As most everyone knows by now, Devin Ebanks, arguably the most heralded recruit signed by West Virginia in my lifetime, has signed with an agent and officially entered the 2010 NBA Draft.
This is certainly a blow to WVU's prospects next year, I think it's disingenuous to take that into account when evaluating this type of decision. You have to look at it solely from a perspective of what's best for Devin. And while I won't blame Ebanks for seeing dollar signs and leaving early, in the end, I just don't think it was the best decision for his basketball career. Here's why...
- His game certainly isn't ready. Ebanks is good, but he's not that good, at least not yet. Another year at the college level would have allowed him to add muscle, maturity, and a star quality to his game. This year, it was almost always the Da'sean Butler show. Next year? It would have been Ebanks' team. That's a powerful piece of the progression puzzle (and great alliteration) for a potential NBA star.
- Why sacrifice long term wealth for short term riches? This is my biggest problem with early jumps to the NBA -- they look too short-term. I understand that for many players, being guaranteed a million dollars will be a huge boost to family. But if one stayed in school, worked on their game while getting consistent minutes (something Ebanks surely won't get in the NBA), they could better suit their game for a long NBA career, instead of just a rookie contract. Ask Joe Alexander if one more year of seasoning would be worth the possibility of injury or lower draft status. I think he would come back if given the chance to do it over again.
- The draft pool is much too deep this year. With the possible lockout and changes to the rookie level salary cap, everyone and their brother has declared eligible for this draft. That's going to make it very hard for someone like Ebanks, who has plenty of upside, to stand out significantly to NBA scouts and GMs. He's good, and he could be great, but that's a dime-a-dozen this year, considering most prospects are raw and, unfortunately, equally or more talented than Devin.
While I believe everything written above to be true, I definitely hope that I am wrong. One big knock on West Virginia athletics, whether it be basketball or football, is that we don't put players in the pros. Alexander was drafted and quickly dropped off the radar. Slaton might be doing the same thing. We need sustained success from players to truly put WVU on the map in recruiting. If Devin can do that now, more power to him. I just think another year would increase his chances. Good luck, and thanks for the past two years.