Posted on: April 23, 2008 4:42 pm
Had D.J. Augustin returned to Texas the Longhorns would've been a serious candidate for preseason No. 1.
Without him, they are much less serious.
Which is why Wednesday's announcement that Augustin will forgo his final two years of college is crushing news to Rick Barnes, because no other program should take this big of a hit from a single perceived on-the-fence prospect this offseason. If North Carolina just loses one underclassman, it'll still be great. Same would've gone for Memphis or Kansas or UCLA. But Texas is the one program that couldn't afford to lose one specific guy because though Connor Atchley Damion James, Justin Mason, Gary Johnson and A.J. Abrams (yes, I believe he'll be back in school regardless of him 'declaring' for the NBA Draft) provide a nice nucleus, Texas will now be forced to play without its All-America point guard despite having no experienced (or attractive) alternative.
So yeah, this one hurt.
But it's difficult to blame Augustin for making the jump now.
He's been a fabulous two-year player, and as long as he's selected in the first round he'll be guaranteed to earn no less than $1.65 million over the next two years. In real-world terms, it'll take somebody who makes $50,000 per year 33 years to secure that same amount of money. So in that respect, Augustin's decision is a logical one, and now Texas is left to figure out how to get the ball up the court without him.
Posted on: April 18, 2008 2:43 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2008 6:42 pm
None of the North Carolina stars seem ready to make a decision about their future.
Thus, we wait.
But for those keeping count, there are now really just four schools whose national title hopes hinge on a yet-to-be-made decision by an underclassman. They are North Carolina (Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough), Texas (D.J. Augustin), Connecticut (Hasheem Thabeet) and Tennessee (Tyler Smith). If things were to break correctly for those teams -- which is to say, if their players return for another season -- any of them would be a legitimate national title contender. If not -- which is to say, if their players enter the NBA Draft -- any of them would be damaged considerably.
So how will it play out?
Any guess is a reasonable guess on Lawson, Ellington and Hansbrough. They could all go, all stay or some combination of the three could go or stay, meaning there is no simple answer with the Tar Heels. It's likely nobody will know anything until next week. But if they all happen to return, you can go ahead and slot UNC as the preseason No. 1 in every relevant poll.
Moving on, it seems the smart money has Augustin and Thabeet entering with Augustin the most likely of that duo to return (though most believe he's absolutely leaning towards at least testing the waters). And if I had to pick one player from this entire list who I think will return it would be Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward who seems to get pushed down the board every time some other underclassman declares. Smith is aware of this, I'm told. So don't be surprised if he opts for another season at Tennessee, where he could team with McDonald's All-American Scotty Hopson to make the Vols the SEC favorites for the second straight year.
The deadline to enter the draft is April 27.