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Boozer among disappointed underclassmen

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

June 27
It amazes me when young people receive questionable advice. They listen to the chatter of being projected in the first round of the NBA draft. They hear so-called friends putting a positive spin on things, saying that they are a lock to get the gold in the form of a guaranteed contract.

Carlos Boozer was the 35th pick, going in the second round to Cleveland.
This year, there were only 28 first-round picks. That magical pool got smaller with the addition of six international players. Then throw in one high school player and one JUCO player, and the combination of Division I underclassmen and seniors in the first round was just 20.

It hurts me so much to see a number of young men leaving school early and then going in the second round, or not at all. I love kids, I love the college game, and I love the pro game. This situation doesn't help anybody.

Imagine if a player picked in round two went back to college for another season to improve his draft stock. Sure, when everyone analyzes the underclassmen, they will talk about Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Dajuan Wagner. Will they think about some of the guys on my "Why did I leave early" team?

Think about this super seven of underclassmen not taken in round one:

Carlos Boozer, Duke
Roger Mason Jr., Virginia
Jamal Sampson, California
Marcus Taylor, Michigan State
Rod Grizzard, Alabama
Adam Harrington, Auburn
Smush Parker, Fordham

Mason Jr. ended up with the Bulls, where he will compete for playing time with Jay Williams. Don't you think the first-round pick will get the greater opportunity? Yes, Mason Jr. may also see time at the two-guard slot, but wouldn't he have been better off back in college?

Sampson didn't go until pick No. 47 to the Jazz. He played one season with the Golden Bears and could have bulked up more and matured at Cal. Now he will battle for playing time up front.

At least Grizzard, the 39th pick to Washington, will receive tutelage from Michael Jordan!

It is a shame that Taylor had to wait almost four hours to hear his name. He could have gone back to play for Tom Izzo and a Michigan State team that would have been the Big Ten favorite. His stock could have climbed, and he could have been a first-rounder next season. Instead, he went 52nd to Minnesota. The good news is the Timberwolves can use help at the point with Terrell Brandon coming off an injury.

Parker was projected as a late first-rounder by some experts. He, as well as Harrington, did not get selected.

Maybe some underclassmen going in the latter stages of the draft will teach others to stay in school in the future.

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