We're a little more than a week away from the NBA Draft so we can expect a barrage of mock drafts from experts like Chad Ford, Jonathan Givony and Tony Mejia between now and then. Most of them will focus on big names. Will the Blazers opt for Greg Oden or Kevin Durant? What will the Hawks do in the thid spot? Who takes a chance on the beautiful soul of Yi Jianlian?
But there are other questions that also demand answers. Which of this year's early-entry candidates should have spent another year in dining halls instead of riding buses in the D-League or trying to figure out public transportation in cities like Manila, Istanbul or Minsk? We've identified six likely candidates for an uneventful draft day followed by a brief tour with a summer league club and then a trip to the basketball hinterlands. That's not to say they won't make an impact on the NBA one day, just ask Bruce Bowen and Ben Wallace if being drafted is a necessary step to a successful NBA career, it just means that they may have been a bit too capricious in their decision to leave the collegiate ranks.
Alleyne's name might be familiar because of his three years as a Kentucky Wildcat. The 7'3" center transfered to Manhattan after the 2005-2006 season and sat out the past year in concordance with NCAA guidelines so it's been a while since he's shown off his skills to NBA scouts in game situations. Not that he was strutting his stuff while in Lexington. He was the tallest player in the SEC but averaged fewer than seven minutes a game while under Tubby Smith's tutelage and posted career averages of two points and a rebound and a half while on the court. He described his game as "poised and lengthy" while with the Wildcats but University professors described his classroom work as "below average" which further hindered his development and hastened his transfer to the Bronx (yes, Manhattan College is in the Bronx). They say you can't teach size, Alleyne proved it. His height is intriguing, everything else about him is kind depressing, though, and that's why he's likely to be left out of the proceedings in his hometown next Thursday.
Brewington is a harder guy to dislike than Alleyne, who squandered every opportunity he had at the college level. He's profoundly deaf but overcame his disability to earn a scholarship to Providence. He turned in an excellent sophomore season and was expected to be a key player for the Friars before butting heads with coach Tim Welsh and leaving for Jerry Falwell's school. Maybe it was Falwell's death that made him decide to try his luck at the next level or perhaps the attitude issues that caused him problems at Providence made things at Liberty untenable; either way Brewington needed another year to prove he was a NBA talent. Given his baggage and disability it's tough to see a team taking a chance on him.
Curry's first claim to fame was losing a chance to play for Roy Williams and North Carolina because he got arrested in high school for selling drugs to an undercover cop. He recovered to score 17 points a game for the Cowboys this season, a disappointing one in Stillwater that ended with a NIT bid. He wasn't invited to the pre-draft scouting camp, though, and was advised by the NBA's advisory committee to return to school for another year which gives a pretty fair assessment at his hopes of selection. At 6'3", 190 pounds he is better suited to the point than to shooting guard but doesn't have much of a background running an offense. He's also a poor defensive player and mediocre shooter which doesn't give teams much incentive to take a chance on him. He could have improved with another year of college, still a possibility assuming he doesn't hire an agent, but at least his high school arrest tells us that he's got other career options to fall back on.
R. Earl Johnson, Clinton Junior College
The first time the name Robert Earl Johnson ever crossed our eyes was when we took a look at the list of early entry candidates for the NBA Draft. He only played 10 games with Clinton and averaged 11 points in those contests, hardly numbers that will set NBA team hearts aflutter. For further analysis we turn to Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline - "I've heard of Robert Johnson and Robert Earl Keen. But I've never heard of Robert Earl Johnson, which probably isn't a good sign."
Kellen Lee, L.A. City College
Another junior college entry, Lee has a more robust profile, on the internet anyway, than Johnson. A report from the 2005 ABCD camp for high schoolers compares him to former Rutgers player Herve Lamizana and he's described as handling the rock and hitting jumpers in an AAU tournament in 2004. Those clippings and fifty bucks will get him in a NBA arena.
There are many things prospective NBA players should have on their resume. Some offensive moves, defensive intensity and willingness to do whatever's necessary to help their teams win a few games for starters. More than seven games of college experience, too. That's all the time Pelton, a JC transfer, spent on the court with the Golden Eagles and he hardly set the world afire during that brief cameo. 7-of-25 from the floor and 12 rebounds are his statistical arguments for inclusion in the NBA. Those stats came in games played during the first half of the 2005-06 season, by the way, and Pelton hasn't been seen in Hattiesburg or anywhere else since then. Look for him in the Finnish League next.