Wednesday night's Yahoo! Sports report on the NCAA's decision to suspend Myck Kabongo for the rest of his sophomore season came with at least one obvious implication, even on a night when Texas finally showed some offensive life against No. 23 North Carolina: The Longhorns would be worse off.
Rick Barnes' team is drastically young, and drastically turnover-prone; it needs Kabongo badly. If he indeed sits out the rest of the season, the Longhorns' chances of rebounding from their early-season funk and making a push in a wide-open Big 12 (save Kansas) are massively decreased.
Another implication: Now we all get to argue about the NCAA again. Is punishing a player for not being entirely truthful in an NCAA investigation -- as was reportedly the case with Kabongo — with a year-long suspension fair? Should the NCAA be more lenient in the micro, and less fixated on agent relationships and endorsements in the macro? Chances are you already have specific beliefs about this, and chances are you have already expressed them.
A less-discussed aspect of Kabongo's suspension is exactly what it does for the point guard's draft value. Adam Zagoria asked NBA scouts, as well as Draft Express's Jonathan Givony, and it isn't good:
“It hurts him big-time,” the scout said. “He played out of control last year. Most teams need to see him play five-on-five, running his team….His stock goes down.”
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express told SNY.tv: “Depends what he decides to do between now and the draft. After his poor freshman season scouts needed to see how much he improves as a sophomore. I don’t think he’s shown enough to be considered a definite first rounder based on upside alone. He’ll have to show more somewhere. Unfortunately I’m not sure the D-League is an option for him because he was already enrolled at Texas.”
I've seen a couple of people write that we shouldn't really feel bad for Kabongo, because he's still going to get a complete scholarship to spend his time in Austin, Texas, which is a deal I'd take in a heartbeat. And that's partially true. This isn't a war crime, or something. But it's pretty clear that Kabongo's reported decision to fly to Cleveland for a workout with NBA agent Rich Paul, and his decision to mislead NCAA investigators, and the NCAA's decision to (as with Dez Bryant) show everyone exactly what happens when you mislead NCAA investigators ... all of that will almost certainly cost Kabongo money.
The good news? The draft is pretty fickle. Maybe by the summer, Kabongo will be so impressive in workouts that he'll be able to get up into the first round, or even the lottery, after all. But that seems like a long shot. And by not playing, scouts and general managers won't be able to give him a surefire answer on his first-round status until he stays in the draft, which involves a much shorter deadline than it used to be.
In other words: Don't be shocked if Kabongo's back for his junior season. You couldn't blame him for wanting to leave the NCAA behind forever. The smart move may be to stay.