Draft Dodger No More

High school basketball stud LaMarcus Aldridge shuns college to enterNBA draft

When we ran our cover story on LaMarcus Aldridge ("He Wants to Be a Millionaire," April 29), it seemed as though the Seagoville High School basketball stud had finally made up his mind. After flirting with entering the NBA draft, the 7-foot 18-year-old signed a letter of intent to play next season for the University of Texas. Along with fellow prized recruits Daniel Gibson and Mike Williams, Aldridge was joining an already talented UT squad. Visions of national championships started dancing in coach Rick Barnes' head.

Not so fast. Over the weekend, Aldridge decided to enter the draft after all. He isn't going to hire an agent, thereby preserving his college eligibility, and he's said that he still plans to attend UT next year. To which we say: Yeah, right.

Word is, Aldridge will stay in the draft only if it looks like he'll be a surefire lottery pick. (For the uninitiated, that means somewhere in the top 15.) There's no chance of that happening, especially since he doesn't expect to attend any of the pre-draft camps, relying instead on individual workouts to prove his worth. No one will take a chance on him that high based on how he shoots and rebounds in an empty gym.

But even though the lottery is where the real money is, the few million Aldridge will be guaranteed if he's selected anywhere in the first round is not too shabby--not to a kid living with his mom in an apartment in the sticks outside Dallas. And he's a first-round lock if he stays in: There are more than a few teams that will risk a late pick on a kid with plenty of potential that they don't need to contribute for a few years. It's hard to believe Aldridge will shut that door now that he's cracked it open. You try turning down several million dollars. Aldridge has already done it once. (To those of you who think Aldridge would be a fool, because a college education is priceless, allow Buzz to point out: A) We're talking about UT here; B) No one's ever offered you millions not to go to school; and C) Three words: "liberal arts major.")

Take the money and run, son.

But after Aldridge decided to sign with UT, one NBA scout applauded the move.

"It should be good for him," he said. "He needs to get stronger. You know, he doesn't have great post moves right now. So he's got a year or two--or however long he decides to stay--to develop all that stuff. I think he's doing the right thing."

Then he added, "I just hope someone doesn't get in his head between now and then and convince him to go into the draft." Oops.

 
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