The college basketball scene has seen this story too many times. Scratch that, the basketball world has seen this story too many times. The mystery surrounding Baylor, Connecticut and Illinois makes us wonder one thing: What is going on? These three teams all have one thing in common – one very talented big man. Perry Jones (Baylor), Andre Drummond (UConn) and Meyers Leonard (Illinois) all seem incapable of consistently leading their team to success.
Baylor has dropped three of their last five games despite having one of the most athletic rosters in America. In those last three losses, Jones has had five or less points.
Andre Drummond is also failing to succeed. When you watch Drummond, sometimes you wonder whether he really wants to be out on the court. His UConn squad (it’s not even really his team, it is the team he plays for) is struggling to stay afloat and required heroics from Shabazz Napier to beat Villanova in overtime last game. They appear to be on the outside looking in for March Madness.
Meyers Leonard and Illinois have dropped six games in a row and are lucky to even be on the bubble watch. Leonard has not been terrible as of late, but he’s been far from consistent. His stat lines look like a Six Flags attraction ride.
All three have struggled this season yet all three have so much potential to be great players. They all pass the look test and when you see them move out on the court, you can see why scouts fall in love with them.
The scenario for all three of these big men brings up a bigger picture question. Why aren’t they capable of pushing their teams up to their potential?
Perhaps these three players simply aren’t as good as fans initially thought. Each has received a good deal of hype, whether it was from their high school days or by NBA Draft ranking sites. However, watching them brings up question marks.
ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep wrote a blog on Perry Jones a few weeks ago, saying he’s not the player most expect him to be.
Throughout Jones’ basketball career — at least since high school — he’s been the kid with the expectations. Every now and then he’d hang 25 and 10 blocks in an AAU game just to let you know he was capable of doing it. However, he never struck me as a guy who was committed to doing it each time out or even wanted to do it at that level. I’ve always believed that his personality was that of a supporting actor, not a leading man.
Telep makes a great point about Jones’ personality. He does not have a killer mentality. Kevin Garnett has all of the same tools as Jones but when you watch Garnett play, you see that superstar DNA and intangibles immediately. That side of Jones has yet to be seen.
Fans and critics should try to ease on the criticism of all three of these guys. The expectations set upon each are nearly impossible to reach. None of these guys are likely to push their squads deep in March or be the face of an NBA franchise. The viewers have to adjust expectations and look at what they are right now and not what they could be. It is frustrating to us mere humans to see a player standing at 6-11 with all of the tools of an NBA player struggle on the college basketball scene, but none of these guys are quite at the point in their development where they are capable of accomplishing much.
We know that an NBA team is going to take a chance on each of these guys and it is likely going to be pretty high in the draft. It is also quite possible that all three will be labeled “busts” because of the high expectations following them.
At this point, the best thing for Jones, Drummond and Leonard would be for their draft stock to fall. Just look at DeAndre Jordan. He had a great deal of hype going to Texas A&M and fell to the second round for the Clippers after a mediocre freshman year. Now he is the starting center for a good NBA team. There are numerous factors that helped Jordan get to this point (Chris Paul being traded to Los Angeles certainly did not hurt) and perhaps if Jordan had landed on a different team, he would have been a bust.
At the end of the day, all three have a great deal of potential as well as a plethora of question marks surrounding them. The key when looking at these three is to look at what they are right now, not at what they could be.
Which of these three do you think should go highest in the draft?
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