Should I Stay or Should I
Every year, thousands of freshmen students decide not to go back to college. Many of them will be encouraged to change their minds and go back, try harder. For a small handful of these students, however, there’s something else out there waiting for them: a million-dollar contract. Would you go back to school if the NBA is driving the Brinks truck to your door?
The Harrison Twins would. Aaron and Andrew Harrison announced last Friday that they’ll be sticking with the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program for their sophomore seasons. And they’re not the only ones who have decided to forgo instant cash for one more year on campus. Let’s look at some of these brave souls and what might be motivating their decisions.
At this time last year, it was widely assumed that the Harrisons would be "one-and-done" players for UK head coach John Calipari. It wasn’t a stellar freshman campaign for Aaron (17.1 PER), nor Andrew (12.5 PER). Even after Kentucky went all the way to the title game at the NCAA Tournament, by the time it was done, Aaron was projected as a possible late-teens pick in the first round, while Andrew was threatening to drop into the second round. Coming back to Lexington gives them a chance to improve their draft stock, secure a higher-paying rookie contract, and play major minutes in the backcourt of a National Championship contender.
Those minutes might not be there for a pair of forwards making their return to Lexington. Willie Cauley-Stein (23.6 PER) and Alex Poythress (16.5 PER) are both coming back for another year. It looks like a smart decision in Poythress’ case, as he was projected to go in the middle of the second round, but why is Cauley-Stein sticking around for his junior season? He was a candidate to go late in the lottery, which would have earned him over $1.5 million a year. Maybe it was the ankle injury that forced him to miss the National Championship Game. Or maybe he really wanted that Kentucky fan to keep his promise and get a tattoo of Cauley-Stein’s face on his leg. Which he did.
The Florida Gators were the No. 1 team in the nation for almost the whole season, and Walker was second on that team with a 23.1 PER. One problem: He only played 87 minutes in total. The NCAA didn’t clear Walker for action until February, due to a combination of poor academics and eligibility concerns surrounding improper benefits – including airfare and accommodations for members of his posse (on nine separate occasions). At least Walker knows he’ll be fed when he returns to Gainesville. He should also get plenty of minutes in the frontcourt with the departure of seniors Patric Young (22.1 PER) and Will Yeguete (12.6 PER).
Here’s one of the most interesting decisions we’ve seen this spring: Montrezl Harrell (25.7 PER) is coming off an outstanding sophomore campaign with the Louisville Cardinals. It was almost certain that he would be selected in the first round, with a chance of making it into the lottery. Instead, Harrell passed up the NBA for one more year playing for Rick Pitino. In theory, he can improve his stock and make it into the Top 10 next year, when the draft won’t be quite so top-heavy with blue-chip prospects. Harrell is risking all that up-front money, and it’s a big risk for someone whose family is from rural North Carolina. Pitino’s definitely happy to have Harrell back; this should put the Cardinals back into the preseason Top 25 and make them an NCAAB betting mainstay for at least one more year.