The NCAA might be the only basketball we get to see for a while (unfortunately). And its world got rocked with a major announcement this weekend. Top recruit Andre Drummond not only committed to Connecticut, he enrolled.
This is a pretty rare occasion.
Drummond is 19 years old and elected to hang back a grade early in high school. However he has enough credits to graduate from high school and (apparently) is eligible to play immediately. This is good news for college basketball fans as Drummond could have probably skipped college altogether and gone straight to the NBA.
This is certainly very good news for NBA scouts -- if there are any left -- who can see him play against college competition. Drummond is projected as one of the top picks in the 2012 Draft.
Drummond's situation resembles the mystery that surrounded draft picks in the early-2000s. He is a high potential player who has only gone up against high school competition. Most people would say that is not exactly cream of the crop. Drummond appeared to have no interest in going to college and using his last year of eligibility before declaring directly for the NBA Draft. The decision to attend and play for Connecticut caught a lot of college basketball people by surprise.
I am sure NBA personnel will be happy to see him go up against the better competition of the NCAA -- especially with the defending national champion Huskies. Adding Drummond has vaulted Connecticut into the upper echelon of teams contending for a national championship. Along with Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis and Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger, the 2012 draft class is top-heavy with power forwards and big men. That is something the NBA, frankly, needs with Dwight Howard patrolling the paint seemingly alone.
Drummond is listed at 6-foot-11 and NBADraft.net compares him to Amar'e Stoudemire. He is already a pretty big guy at 18 (not Dwight Howard big) and has long arms and a lot of athleticism. If you watch the highlights from the Adidas Nations Tournament, you can see he moves like a small forward, but has the post skills of a center. He still has a lot of room for development, obviously at 18.
More interestingly is the competition element. It is a very good thing he decided to go to school because it will help him develop. Not saying that he is a Kwame Brown-type of player (Brown had a lot of problems aside from talent), but it will be good to see Drummond play against college competition under Jim Calhoun's tutelage.
In fact, NBADraft.net's analysis of Drummond wonders if Drummond has the work ethic to become great just because things come so easy to him. And if you look at the video, you can see things do look easy for him. And we know how scouts like what they see rather than what actually is when it comes to athleticism and gait (see: Brandon Roy slipping down draft boards). Going to college will, again, help him develop some of that drive and work ethic, you would hope.
As everyone knows, the NBA Draft -- especially when dealing with guys straight out of high school or freshman -- can be something of a lottery. Nobody knows how players will react when guys are handed money for the first time. You hope Drummond is not one of those players and is more like a Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard who is willing to work to reach the top of the game.
Clearly the talent is there -- he scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Adidas Nations championship game, although Philadelphia high school junior Amile Jefferson scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds -- now the NBA is waiting to see how Drummond puts it all together in his first (and likely only) year in college.
The question Drummond may help the NBA answer is what to do with the league's minimum age requirement. That is a minor issue in the current collective bargaining negotiations. If Drummond pans out, freshman and maybe even high schoolers will be allowed into the Draft. If he does not, it could be another reason to raise the age requirement.