Wall, Teague and Meeks top list of game's biggest landscape-changers
Eight potential first-round picks have already kept their names out of the NBA draft, the latest being Kentucky's
The power to alter the upcoming season now lies largely in the hands of three players -- we'll call them the landscape-changers -- and here's where they stand:
The past two college hoops offseasons have been defined by the strange doings of point guards in North Carolina: Last year it was
Wall's camp has yet to do any official shrinking of a list that's seven schools deep (Baylor, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Miami, Memphis, N.C. State), but his advisor and former AAU coach,
Clifton, who met with Wall and his mother on Monday night, gave some insight into the schools' respective situations, with the most interesting comments being about Kentucky, which has publicly been considered the front-runner since
"There had to be some assurances made to him about being able to share the ball, that would inspire him to commit despite the possibility of John still coming there. ... So we have to revisit that situation and make sure it's going to be great to have two of the top four point guards on the roster at once."
By revisiting it, Clifton said hopes to talk to Calipari as well as Bledsoe's camp, to see what their expectations are for next season at Kentucky. (Bledsoe
It has been speculated that Duke is Clifton's preferred destination for Wall, in part because of rumors that Clifton hopes to become Wall's agent next season, and Duke would be the place where he'd be best insulated from outside suitors. Clifton denied this to SI.com last month -- "I'll be in John's life in some capacity, but it won't be as his agent," he said -- but Clifton does, definitely, like Duke.
He cited the fact that the Blue Devils had a clear opening at the point-guard spot as a benefit, and said that, of the teams Wall was considering, Duke had the best chance of competing for a national title next season, a fact that he felt should not be taken lightly.
Meanwhile, Miami, which was initially thought to be a darkhorse in the crowded Wall race, is a legitimate option, according to Clifton. He said the wealth of young talent
As for now, Wall is in Raleigh, and in limbo. His decision may not come until after the NCAA's spring signing period, which concludes on May 20. Unlike early entrants into the draft -- like our next two landscape-changers -- mega-recruits have no real deadlines.
Deacon Zero is keeping his options open: Rather than shipping off to a training facility immediately after throwing his name in the draft (a la UCLA's
Wake's status as an elite team hinges on his choice. If Teague stays in school, Wake should contend for the ACC title and be a top-10 team. He and sophomore
The consensus among NBA personnel sources SI.com spoke with is that Teague is a first-round lock if he remains in the 2009 draft pool. While his skills as a distributor seem to be in question, his shooting and driving abilities are not. (He averaged 18.8 points and hit 44.1 percent of his threes last season.) As one source said, "[Teague] has a chance to be a Lottery Pick now. He's in the 10-17 range, but he could still go back to school, prove he can be a pure point guard, and then become a top-10 guy in 2010. Because after
Teague was set to begin workouts this week with
While sophomore teammate
Whether that label sticks will likely determine whether or not Meeks remains in the draft. His father,
Patterson was the player with higher draft stock, but Meeks' decision matters more to the Wildcats' SEC title (and Final Four) hopes: Although they'll have an embarrassment of riches in the post -- in Patterson, a hyper-efficient, 6-9 power forward; 6-9 senior role player
Meeks said he's committed to seeing the draft process through -- he has an invite to the NBA's Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago -- but he's also only 18 credit hours away from a degree, and because his father is an executive at IBM in Atlanta, the family doesn't have pressing money concerns that would push him into an ill-advised decision. "I love playing at Kentucky," Jodie said, "If this doesn't work out, I have no problem coming back. ... and if I'm in the second round, it'll be a no-brainer to go back."