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EA Sports Looks at Underclassmen in the NBA Draft

By Bo Light
associate sports editor

If you can't get enough of basketball, then this is the column for you, because this week, there's nothing but basketball! If you can't stand basketball, or are sick to death of it, then perhaps you should just put the paper down now.

Well, the first week of the NBA playoffs is over. Nothing terribly exciting has happened, actually. There haven't been any fights, there haven't been any major upsets, and most importantly, no one has pushed, hit, or head-butted any referees. In short, all we have seen is tough playoff basketball.

Of course, compared to the last month of the regular season, it has been pretty dull. Even if the Bulls are expected to wallop everyone in their path on their way to an NBA title, it is worth watching them, if only to hear interviews with Dennis Rodman. The collected wit and wisdom of the Worm this week included a discourse on Madonna ("she's no acrobat, but she's no dead fish"), and his lack of desire to sleep with his teammates. Thanks Dennis; now we can sleep at night.

It's getting close to lottery time, and as usual, a slew of college underclassmen have declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft. Are any of them ready to move on, or are they foolish for not finishing school? Just for a moment, let's forget the fact that college basketball has become nothing more than a minor league for the NBA; most of these kids aren't getting anything out of their "education" anyway. And let's ignore the fact that they can still decide within 30 days of the draft to re-enter college; no one is going to use that escape clause.

The bare fact is, a lot of these guys simply are not ready to play NBA basketball. The foolish part of their decision is not that they'll have nothing to fall back on at the end of a 12-year career; the foolish part is that they'll have nothing to fall back on three years from now, when they've been labeled "busts" and demoted to the CBA. Do these guys have nothing left to prove in college? How many championships has Allen Iverson won with Georgetown?

Sure, some of the players can probably make the transition. Marcus Camby was the Player of the Year; going to the NBA is probably his best choice. But the younger players, like Iverson and Stephon Marbury, could definitely use the extra time in school. Iverson has been described by NBA scouts as "Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf without a jump shot." Not exactly complimentary.

Considering that a rookie will have to spend most of his time learning his new team's offense, rather than rounding out his game, wouldn't it make sense to spend the extra year in school? Underclassmen thinking of entering the draft should take a cue from John Wallace, a Syracuse senior who decided (against his better judgment, it was said) to stay for his senior year, and spent that year transforming himself from a probable first-round pick into a definite lottery pick.

Trivia Question time

Can you name all the high school players who have entered the NBA draft? Send your answers to easports@the-tech.mit.edu. Winners get tickets to a Celtics playoff game!

Answer to last week's question: the Baltimore Orioles started the 1988 season with 21 straight losses, a major league record.

A total of twelve people sent in the correct answer; congratulations go out to Aaron Tustin '97, who sent in the first answer, thus winning tickets to a sub-par Red Sox game.