I'm not a huge fan of second-guessing the decisions of 18- or 19-year-old kids. Why? Because I was 18 and 19 not too long ago, and though I considered myself a pretty mature, responsible guy, very few of my life decisions were made with anything resembling certainty. I could be talked into a lot. I get it.
Still, it's hard not to think that Oklahoma's Tommy Mason-Griffin is making a big mistake in deciding to go pro after his freshman season. Mason-Griffin was the Sooners' lone bright spot during his freshman season in Oklahoma; he scored 14.1 points and averaged five assists per game in a season in which the Sooners drastically underperformed. Coach Jeff Capel's other star guard, future lottery pick Willie Warren, spent the entirety of the season either injured or in Capel's doghouse, and Mason-Griffin performed admirably in his stead.
That's all well and good, but the simple facts remain. Is Mason-Griffin a good player? Yes. Is he a future pro? Maybe. Is he at all ready to enter the NBA? No.
NBA scouting types seem to agree. Chad Ford doesn't have Mason-Griffin in his top 100, let alone in the top two rounds of the draft. Draft Express draws a similar conclusion. Heck, Draft Express's last update on Tommy came when his high school recruitment ended. He hasn't even been on their radar. It's never all that much fun to tell a college athlete that his chances of success at the next level are limited, but right now, if Mason-Griffin doesn't improve his draft status in a hurry, he's going to be that guy.
A lot of college hoops fans like to insinuate that it's inherently bad for players to leave before they've completed their degree. They pine for the days of four-year All-Americans, before the days of the high school draft and one-and-dones. The less romantic reality is that it's very difficult to tell a likely lottery pick -- say John Wall, or even someone like Xavier Henry, who is currently weighing his pro future -- that he should stay in school when NBA millions await. The cost of injury is too high. But it's far less difficult to question that decision when it looks like it leads to a dead end. And Mason-Griffin, unfortunately, looks like he's heading toward a dead end.