By Luke DeCock - email@example.com
C.J. Leslie is feeling the pinch of the NCAA’s new draft deadline. Instead of past years, when underclassmen had two months to feel out their NBA options, or last year, when the deadline was May 8, the NCAA is demanding an answer by next Tuesday, April 10.
The fates of college programs are merely hanging in the balance, not to mention next season’s ACC title race. Not surprisingly, Lisa Leslie, the N.C. State star forward’s mother, said Tuesday the pressure to make the right decision is tremendous.
“You only have a short window, so you really have to stay on it,” Lisa Leslie said. “You have to investigate, get as much research as you can and then make your decision.”
In C.J. Leslie’s case, that means getting information from the NBA’s advisory committee, a group of league executives to provide potential early entry candidates with a sense of their draft status. Tuesday was the deadline to file that non-binding request, which Leslie did, and the NBA is required to provide a response by Friday.
Once that information is in hand, Lisa Leslie said, the family will meet with N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried and make a decision.
Of the NBA decisions made so far, none has really affected the direction of a program. Austin Rivers leaving the program doesn’t help the Blue Devils, but if there’s an area where Duke can absorb a loss, it’s on the perimeter, and North Carolina had been preparing for the departure of Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and John Henson since they arrived.
A few of the choices that remain will have real impacts on the future of the programs involved, and by extension the ACC. Without Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State would have to rely heavily on freshmen. Without Mason Plumlee, it’s hard to figure out who will start at forward for Duke, barring a late recruit. And without James Michael McAdoo, the Tar Heels might not have an inside scoring option.
A North Carolina spokesman said Tuesday that McAdoo has not submitted his name to the NBA as an early entry. A Duke spokesman said Plumlee had not submitted his name to the NBA but has requested an evaluation by the advisory committee.
Brown may be the most affected by the NCAA’s new deadline. Under different circumstances, he might work out for teams, see his stock continue to rise, end up solidly in the first round and leave N.C. State. With the new deadline, he has to decide now. Right now.
DraftExpress has Brown rated as the 73rd-best prospect in the draft, an example of how much work he still has to do to get into the first round.
“I believe Lorenzo Brown is going back to school,” said Joe Kotoch, editor of probasketballdraft.com. “Same thing with McAdoo.”
McAdoo is a different story, though. He’s a likely lottery pick this year but could be the top pick next year. Is the lure of being one of the best forwards in the ACC – perhaps the country – enough for McAdoo?
The freshman emerged as a dominant scorer in the ACC and NCAA tournaments after being hidden behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson for most of the season. He’d give an inside scoring presence to a team that figures to be heavily weighted toward the perimeter next season, and he’d be in the mix for the No. 1 pick.
“Aside from Cody Zeller, I can’t think of any other returning guys who are going to be top-five picks definitively,” Kotoch said. “(Incoming freshmen) Shabazz Muhammad and (Nerlens) Noel, and then probably a battle for that fifth spot.”
More immediately, though, Leslie, Plumlee, McAdoo and Brown all have less than a week to figure out where they would rank in this summer’s NBA draft. For all three Triangle teams, there’s a lot riding on the next six days.
DeCock: firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947
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