Monday, March 23, 2009

Should Patterson And Meeks Stay Or Go?

Since my most recent posts about the UK Basketball coaching situation, UK fans have been hitting me up about other topics surrounding the program.

Besides "who's going to replace Gillispie," the most frequent question I have been getting lately is about the draft prospects of Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks. I, like most of you, thought both guys were two of the best players in the SEC, if not the entire country.

However, my thoughts are surely biased because Patterson and Meeks play for my beloved alma mater. Plus, I am not a NBA personnel director. Just because a player puts up huge numbers in college, it doesn't necessarily mean that player's game will translate well to the NBA.

So instead of guessing where Patterson and Meeks might go in the NBA draft if they were to leave school early, I decided to do what I always do: go to the experts.

I contacted two NBA front office execs (one from the East and one from the West--both with first round picks this year) and one former NBA player, who works out potential draftees every year prior to the invitational camps and individual team workouts.

And to a man, all three agreed on where both Patterson and Meeks would likely go in the draft.

Patterson is considered to be an undersized power forward by league standards, something he makes up for, however, with his strength and toughness. At best, he is considered to be a late first round draft pick. If he were to leave UK early, he could expect to go anywhere from 20-35.

Meeks has impressed NBA scouts with his shooting range, but they have concerns about his ability to get his own shot. Right now, his value is only as a spot-up shooter, making him at best and early second round pick.

"Meeks is on the radar now and he needs to improve his ability to create his own shot," said one NBA executive.

If Patterson and Meeks both declare for early entry, they will have the chance to hear these assessments first hand during their workouts with individual teams. And it's always important to remember, that one team's lottery pick could be another team's second-round selection.

One other point that underclassmen should always consider when deciding to enter the draft is the strength of that year's draft class compared to next year's. If a player has a better chance of getting drafted in the lottery next season, it would be in his best interest to stay in school. And that seems to be the case for Patterson.

"Patterson has too much competition as his position this year," said one NBA executive.

However, there is one final issue that could affect both players decision to stay at UK for another season. Yes, you guessed it: the coaching situation!

"If Gillispie is still there, they both need to leave. If not, they could wait and see who the new coach is first before declaring," said one NBA executive.

So as you can see, Patterson and Meeks have quite a bit to consider. I just hope they make the best decision for their respective futures, whether that future continues at UK next season or in the NBA.

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