Fingers Crossed

With the ongoing labor negotiations and a possible lockout on the NBA horizon, there’s a chance that many college stars could forgo the 2011 draft. The Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises writes that Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger could be one of those players:

“He told me from day one he’ll be back for two years,” Matta said Friday night “He said, ‘Draw me up a contract, whatever you want me to do, I’ll sign it.’ With him, his freshman year was as good as I’ve ever seen a freshman have. I think all the things he learned this year, with a great off-season, I have no doubt he’ll be the best player in college basketball.”

It’s that level of confidence from Matta — the coach didn’t have to be that affirmative when asked about Sullinger’s NBA decision — that backs up the freshman of the year’s announcement after the season-ending loss to Kentucky that he will not head to the NBA.

Love this. Now, obviously you can’t bank on Sully staying until we’re past April 24th (the deadline to declare yourself eligible for the draft) but it sure helps the confidence when you see tweets like this, from the New York Times’ Pete Thamel:

Satch Sullinger on his son: “You can etch it in stone. Jared Sullinger will be back at The Ohio State University.”

Me gusta.

Now, as Steve Kubitza at Midwest Sports Fans says, Sullinger’s decision to stay could hurt his draft stock (mostly due to the fact that this is a weak draft).  But at the same time, Sullinger could definitely use the extra work in college to improve his game and post moves.  Yes, he could drop in the draft, but the extra time put in college (post moves! fundamentals!) could help him get multiple NBA contracts down the road (especially since his game will be played below the rim).

Plus, it’s fucking college! Sure, he can make more money right now if he goes pro (though he can always sell some stuff for extra cash, amIrite?) but it’s not like hanging out on Ohio State’s campus for another year will suck.

So basically, if you wanted the Cavs to draft Sully, you’re out of luck.  And sure, you might think that the Cavs should be in a position to draft him again in 2012, but you’d be wrong:

In the midst of another Cavaliers loss this week, Baron Davis turned to Antawn Jamison, as both veteran players were clad in suits on the sideline, and wondered aloud what his coach has been thinking for weeks:

“Can you imagine what this team will be like when we’re healthy?”

It won’t happen this season, as Jamison’s fractured left pinky will keep him out the Cavaliers’ remaining 12 games. But Davis is probable to start his first game for Cleveland today against the Detroit Pistons, finally healthy (enough) from back and knee injuries and returned from a week away from the team to mourn the death of his grandmother.

Davis already has visions of a team next season with him, Jamison and center Anderson Varejao (out with an ankle injury) anchoring a youthful core.

[snip]

The injuries, however, have allowed him to watch the Cavaliers, examine the skill set he will be working with next season.

“Myself, Antawn and ‘Wild Thing’ — once we get all on the court and get in shape, it brings a whole other element to the team,” Davis said. “Now guys can see what we’re doing out there and learn from watching. Antawn is a phenomenal scorer, Varejao is a great team player and complementary player to bring that chemistry together. We’re playing right now, we’re playing hard and we’re in ballgames, and we don’t even have our full staff of players.”

Baron Davis, Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamison?!?!! Be still my heart!

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