drafted in the first round was Brian Skinner in 1998. Drew would obviously love to have Udoh back for his senior season, but he said if not, it's a good situation for the program.
"That’s great because you want to have players that have decisions to make because that means you’re bringing in the right type of players," Drew said. "We’ll wait a couple of days and the great thing about Ekpe is he’s so intelligent you don’t ever have to worry about him making a quick decision or a bad decision, leaving or staying, without analyzing it, and that’s what you always care about as a coach because you just don’t want kids to make a bad decision."
Udoh's decision is made more complicated because of the NBA's cloudy labor picture. An impending lockout looms for the 2011-12 season, meaning if Udoh were to stay at Baylor for the 2010-11 season, he could be without a place to play the next season. And, the league's salary structure is bound to change with rookies taking a pay cut.
Currently, players drafted in the first round receive guaranteed two-year contracts with the team holding an option to extend the contract three more years. A player projected to be taken where Udoh is would stand to make several million dollars over the first two seasons.
Duke's 7-footer Brian Zoubek showed off an array of body of body art Saturday. Not tattooes, but black-and-blue battle wounds and scars from doing the dirty work in the paint. Along with 6-10 brothers Miles Plumlee and Mason Plumlee, Duke is an exceptional rebounding team.
Zoubek said he has a plan for thwarting Baylor's exceptional zone defense, finding a way to elude Udoh and crashing the offensive boards. It starts with pump fakes to a get a shot off and then concentrating on cleaning the glass.
"He'll come over and try to block shots on our guards when they drive," Zoubek said of Udoh. "Then the lane will be wide open for offensive rebounding and he won't be blocking out when he tries to block shots."
Zoubek, who averages 7.6 rebounds a game, rotates with the Plumlee brothers, who provide more athleticism and shot blocking.
The Bears have been solid inside and, like Duke, are accustomed to controlling the boards. Lomers is playing his best basketball of the season with 16 rebounds, 12 coming on the offensive glass, in the past two games after averaging fewer than four a game in the regular season.
"We're just going to do the same thing we've done throughout the season, stick with what got us here," Lomers said. "They're good players and we're just going to do our thing."
Udoh said Baylor's 11-5 run through the Big 12 Conference, rated No. 1 in the nation in RPI, has them plenty prepared for swapping elbow blows in the paint.
"The Big 12 has gotten us ready for this stage," Udoh said. "I mean, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas. Everybody in the Big 12 had tough big men. So I think we're ready for this challenge."
First, who are the new guys already in? The Butler Bulldogs are for the first time ever, having upset Syracuse and Kansas State. The Bulldogs, coached by 33-year-old Brad Stevens, get to play in their hometown.
West Virginia is also in after stunning Kentucky. The Mountaineers, led by Morgantown native Bob Huggins, haven't made the Final Four since 1959.
And now we have Bruce Pearl's Tennessee Volunteers and Scott Drew's Baylor Bears attempting to make it a clean sweep for the renegades against the establishment.
Tennessee faces Tom Izzo's never-say-die Michigan State Spartans and the Bears -- truly the real Cinderella here after being picked to finish 10th in the Big 12 -- get the Duke Blue Devils, the final No. 1 seed standing, and coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The Volunteers are in the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. Baylor hasn't been here since 1950 when the tournament field was eight. Krzyzewski is 10-1 in regional final games.
For the Bears, a trip to Indianapolis will likely hinge on the play of their Big Three -- Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh against the Big Three of Duke -- Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith.
So, are the Stars aligned for a new-ear Final Four? Krzyzewski says get used to the parity and the unexpected:
"Different teams have a chance to win right now unless you get that super team that has guys sticking together who are pro caliber, pro caliber for a while," Krzyzewski said. "It will be like this from now on, which I don't think is bad. It's pretty darn interesting. But it's tougher to maintain a high level."
"I do. I think it's a very important matchup," Samhan, the dominant player in the NCAA tournament so far, averaging 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two wins, said Monday on a teleconference. "There's also the guard matchup that's going to be huge, but I think the bigs have really dictated a lot for their teams this year, me and him, and I think it's going to be a key matchup."
So how does the 265-pound senior like his chances against the junior Udoh, who said he weighs in at about 240 pounds "on a good day"?
"Well, the biggest challenges is he can jump and I can't. Um, he's fast and I'm not. He's strong and I'm not. A lot of the challenges are physical," Samhan, laughing, yet halfway serious. "Like I said, he's a great athlete, but I'm pretty skilled down low. Although I'll have trouble guarding him, I think he'll have trouble guarding me. The biggest thing is he going to go one-on-one with me or are they going to run that zone? We don't really know what they're going to do."
Baylor will stick mostly with their 2-3 zone, why change now? That means Baylor's back line of Udoh, 7-foot Josh Lomers -- 6-7 Quincy Acy when he's in and Lomers is out -- and lanky 6-10 Anthony Jones will have their hands full containing Samhan, who has increased his scoring by 10 points from the regular season and is shooting 75 percent in two NCAA tournament games.
"It's going to be tough, we're just going to have to pick and choose when we switch out [of zone to man-to-man]," Udoh said. "I've watched him play, he's a bigger guy, he has a European taste to his game, I mean, it's going to be fun."
Villanova coach Jay Wright said he tried everything against Samhan and nothing worked.
"If they go one-on-one I think it will be a good matchup and could be a good battle in there," Samhan said. "If they go zone or double-team I'll probably have to kick out more, so we won't be able to see me go to work that much against him."
But, Baylor Bears had been here before, playing tightly contested games all season. Remember, through 33 games entering the contest with Sam Houston, the Bears hadn't lost by more than seven points and they had seven wins by five points or less, so they understand the pressures of crunch time.
Baylor forward Ekpe Udoh said the team has a name for it.
"We call it Kobe time," Udoh said. "So we just buckled down, stayed aggressive and pulled out the win."
The Bears channeled the Lakers superstar after Mitchell tied it up, going on an 8-0 run over the next 2:44 for a 63-55 lead with 1:04 to go.
Udoh, A.J. Walton and Quincy Acy all came up with key steals. The run finally sprang LaceDarius Dunn, who scored six of his 13 points in the stretch. Sam Houston's surprising triangle-and-two defense caused Dunn and Tweety Carter problems throughout the game.
The Bears just might need to turn to "Kobe time" in Saturday's second-round game with a trip to the Sweet 16 in Houston on the line. No. 11 Old Dominion Monarchs pulled out a 51-50 win over No. 6 Notre Dame on Thursday.
Saturday's tip time is 4:50 p.m.
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