Friday, April 24, 2009

Unproven Majok Declares For NBA Draft

He's yet to play an NCAA game, but UConn forward Ater Majok will test the NBA waters as the spring suddenly morphs into summer.

Based on the scintillating weather we've had this weekend, though, summer's apparently here.

The agile, athletically gifted 6-foot-10 forward was projected to form a formidable frontline package featuring projected top-three pick Hasheem Thabeet and muscle-bound workhorse Jeff Adrien this season.

But Majok never passed NCAA clearinghouse rules, and therefore relegated to the role of cheerleader.

According to NCAA regulations, Majok cannot suit up until December of 2009.

His NBA stock remains to be placed on a scale.

Perhaps the 22-year-old freshman wants to get on a court that badly.

Or, the YouTube sensation jumped at the idea of being selected in a draft which--beyond the first 2-3 picks--is as open as the ocean.

Any kid with smooth handle, a moist jumper, and the physically possible capability of making a three-point bucket seems to think they're a surefire shot to hop aboard an NBA team this summer.

Don't get it twisted, though. With Ricky Rubio declaring and other recent moves, it is starting to heat up and get intriguing...

Stephen Curry, the Davidson wunderkind and son of former NBA shootist Dell Curry, will forgoe his senior year at Davidson and take the long NBA green (they call it the "green room" on draft night for a reason...and no, it's not due to the fact that Lamar Odom and Damon Stoudemire burnt a flurry of els there). Curry is projected as a first round pick, according to NBAdraft.net.

Curry's stock might have been even higher had he elected to go last year.

A five-star recruit, the unproven Majok has opted not to hire an agent.

This leaves the door open for Majok's return. If he's not selected on the fateful evening of June 25, 2009.

"After meeting with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to enter the NBA Draft," said Majok in a statement released by UConn.

"I feel it will help me to test the process and get feedback on my strengths and weaknesses. It will allow me to get a better idea of what areas in my game need improvement and make me a better player in the future. I will not be hiring an agent and I enter this process with the full intention of assessing my abilities and returning to Connecticut in 2009-10."

In the unusual occasion that Major is selected, the Huskies will be extremely limited in the frontcourt. Jonathon Mandeldove and Charles "Chuck" Okwandu, both sushi-raw and seldom-used Centers, are the Huskies' lone returning bigs.

Mandeldove has had trouble staying on the floor and Okwandu--the definition of a work in progress--looked soft and offensively inept in the 10 games he saw action in. Okwandu was academically ineligible for the second semester.

Majok was anticipated to join the Huskies before they opened their Big East schedule this year. Calhoun signaled that Majok would be an impact player his freshman year.

After Gavin Edwards erupted for a career-high 17 points in a thrashing of Delaware State, Calhoun lauded his junior forward before a horde of Connecticut media folk.

Calhoun then explained that Edwards may have "a fight on his hands," indicating that Majok was sure to pull some significant minutes and make an impact.

"From what I hear, Ater is a very good player," said Edwards. While Majok never suited up this season, he still made an impact.

Josh Nochimson, the agent who's charged with providing expelled Husky Nate Miles with representation, lodging, and so on is reportedly connected to Majok as well.

An ESPN report states that Nochimson personally got Majok into a high school all-star game, the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville, Ky., last spring.

He provided Majok with transportation and freed up a spot for him with his influence, the report indicates.

Ironic that the two players that UConn bent the rules to reel in have not registered a second in a UConn game this season.

If Majok's NBA hopes pan out, the big neophyte will be the first player in program history to go from UConn to the pros without waiting to become eligible.

L.A. Lakers big man Andrew Bynum committed to UConn in 2005 but decided to go straight to the league. This was before David Stern implemented an earth-scorching rule which prohibits the workaday gifted 18-year-old high school senior from jumping to the league.

"This is an opportunity for Ater to see where he currently fits into what I believe will be a future in professional basketball," explained UConn coach Jim Calhoun.

"I respect that Ater understands that this decision is about more than just him and that he has, and will continue to, involve his immediate family in this process as it goes forward."