Tuesday, May 04, 2004

No surprises
It came as no real surprise when after scheduling a press conference, UNC recruit J.R. Smith decided to skip college (at least for now -- he didn't hire an agent) and make himself eligible for the draft. Shaun Livingston, who was headed to Duke, also declared for the draft (he too didn't immediately sign with an agent). Both players have until June 17th to withdraw from the draft.

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that both players will probably go in the first round, but Livingston is the safer pick.
"Livingston [is] a safe bet to go in the top 10, primarily because he is a point guard with the length of a shooting guard or small forward."

Smith, a 6-6 wing player, is more likely to go in the mid-to-late teens. He shot up the draft charts based on spectacular performances in prep all-star games in Chicago and Oklahoma City.
The whole idea of making career decisions based on a few games is in my mind a bad one, but at least Smith didn't yet sign an agent. What's really troubling are comments like this from Smith:
"At times I shocked myself with what I can do...The three (all-star) games I did play in, after talking to the players, they were like, thinking, 'Man, you should come out (into the draft).' "
I saw the McDonald's game and Smith looked spectacular but you have to take that with a grain of salt -- all-star games are intended to showcase offensive talent, not identify the Gary Paytons and Bruce Bowens of organized basketball.

As a Tarheel fan hoping to see him play in Chapel Hill next fall, I begrudgingly wish Smith success and hope his NBA career follows closely that of other former UNC players, with the notable exception of the player is game most resembles -- Joe Forte.