John DeLong at the Winston-Salem Journal examines whether Tyler Hansbrough damaged his draft status by staying in school.
It gives credence to the adage that the longer a player stays in college, the further down the NBA Draft he slides.
For sure, there is only one college senior, Georgetown's Roy Hibbert, who is projected to have even a chance of being a lottery pick. There could be just two college seniors -- Hibbert and Rider's Jason Thompson -- drafted in the first round.
So is Tyler Hansbrough spending money by returning to North Carolina for his senior season?
It's as compelling a question as any predraft analysis, partly because the ACC's lack of presence in the draft makes it a dull one locally. Duke's DeMarcus Nelson might sneak into the late second round, but only because of his Duke pedigree. Hickson? Did he actually play at N.C. State or was that all a science-fiction horror movie filmed in Raleigh last winter that never really happened?
The short answer on Hansbrough is that it probably doesn't matter if he's losing money. You can't buy happiness, and if Hansbrough is happy in Chapel Hill playing ACC basketball and having a big senior year and enjoying college life and graduating on time, then that's reason enough to stay. If Hansbrough sets school records and wins a national championship and cements his legacy along with the all-time UNC and ACC greats, so what if he drops a few spots by the 2009 draft?
The longer answer, though, is that he WON'T drop.
The longer answer is that Hansbrough falls into a unique classification in NBA circles, one in which he'll never rise too high in the draft and he'll never fall too far. That's because his strengths are defined, his weaknesses are defined. In the words of John Fox, he is what he is.
Tyler Hansbrough is the definition of consistency. He plays with maximum effort and then some. Hansbrough also has bucked a great many conventional wisdoms along the way. He is a 6-9 forward who does not possess great explosiveness off the floor or on it for the matter. His shot of choice is a ugly, from the hip hook shot that no one has been able to succinctly label and his FT shooting is guard-like in nature hovering around 80%. Hansbrough gives about 15% beyond what ever you might consider his top effort and plays every game like it will be his last on this earth. No one expected him to be what he is now despite being a top ten recruit. In fact Adam Gold at 850 is quoted in Will Blythe's book To Hate Like This... that UNC would be lucky if Hansbrough was as good as Carlos Boozer was at Duke. Turns out he was and then some. Add to this the fact that Hansbrough has continued to develop parts of his game folks said he did not have such as hitting 15 foot jumpers. He is a constant work in progress, always working to improve his game.
Hansbrough's entire UNC career has been about proving people wrong and doing a whole host of things no one thought he would be able to do. And Delong is also correct to point out that for someone who is able to put in an effort like Hansbrough both in practice and in the game, there has to be value there and it is something you can be fairly sure will stay the same. Roy Williams at one point said that folks are basically crazy to think that Hansbrough will not be able to do certain things like hit three pointers because he possess such a determination to succeed, he will work until he accomplishes his goals or die trying. NBA scouts know they will at least get a guy who will give the fullest measure of himself to the game. With effort like that, NBA teams will in no way feel they are not getting their money's worth from a guy who shows up on off days and hours before practice to work on his shot. When you add that to the records, awards and win it becomes very difficult not to consider him someone worth spending a few million dollars on. In his case it is a lesser gamble than others who get guaranteed deals.
On a side not, there is an interesting tidbit from Jay Bilas in the article as is it pertains to players jumping into the draft while they can still be snagged on the basis of potential:
"It's funny to me," Bilas said. "I think what people are saying about upperclassmen (dropping) is, ‘Well, if he would have come out last year, he would have fooled us.' That's what they're saying. People who are advocating kids coming out earlier and earlier are really advocating, ‘Get in there and defraud them while you can.' But some young kids turn out to be the real thing. So you never know."
It is very much a game played by both sides. Sort of a shame Josh McRoberts did not think of that.