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Thursday, April 15, 2010
Final Four's MOP weighing his options


Kyle Singler has one of the toughest decisions of any player on the fence about the NBA draft.

If Singler stays at Duke for his senior season, he could get his jersey retired and would have a chance to conclude his career with a national player of the year award and back-to-back national titles, something the Blue Devils did in 1991 and '92. If he waits, Singler could very well move into or near the lottery in the 2011 draft, assuming an NBA lockout doesn't wipe it out.

These are the selling points Duke's staff is providing for Singler and his family, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

If he were to declare and remain in the draft pool -- which is what he told The Oregonian earlier this week when he said, "I'll probably declare or not. I don't want to test the waters. I don't see any value in that." -- then he'll likely fall somewhere in the mid-to-late first round.

"He's basically a 3-man and that position is pretty deep in this draft,'' said one NBA personnel director. "He doesn't blow me away. You can see how he struggled against Baylor, a more athletic team. He does have a tough decision.''

Singler was 0-for-10 from the field against the Bears, his worst performance of the season in Duke's seven-point Elite Eight win. He came back and was stellar in the next two games: 21 points and 9 rebounds against West Virginia and 19 points and 9 rebounds against Butler. That effort earned him a national title in Indy and the Final Four's most outstanding player award.

Singler is right about not needing to test the waters. With the new NCAA rule, players have only until May 8 to withdraw from the NBA draft. Players have until April 25 to declare and workouts can begin April 29. But a number of teams, especially playoff teams, aren't expected to conduct workouts during that short amount of time.

Singler wasn't even considered to be a possible early entrant until the latter part of the season. He struggled finding his own shot during his first two months as a junior. He was 2-of-13 in a loss at Georgia Tech in early January, which followed a 5-of-15 performance against Iowa State. After that, Duke recognized it had to change its offense a bit to get Singler more looks. He started to flourish more and hunt his shot aggressively.

While he's certainly a viable option if available, Singler doesn't have NBA teams anxiously awaiting his decision. Butler's Gordon Hayward has more buzz and is considered a lottery pick, which might make it hard for him to return to the Bulldogs. The one other star holdout is Georgetown's Greg Monroe, who has proved to be a tough player to predict.

"He would be crazy not to come out,'' said one NBA personnel director of Monroe. "A lot of teams in the lottery like him.''

Georgetown's staff wouldn't be stunned if Monroe declares, but he has been honest about not feeling he's ready personally to make the jump. Unlike Singler, if Monroe were to enter the draft, he would shoot up to the lottery without hesitation. Or he could return for his junior season and contend for player of the year and have the Hoyas in the national title hunt.

• There were some rumors that he might be headed to Holy Cross, but Stony Brook's Steve Pikiell has been told he will receive a contract extension. The new contract would be for five more years.

• Orlando Early's decision to leave his head-coaching position at Louisiana-Monroe to be an assistant at South Carolina is the latest example of coaches who have made the head coach-to-assistant jump. Dan Leibovitz left a head-coaching job at Hartford to be an assistant at Penn, while Joe Jones left a head-coaching position at Columbia to be an assistant at Boston College. What happens is these coaches see how difficult it is at the lower level and want to get back to the taste of a power-six job -- or in the case of Leibovitz, a place where basketball is king. The money sometimes isn't that far off. I would expect this trend to continue.