The 2007 NFL Draft is in the books, so now it's time to switch my focus to the 2007 NBA Draft. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for this year's draft was on April 29th, so let's take a look at where the two draft eligible Trojans stand. Those who have hired an agent (Nick Young) or are declaring for the second time (Aaron Awful-0) have terminated their eligibility and must remain in the draft. Those who have not hired an agent (Gabe Pruitt) can "test the waters" of the NBA to see where they stand and will have until June 18th to withdraw their name for the draft and return to school. Click on the following link from NBADraft.net for the complete 2007 Official Early Entry List.
USC knows that it will need to replace "Noodles" Nick Young, but more and more I get the feeling that "Smiling" Gabe Pruitt will need to be replaced as well. In case you missed it, Pruitt announced his intentions to enter the draft in late April. That "early entry" link from NBADraft.net lists Pruitt as a "bubble first rounder" and projects him as the 2nd pick of the 2nd round (#32 overall) to the Boston Celtics. NBADraft.net updates their mock draft on their home page regularly so check back every couple weeks or so. ESPN Insider has a more detailed scouting report of him here, and ranks him as the 24th best player in this year's draft. If you don't have an insider account, here's what it says about Pruitt:
Draft Projection: Mid to late 1st Round
Notes: Pruitt announced on April 26th that he will declare for the 2007 NBA Draft. Pruitt hasn't hired an agent to preserve his college eligibility.
Positives: Big-time athlete and scorer with great size for the position. Can break down his defender or hit the jumper. Excellent range on his 3-point shot. Has strong leadership qualities. Good defender.
Negatives: Injuries gave him a slow start to the season. May be a little more of a combo guard than a pure point guard.
Summary: A sleeper. A number of NBA scouts commented that they were very intrigued with his play toward the end of the season. If he can show that he's a legit point prospect, he's going to get a lot of love. He has all of the rest of the tools. Should be a mid to late first round pick.
Nick Young has hired an agent an will remain in the draft. Most experts believe that Young will be a 1st round pick. The aforementioned link on NBADraft.net says that Young is a "likely mid to late first rounder" and projects him as the 16th pick in the draft to the Washington Wizards. ESPN Insider ranks Young as the 18th best player in the draft, and here's what it says about Nick Young:
Draft Projection: Lottery to mid first round
Notes: Young announced on April 18th that he was declaring for the 2007 NBA Draft.
Positives: A smooth, scoring swingman who does a little bit of everything. Good athlete with long arms and explosiveness. Skilled in just about every area of the game. Nice form on his jump shot, both the long and midrange jumper. Good rebounder. Game looks like it comes easy to him.
Negatives: Intensity. Young doesn't always seem to possess that killer instinct on either end of the floor. Disappears at times. Work ethic has been questioned. At times in the past, he has played out of control. He also needs to hit the weight room.
Summary: Young has the potential to be a lottery pick with his skills. But scouts are still waiting for him to put it all together consistently. The skills wow you, and his consistent play for the Trojans this season have moved him solidly into the first round.
Good luck to both of our guys, and Gabe, I hope whatever decision you make is the right one. Either way, you've got my full support. Be sure to catch the NBA Draft Lottery on May 22nd, as well as the playoffs.