Last summer we tracked Noel Johnson (6’6″, SF, 2009) as an ACC recruit, but despite looking at several ACC schools, Johnson ultimately committed to Tim Floyd and USC. However, Tim Floyd was found to be guilty of recruiting violations and is now no longer the head coach of the Trojans.
Johnson decided to withdraw his commitment from USC and now has decided on Clemson, giving Oliver Purnell some talent on the wing to help replace K.C. Rivers and Terrence Ogelsby.
Sean May, Raymond Felton & J.J. Redick
A quick note on some former ACC stars, if you watched the NBA Finals a few days ago you know that J.J. Redick has played well but seems to be underutilized by the Magic. However, it is apparent that he’s going to stay in the NBA for now, and I expect the Magic to try and trade JJ and Rafer Alston during the draft.
Meanwhile, two former UNC stars from the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team are seeing their careers continue in different directions. The Charlotte Bobcats have decided not to make a qualifying offer to Sean May, which would make him a restricted free agent. At the same time, Charlotte has made a qualifying offer to Raymond Felton. A qualifying offer is just a starting point, which means that the player can look at other teams but the Charlotte has the first right to match the offer in order to keep the player.
I’m not surprised with Felton, one of the few bright spots for the Bobcats and one of the more underrated starting point guards in the NBA. The Bobcats have never been a serious playoff contender and thus, no one on the Bobcats gets much publicity, not even Gerald Wallace or Emeka Okafor.
With Sean May, it’s all about injury. He’s been injured or dealing with chronic pain for nearly his entire stint in the pros. In three seasons he’s been unable to play even one season’s worth of games. The reality is that the Bobcats still might sign Sean, but the team can’t keep money tied up at the PF spot when they are so thin there. I believe that the move not to offer May is a sign that they want to see what they can get in the draft.
Ah, the NBA draft. One of the most annoying things about the NBA is how much they promote personalities over teams, and it often starts right here on draft day. This year the perennial losing L.A. Clippers are sitting on the number one draft pick, and everyone expects them to take Blake Griffin, a monster PF who should be an impact player. I like Griffin’s game, which involves basically leaping from the half court line and dunking on anyone who gets in his path. The only concern I would have is that when UNC thumped his Oklahoma Sooners in the NCAA tournament, he seemed to have a hard time handling the double team and doesn’t seem to have much mid range game. Still, the NBA is about man-to-man and he is an athletic freak.
I see a lot of mock drafts picking UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet as the number 2 pick, and I’ve got to say I see that as a huge mistake. I’d take Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, James Johnson or Stephen Curry over Thabeet. I think Thabeet is the most overrated player in this year’s draft.
Most underrated player going into the draft? Possibly Tyler Hansbrough. It’s fashionable to hate Hansbrough and claim he’ll be a joke in the pros. Throw all the college awards out the window, because they mean nothing to the NBA, but in Hansbrough, I see a better version of Glenn “Big Baby” Davis or Corliss Williamson. He has developed a better shot than either of those players but he will need to be more of a rebounder in the pros. Charlotte worked out Hansbrough, Gerald Henderson, Steph Curry, K.C. Rivers and Ben McCauley over the past couple of weeks. Charlotte’s roster move with Sean May could make room for Hansbrough at the 13th pick. Most drafts have Tyler going late first round, but it’s probably going to depend on the Bobcats. There aren’t many PF players to pick from this year, and the ‘Cats will have to decide if they want to take the best player available (which could be Brandon Jennings) or draft for need.