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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Dissecting draft chances

When juniors Mike Hall and Pops Mensah-Bonsu declared for the NBA draft two weeks ago, GW basketball fans collectively gasped.

On, a popular Internet message board among the Colonial faithful, many thought it was a prank. Around campus, the players heard students pleading for their return. To some, it was unfathomable that after the most successful Colonials basketball season in years, Hall and Mensah-Bonsu would bolt to the NBA.

Today, the question still remains: what are Hall and Mensah-Bonsu’s chances? Right now, it’s unclear, at least according to one veteran NBA scout who attended GW men’s games this season. It’s too early, he said, to really assess their potential.

“It’s before the draft camps,” said the scout, who requested anonymity. “All I will say right now is that scouts go (to GW games) because there is something to see.”

In the past, the scout added, not nearly as many players declared early. The difference is the loophole that Hall and Mensah-Bonsu could take advantage of: they are allowed to drop out and return to school as long as each does not hire an agent.

“I think it’s good, as long as (GM’s) are honest with them,” the scout said. “It’s something that has changed since the NCAA allows them to do so.”

The landscape of professional recruiting has also changed dramatically in recent years. Now, players from all corners of the globe must be considered.

“(Coming to games is) nothing new, we’ve been doing that for a long time,” the scout said. “It’s evolved to the point where we have to see the high school players and the international players too. It becomes tough.”

In reality, the process of declaring for the draft is nothing fancy. Anyone who wishes to declare for the draft could send a letter to the NBA. Playing experience is not necessary to enter, but is suggested. Erika Ruiz, the NBA representative who is in charge of draft declaration, suggested that if a player lacks experience, it may be a waste of time because not all declarations show up on television.

A player may pull himself out of the draft up to six days before draft day and retain college eligibility. In past years, for example, Charlie Villaneuva and Jameer Nelson have pulled out after attending the pre-draft camps, retained eligibility and played more college ball for before leaving for the pros.

Since the mid-1990s, droves of players have left college early to enter the professional ranks. The draft bug hasn’t bit GW as bad as schools such as the University of Connecticut and the University of Texas. The GW basketball team’s Academic Progress Rate (APR), a new NCAA measure to control athlete retention rates, shows that the Colonials are in the 80th to 90th percentiles in retaining their basketball players.

This year’s duo marks the third and fourth times players have decided to go early to the draft. Yinka Dare was drafted in the first round in 1993 by the New Jersey Nets after only two years at GW. SirValiant Brown left GW after two years in 2001, against the advice of coaches and administrators, and was not drafted.

With the NCAA now allowing players to drop out, GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz, a former member of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, does not see the harm in doing so.

“I think what the hell,” Kvancz said. “I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

There are a few pitfalls to declaring that Hall and Mensah-Bonsu need to steer clear of, Kvancz said. Agents are notorious for whispering in the ears of potential players, encouraging them to sign contracts.

Accepting gifts has also become common, which would strip the player of his eligibility.

“They need to be really careful,” said Kvancz. “If they accept one warm-up or sneaker from anyone, they are done. They can’t come back and play.”

Hall doesn’t seem to be worried about accepting gifts. Right now, basketball is his chief concern.

“I want to see how I measure up against what these people call the elite players in the country,” Hall said. “I’m really focused right now.”

But Hall, who takes pride in his athletics, said there are no guarantees he will stay in the draft. The Chicago native has said that he will drop out if he does not believe his chances of being drafted in the contract-guaranteed first round are good.

“That all depends on how well I play, there’s no guarantee,” he said. “It all depends on what the GMs are saying to me.”, a popular draft prediction site, claims that Hall will go undrafted while Mensah-Bonsu can be a late second-round pick. For the Colonial community, next season’s prospects seem bright if the two stay.

“With the team we have, I would definitely like to be back,” Hall said.

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