Only a week has passed since the conclusion of the Final Four. The Horns have managed to retain Rick Barnes but have lost Lamarcus Aldridge to the NBA. We know that we will definitely return contributing players AJ Abrams and Mike Williams and will likely return subs Connor Atchley, JD Lewis, and Craig Winder. I say likely because of the strength of our incoming freshman class. None of the aforementioned subs played significant minutes for Texas this past season. With a nationally ranked class of at least six players arriving in the fall, it is unlikely Atchley, Lewis, or Winder will receive any more minutes next season. I wouldn't be shocked to see Lewis or Winder transfer this off-season. Our incoming class is that good. Kevin Durant and DJ Augustin were McDonald's All Americans and are ready to contribute now. The other four players will also be asked to contribute to a lesser degree depending on the answers to three questions.
- Will PJ Tucker turn pro?
- Will Daniel Gibson turn pro?
- Will South Oak Cliff star and McDonald's All American Darrell Arthur chose Texas?
I expect PJ to declare for the NBA draft soon. I have no inside information and am only operating on a hunch. NBA Draft.net lists Tucker as already declared. As written before, PJ is the reigning Big 12 player of the year. He is projected by most mock draft boards to be a late first round to early second round pick. He won't be securing the guaranteed millions Aldridge will but should be able to make an NBA team.
His stock is extremely high right now. I actually think he could hurt his stock by coming back. If he returns to Texas, Tucker will start at power forward. Mike Williams is the favorite to start at center and Durant will almost certainly start at the small forward wing spot. Tucker is too short to play on the low blocks in the pros. If he were to return for his senior year, his post moves would improve but he would rarely be able to show scouts his small forward skills. Durant could easily lead the team in minutes next season. He is going to be that good. Also, based on last year's academic problems, it is unlikely that Tucker is in love with school. Why not declare, work his butt off for the next two months, and cash in? I don't see his stock rising by returning. The more I think about it the more convinced I am that we have seen the last of PJ Tucker at Texas.
Next, Daniel Gibson. Gibson is not as adored by NBA scouts as Tucker is. DGib is projected as a second round pick on some draft boards and not even projected to be drafted on others. Most of those are assuming that he returns to Texas. If he were to declare, he would likely get drafted in the second round or at least be able to play in the NBDL next season. I know he has said he expects to return and his dad said the other night that he expects his son to return but other reports state he hasn't made up his mind.
At 6'2", Gibson faces the same problem Tucker does. If Daniel makes the NBA, he must play point guard. But if he returns to Texas, Gibson will be the starting shooting guard. AJ Abrams returns to run the point and DJ Augustin joins the team as one of the top five high school point guards in the country. There doesn't appear to be any minutes for Gibson at point. So, does Gibson follow Aldridge and maybe Tucker out the door to the NBA? I don't think so but won't be shocked if he does so.
Last, Darrell Arthur. Arthur can sign a national letter of intent as early as today. The spring signing period begins April 12th. Reports indicate Arthur still hasn't made up his mind about college. After searching, I have not been able to find one negative comment about Arthur. This is not a case of a high school stud stringing along pursuers (see Ryan Perrilloux). Rob Harrington of USA Today writes "I don't know if any player in the senior class has brought a smile to my face more during interviews than Darrell Arthur. He's about as detached emotionally from the scene as he could be, and in many ways I think that's great. He won't be swayed into making an impulse decision."
This is the case of a mature high school athlete simply taking his time. The Dallas Morning News reports Arthur, nicknamed "Slim Shady", will lean heavily on his mother and his grandmother before making a decision. His mother's name is tattooed on his shoulder and his grandmother's on his wrist.
Arthur led his South Oak Cliff squad to back to back 4A state titles. He was named MVP of the state tournament both years. Arthur is a 6'9" 215 lb power forward. Slim Shady averaged 27 points per game last season but is reported to be the consummate team player. Arthur is a beast on the boards and a dedicated defensive player. He relied on his consistent outside shot for scoring in high school and will need to bulk up to score inside more effectively at the college level. His athleticism is off the charts. Arthur is considered one of the elite players in this class who would have probably jumped to the NBA before the rule change last year. If Tucker leaves and Arthur comes to Texas, Barnes will probably start Arthur and Durant from game one.
From the beginning of his recruitment, Arthur has always wanted to stay close to home. Baylor, SMU, and Oklahoma were early candidates. Some reports indicate Arthur has even considered A&M. Most reports lately have indicated Arthur will sign with either Kansas or Texas with Arizona making a late push. Arthur's mom indicated a preference for Kansas or Texas just a few weeks ago. Whoever he signs with will be instantly better. Arthur would transform the Horns, Jayhawks, or Wildcats into national title contenders.
The deadline for Tucker and / or Gibson to declare is April 29th. Players can return to college if they don't hire an agent but must remove their names from consideration by June 18th. The NBA draft is June 28th.
The dream scenario is for Tucker and Gibson to say and also to land Arthur. This is a real long shot. However, most think Arthur is waiting for NBA declarations before signing with anyone. Kansas had an outstanding freshman class. None have declared for the NBA so far but Brandon Rush and Julian Wright still could. Arthur is a stud but would compete for playing time in Lawrence if both those players return. He would more than likely start at Arizona and Texas (if Tucker leaves) and certainly at Baylor. His decision is very intriguing. How close is close to home? Waco? Lawrence? Austin? Does he want to play with experience players (Kansas and Arizona) or instantly be expected to be a team leader (Texas and Baylor)? Look for an announcement from Slim Shaddy within the next two weeks.