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Chad Ford: Davis Should Come Back

I absolutely agree.

ESPN's NBA columnist Chad Ford discusses whose performances in the NCAA Tournament helped or hurt them.

Ed Davis, F, North Carolina
Davis played just 14 minutes in the championship game, and his 11 points and 8 rebounds weren't spectacular, but he was the best draft prospect on the floor in the Final Four. Long, athletic and very active around the basket on both ends of the floor, he's a game-changer.

Roy Williams has been trying to hide Davis all season, but the secret is out. Most NBA executives talk about him as a potential top-five pick this year and a potential No. 1 pick in 2010. In a draft that lacks big men with lots of upside, most GMs would be willing to gamble on Davis now. Yes, he needs a lot of work. He needs to get much stronger. He needs to polish his offense. And he absolutely needs to return to the Tar Heels for his sophomore season. But if he declares, GMs will go crazy over him. Remember the frenzy over Marvin Williams in 2005, another UNC freshman who played a sixth-man role? It could happen again.

I would again point out that the problem here is not Davis' or anyone else's willingness to take the money but the fact GMs draft on potential. Like Brandan Wright, Davis could absolutely use another season.  Davis runs the risk of having to grow up to much on the job versus taking advantage working on his game while playing for a program that plays an uptempo style and has an incredible strength and conditioning coach. Still, if the money is there then the risk of injury or a possible drop in stock might cause Davis to give jumping now serious though.

Ford goes on to say that Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington helped themselves tremndously.  I tend to think the way Lawson has played since the 0-2 ACC start helped him, especially the FSU and Duke games. Lawson became the kind of PG who can either manage the offense or completely take over the game if necessary with the biggest improvement being his 47% three point shooting. Ellington struggled with his shot earlier in the season but had a major breakout game versus Miami with seven threes in the 2nd half.  After that his shot fell often and besides that he got extremely aggressive in creating his own shot. The knock on Ellington had been he was a shooter not a scorer.  Now, that criticism has been largely resolved.

The surprising part of Ford's analysis was that Hansbrough was actually hurt by his performance in this NCAA Tournament:

Hansbrough had a solid Final Four weekend -- 18 and 11 versus Villanova, and 18 and 7 versus Michigan State. But as we mentioned last week, just because he is a winner and a tough-as-nails college player doesn't make him a great NBA prospect.

The more scouts watch tape with Hansbrough against elite prospects like Blake Griffin, the more Hansbrough's stock will slide.

I really do not think Hansbrough's stock will slide much, if any at all.  Every NBA GM knows what you are getting with Hansbrough and taking one game versus Blake Griffin does not strike me as enough to change his fortunes.  Hansbrough sat with some foul trouble in that game and if NBA execs did not know Hansbrough struggled against taller/more athletic big men, then they have not been paying attention. Hansbrough has shown an extended range on his shot and the fact he still works harder than anyone else will snag him a slot late in the first round.