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NBA draft decisions loom: Who will stay?


June 16, 2004
Players who have declared for the NBA draft but haven't signed with an agent must make a big decision by Thursday: Should they stay in the draft or pull out and return to college?

Thursday's deadline comes one week before the draft takes place in New York City on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. ESPN's NBA draft preview show is Wednesday, June 23 at 10 p.m. ET.

Ryan Gomes
Ryan Gomes (right) is no longer eyeing the NBA draft. Instead, he'll return to Providence for his senior season.
It was amazing to see so many underclassmen enter the draft in the first place. UNLV's Odartey Blankson and Illinois' Roger Powell have already withdrawn from the draft and opted to return to college. Both clearly made the right decision.

Ryan Gomes also made a great call by pulling out of the draft and returning to Providence. Gomes was one of the premier players in the Big East last season. His game can get better and better next season.

Let's look at a few players who have to determine their future...

Last year, Jameer Nelson decided to withdraw from the draft, and what a decision that was! Everyone on Hawk Hill was happy with his move to return to college as he led Saint Joseph's to an unbeaten regular season and the Elite Eight before that tough loss to Oklahoma State. It was quite a ride for Nelson as he won numerous national player-of-the-year awards.

Hey, Delonte West, do you hear me ... can you follow that pattern? Be like your backcourt buddy Jameer and return to Saint Joseph's for another big-time year under coach Phil Martelli. Mr. West, your stock will go up and up.

Down at Starkville, it would be nice if big man Lawrence Roberts took that big year he had last season and worked on parts of his game for Mississippi State again. Make that 15-foot jump shot and see your stock rise, Mr. Roberts! What a factor you'd be in the SEC next season. More importantly, go enjoy yourself day in and day out.

And Brandon Bass, you'd be better off with another season at LSU playing under coach John Brady. Enjoy a super soph season.

Players develop by being on the court, not by sitting on the pine even though they're getting paid.

Too many players in the past have made bad decisions. Yes, they wanted to test the market, and ego sometimes got in the way. People evaluate and say these kids can play at the next level. The problem is that with the number of underclassmen declaring for the draft, there aren't nearly enough guaranteed first-round contracts to go around. The influx of high schoolers expected to go in the first round also takes away draft positions from college underclassmen.

So a number of these youngsters would be better off playing another season on the collegiate level. Let's hope they make the right decisions.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he has been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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