Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Should Shawn James Go Pro?

One of the questions that surrounds the Duquesne basketball program this season is one that Dukes fans haven't had to deal with in a long time, if ever: should one of their star players leave school early to pursue a career in the NBA? The player in question is 6'10 225 pound Shawn James.

Reasons to go:

  • James is already 24 years old
  • James is one of the NCAA's best shot blockers
  • Boston College's Sean Williams (pictured below) was drafted 17th overall last year by the Nets and is a similar player to Shawn James. Williams was a noted shot blocker in college and measures in at 6'10 235 pounds.

Reasons to stay:

  • James simply isn't big enough or strong enough to play down low in the NBA.
  • James should take his extra year of eligibility and finish his degree, that way if he can't make it in the NBA he has something to fall back on.

Personally I think James should stay at Duquesne, and not just for selfish reasons. Unless a player is guaranteed to be a 1st round draft pick there is no reason to leave school early. 1st round draft picks in the NBA receive 3 year guaranteed contracts, however 2nd round picks do not get guaranteed contracts. In my mind the thought process on a decision to go pro or not is simple: if the word is that you will be a sure first round pick you should go pro, 3 years guaranteed in the NBA should never be turned down. However if you are slotted as a maybe for a late 1st round pick or early 2nd round, why not stay at school for another year to get stronger and work towards your degree at the same time?

One player comes to mind when thinking about awful draft decisions: Chris Taft formerly of Pitt and the Golden State Warriors. Taft had a fantastic freshman season at Pitt, and many felt he had a future in the NBA. Taft regressed as a sophomore and at that time many scouts felt he did not have the work ethic needed to play pro basketball. Taft hired an agent after his sophomore season and went pro. Taft was taken in the 2nd round of the draft by Golden State, and played 17 games there as a rookie without much fanfare. Taft was injured for most of his rookie year and has yet to play another game in the NBA. Golden State waived him in October of 2006.

This was 1 of Taft's 6 career free throw attempts in the NBA

This is one of the clear cases of a player leaving too early for the NBA, failing, and ruining his potential pro career. I would hate to see this happen to Shawn James.


Scoville said...

Guess I'd have to recommend splitting hairs here. Don't hire an agent, but go to the pre-draft camps/team work outs to gauge if/where you are going to get drafted.

Sean Williams being drafted in the first round bodes pretty well for James though. Williams had "character issues," as in, he had a few drug busts, and he was pretty limited offensively. Shawn isn't hampered by either of those.

Shawn will need to get stronger - but I think there is a place for him in the NBA.

But - yeah - I guess ultimately, if he isn't hearing that he'll be a first rounder, he may as well stay in school. Don't hire an agent until you have a really solid feeling that you are a first rounder. (I don't think Chad Ford has him listed as a prospect at all in his draft preview thing - but the announcers mentioned that there were NBA scouts in attendence at the WVU game...)

The Duke said...

I agree James should not hire an agent, but at the very least go to some pre draft camps if he is invited to see how he does against the other NBA calibre college players. If at that time he is a lock for the 1st round then he would hire an agent, otherwise he should come back to Duquesne.

I think there COULD be a place in the NBA if Shawn can get a lot stronger. Just look at that picture of Williams, he looks a lot stronger than James does.

jaygeekray said...

I would love to see James stay for his senior season, but would understand leaving if(and that is a very big IF) he was assured of getting drafted even in the 2nd Round...I disagree with you in that, I believe Chris Taft made the right decision...he was never going to let himself develop or take school seriously and he wanted to help his family out financially...unfortunately he had a career ending back injury and surgery...Without the injury and the right situation - he'd have gotten to the second contract and that is all you need to justify blowing off school...look at Mark Blount (everybody laughed when he left after his soph season and he is still in the NBA with a much lesser skill set than Taft had as a Freshman)

The Duke said...

For every Mark Blount there are 5 Sir Valiant Brown's, guys who left school early and didn't make it for whatever reason and are now stuck in the ABA or worse.

Taft should have stayed and tried to increase his draft stock in his junior or senior season.

James is a lot smarter of a kid, and I am confident he will make the right decision. I also think that Ron Everhart will not let him make the wrong decision.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he needs to get that much stronger, because he plays big, and he reminds me of Marcus Camby with a jumpshot. I would say the decision is his, but putting on weight could potentially be disastrous. Vouyoukas put on weight and he was slower, couldn't move, and scouts lost interest in him after being invited to the Orlando camp his junior year. Justin Williams did the same, and he looks way slower, and immobile. Same for Robert Swift. He bulked to 280, and he looked like a center who was soon out of the league. I think if NBA scouts actually saw James for what he was, he would have a good chance at making the NBA, but everyone is trying to mold him into what he isn't. I mean, for example Ronnie Brewer and Rajon Rondo aren't drafted for their jumpshooting, but they take smarter shots by driving the lane, by finding cutters and open teammates. I don't think he should bulk up to 250 (235 tops at the collegiate level if he can maintain his speed and athleticism), but I do think James has a place in the NBA, it's just up to him. But I think he could add the weight gradually once he is able to get in and get minutes in the league. Just my opinion, though.