Tuesday, November 11, 2008

so apparently we weren't done yet

By now, of course, the secret is long since out. We all thought Dave Leitao was done with the '09 recruiting class and had no more scholarships to offer; we all thought wrong. As I'm sure you know already, top-ten prospect PF Renardo Sidney will be in Charlottesville this weekend to watch the opening of the season against VMI. Sidney is expected either to serve his one required year in the college ranks, and then head to the League, or follow Brandon Jennings over to Europe to start getting paid right away.

UVA fans would be best served operating under the assumption that we will never have Sidney, and that any seasons he spends in orange and blue are a bonus. This is not to say abandon all hope, but 2009 was already looking fairly bright, with the 'Bergs growing up some and Spurlock arriving on Grounds. Last week Sidney was not an option; next week, Sidney may not be an option, and in 2010, he likely won't be an option.

However, if indeed he's looking to make a one-and-done run in college and squeeze as many millions out of his draft status as he can, UVA would be a very logical choice:

- It's the ACC, where the college basketball spotlight shines brightest.
- He'd be surrounded with talent, yet he'd probably be head-and-shoulders above all of it.
- We're already poised for some success in 2009; deserved or not, he'd see the lion's share of credit (or at least, exposure) from any success we have.
- New gym new facilities yada yada yada.

So cross your fingers.

This seems as good a time as any to offer my thoughts on this NBA rule forbidding high schoolers to jump straight into the draft. For some reason, echoes of controversy still linger, and no doubt they'll return in full force if David Stern decides to push for a second year of wait time. As with many such things, I'm strongly opinionated.

- First off, nobody has a right to play in the NBA, no matter how damn talented they are. The moment a writer mentions a "right" to play in the NBA, he loses all credibility. The NBA can bar anyone they damn please as long as their rules for doing so don't run afoul of actual laws. I really don't see why people will accept a minimum age for things like smoking and drinking, but not the NBA. Sudden big-ass piles of wealth are at least as dangerous as tobacco.

- Second, everyone benefits. Everyone. The NBA benefits by having better quality players filter through to the draft. The college sport benefits by getting the stars on campus. Fans get to see the quality of play improve in both leagues. And yes, the players benefit by learning whether or not they're ready for the show, getting time to hone their game against better competition than the pasty white kids from the preppy school across town, coming under the auspices of a father-figure coach for at least one season, and having extra resources available to mature and make better decisions. Can anyone tell me Sebastien Telfair would not have benefited from a year in college?

This article notes that the starting 2 guard in this weekend's exhibition was not Jeff Jones, nor Sylven Landesburg, but Mustapha Farrakhan. While that's interesting enough in and of itself, I think the real lesson to learn is that the combinations this year are in no way set in stone, and we should expect to see Leitao do a lot of experimenting. The team is full of freshmen and sophomores, and juniors that haven't played much (Tat, Meyinsse) and it's unlikely that the rotation against VMI will have much more than a passing resemblance to the one we use in March against Maryland, and not just because the non-conference season is walk-on season.

The ACC soccer tournament begins tomorrow (for us - the 8/9 game between NC State and VT is actually tonight), and I really don't have high hopes. We have Duke in the first round, but what we don't have is Agorsor or Freshman of the Year Tchani. And if we get past Duke, #1 seed Wake awaits. The future is bright for this team with three players on the ACC all-freshman team (Tchani, Shawn Barry, and Brian Ownby), just not the immediate future.

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