We'll have plenty of time to sit down and evaluate all of the underclassmen draft decisions as the Sunday withdrawal deadline approaches. (Let's be sure to have an Irish wake for the concept of "testing the waters," too.) But the oncoming flood of decision information is already beginning to trickle in, and the two most notable early results mean bad news for Louisville and Georgia Tech and downright surprise for pretty much everybody else.
Those two results? Louisville's Terrence Jennings and Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert are, for reasons of similar validity -- or lack thereof -- staying in the 2011 NBA draft.
Both are considered second-round picks at best. Both are at risk of going undrafted altogether. Both could benefit from another season in college, if only to shore up disconcerting deficiencies that plague both in the eyes of NBA scouts. But both are staying in the draft anyway.
Coincidentally, Jennings's decision comes just one day after ESPN's Chad Ford, writing based on what he hears from NBA scouts and general managers, advised the Louisville forward to go back to school and work on his game for another season. According to those scouts, Jennings' athleticism makes him an interesting prospect, but his inconsistency is scary enough that "there's a good chance he will go undrafted." So why is Jennings making the leap? He told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he believes he can "find a spot" in the league next season:
“Everything is looking on the up and up right now -- nobody has given me reason to pull my name out of the draft this year,” he said. “That was the whole thing, just getting out there and playing in front of a couple of [general managers] and scouts and getting feedback.
“Most of the feedback I had gotten from them was I might be able to find a spot this year.”
I'm not sure that's the sort of feedback that would keep me in the NBA draft -- oh, yeah, you "might be able to find a spot" -- but it was clearly enough for Jennings. Fair enough.
Shumpert, meanwhile, drew a "run back" distinction from Ford Tuesday; his chances of being drafted are even slimmer than Jennings'. So why leave school now? Is Shumpert's decision being spurred by the firing of Paul Hewitt and a lack of desire to start over for new coach Brian Gregory as a senior?
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, not so much. In fact, Shumpert is leaving because he believes he can build on what he considers to be his current status in the top half of the second round -- a generous appraisal, that -- to play his way into the first round of the draft during the upcoming workouts, scrimmages and interviews.
Maybe so. Maybe not. Both cases have a feel of impatience to them, and it's hard to fault a college kid for wanting to go pro as soon as possible. But make no mistake: Both of these decisions count as surprises. You might go so far as to call them "shockers." Your adjective's results may vary.
Either way, both players are taking massive leaps of faith, and at this point, all Louisville and Georgia Tech fans can do is wave goodbye and wish them well.