I am stunned and shocked to hear that Duke's Mike Dunleavy is staying in the NBA draft. I know people will wonder how I can be shocked when he's looking at megadollars, probably going third overall to the Golden State Warriors -- that is, unless Memphis Grizzlies GM Jerry West can pull off a magic act and trade up a slot. I know West loves Dunleavy's game.
Why am I so surprised? I thought Dunleavy would go the route of Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan and David Robinson, to name a few.
I thought Dunleavy would go the route of Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan and David Robinson.
I believed he was a four-year college guy -- he would have been a candidate for national player of the year honors (after being a second team All-American in 2001-02).
He would have had a shot at another national championship, given Duke's returning talent and incoming class. He would have had his jersey flying high in Cameron Indoor Stadium, like all the great ones who played for the Dukies.
I thought his priorities were a little bit different because finances aren't a problem in the Dunleavy household, given what his dad has achieved as a player and a coach. I wish Dunleavy Jr. all the luck in the world. Clearly, he has a bright future. He's 6-foot-10 with great inside-outside ability and a super touch ... but his decision really breaks my heart. I thought he was going to complete a four-year career on the Durham, N.C., campus.
Oh well, the beat will go on. Trust me, Duke will still be tough to deal with. But the Blue Devils will miss three underclassmen who are leaving early. In fact, think about the potential 2002-03 All-ACC team now heading to the NBA early: Dunleavy, Jay Williams and Carlos Boozer, all of Duke; Chris Wilcox of Maryland; and Roger Mason Jr. of Virginia (I spoke Wednesday with Mason's coach, Peter Gillen, who will miss him big-time).
Those five could have been first team all-conference next season, baby! But now it's bye-bye college hoops, hello NBA. In many cases, kids lose the greatest years of their lives by leaving college early. My friends, there is nothing like being a college student -- nothing like being part of a special environment, maturing, learning and gaining experiences that you can't get back. Players can perform in the NBA and earn plenty of cash for years to come.
Draft day is going to be interesting, with all the underclassmen. I'm sure some of these players will be disappointed by their lower selection -- possibly out of the first round and the guaranteed money. That's just one man's opinion.