Monday, May 03, 2004

J.R. Smith update
J.R. Smith, high school All-American set to attend UNC in the fall except for one minor detail -- he'll announce today whether he intends to make himself eligible for the draft. While that's not news, Smith, if he does indeed declare for the draft, will not hire an agent to guarantee his college eligibility -- at least for now. And according to my friend Andy, a player has up until some period, I think it is 2 weeks, before the draft to pull out. If you stay in, even if you're the last pick in the second round, you can't go to college. So while not hiring an agent is probably a good idea in the short run, Smith will still have some important decisions to make leading up to the draft. So I guess there's still some hope that Smith might choose college, but the possibility still looks remote.

The Charlotte Observer has a table of former UNC players that left college early and only two players (Jeff McInnis-37th and Joe Forte-21st) were taken after the fifth pick. McInnis was a big point guard and despite some character issues has done pretty well as a professional. J.R. Smith is most like Joe Forte in that he is a great shooter but not an adept ball-handler. Forte sat at the end of the Celtics bench for a few years before being traded to Seattle where they tried unsuccessfully to make him a point guard. Last I checked he's still out of the league.
Bob McAdoo 1972/Jr. 1 2 Buffalo
James Worthy 1982/Jr. 1 1 L.A. Lakers
Michael Jordan 1984/Jr. 1 3 Chicago
J.R. Reid 1989/Jr. 1 5 Charlotte
Jerry Stackhouse 1995/So. 1 3 Philadelphia
Rasheed Wallace 1995/So. 1 4 Washington
Jeff McInnis 1996/Jr. 2 37 Denver
Antawn Jamison 1998/Jr. 1 4 Toronto
Vince Carter 1998/Jr. 1 5 Golden State
Joseph Forte 2001/So. 1 21 Boston
Being a 2-guard with average ball-handling skills puts you in a tough spot as an NBA player -- and the NBA is no where to hone skills that should have been developed in high school and college. If you don't think so, ask Rashad McCants. I don't think many people were mentioning his name coming out of high school, but McCants has gained both maturity and experience while at UNC and if he had decided to come out early this year he most certainly would have been a lottery pick. But like I've said before, no one ever offered me a few million dollars to not go to college. But I'm guessing if J.R. Smith goes to Chapel Hill for a year or two he'll be more like Vince Carter in the NBA than Joe Forte.