Arizona fans have Thursday marked on their calendars.
That's the day Brandon Jennings is scheduled to receive his final SAT score, and if the score is sufficient the McDonald's All-American will be eligible to compete as a freshman for the Wildcats (pending clearance from the NCAA, of course) this season. It's supposed to be a big development, one way or another. So I called Jennings' advisor, Kelly Williams, on Sunday to see how things were going, how he was feeling and whether anything had changed.
|Jennings might celebrate a financial windfall, but is it the right move? (US Presswire)|
According to Williams, playing in Europe isn't just a possible backup plan in case Jennings doesn't get the proper score, as has been previously reported by multiple media outlets. It seems Europe will be a viable option even if Jennings' SAT score is fine, and this can't be the news Arizona fans want to hear.
"In all honesty, I think Brandon wants options," Williams said by phone. "If he has the opportunity right now to make $800,000 from a team and get a shoe contract and make more than $1 million before he even goes into the draft, then why wouldn't he do that?"
This is not the column I planned to write.
I called Williams to merely talk about the logistics of playing in Europe and discuss the theory that Jennings might be better off sitting out a year in anticipation of the 2009 NBA Draft than he would be jumping overseas if his SAT score fell short. It's a different game in Europe, you know, a game where experience typically trumps athleticism. And having watched Jennings play multiple times over the years I must admit I'm skeptical whether his flashy way of running an up-and-down team would jibe with Euroleague standards.
"I agree," said Jonathan Givony, the president of DraftExpress.com who is also a consultant for various Euroleague teams. "Jennings' style is not conducive to European basketball. He's super-talented. But he'll have to adjust his game. ... The European game is not his game, and he could get exposed there."
That's precisely why somebody like Brook Lopez won't participate at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp, because the risk far outweighs the reward. It's not that Lopez believes he can't outplay Joey Dorsey. It's just that a top 10 pick gains little from playing against a less-heralded prospect, and if the top 10 pick is outplayed it could damage his stock in a way that costs millions, which brings me back to Jennings.
From the standpoint of draft status, Jennings can only hurt himself in Europe.
Givony projects Jennings as a top five pick in next year's draft, and he'd almost certainly go in the lottery of this week's draft if that silly NBA rule requiring prospects to be a year removed from high school before entering didn't exist. Bottom line, people like Jennings as a talent and his stock is high.
But what if he goes overseas and struggles with the style?
Or struggles with the language barrier?