We're hearing FR Texas PG Myck Kabongo is leaning toward leaving for the NBA, despite being a likely 2nd rounder according to scouts.— NBADraft.net (@nbadraftnet) March 21, 2012
You may recall NBADraft.net from this time last year, when they were the first to report that Tristan Thompson would be leaving early for the Draft. I, among others, questioned their reporting, but was assured in an email exchange that their source was solid. Events proved them to be correct, of course, and now we have good reason to believe that Texas will lose a freshman to the NBA Draft for the third consecutive year.
Although the Canada / Findlay Prep pipeline has been good to Texas in many ways, if Kabongo does in fact leave after his freshman year, they will also largely have been a frustrating source of productive players for Texas. Avery Bradley left after his freshman year in 2010, both Tristan Thompson and Corey Joseph left after their freshman seasons in 2011, and now Kabongo may be ready to follow in their footsteps.
After the year Kabongo had, one can't help but wonder if this really is a situation where a player would be better off coming back for another year. It's important to remember, though, that by "better off" we're not talking about developmentally. In terms of developing, a player will learn more playing professionally 24/7/365 for a D-League team than he will in the NCAA-limited practice and game action he would receive in college. But a player can be better off returning where the difference between turning pro and another year of college is getting into the first round of the NBA Draft, where contracts are guaranteed. And particularly with a player of Kabongo's raw talent, it's not difficult to imagine a substantially stronger sophomore season elevating his draft stock into or near the lottery. (Edit: Nobis60 makes an additional good point about staying for another year.)
Then again, the NBA drafts on potential, and there may not be another point guard in this year's draft with as much as Kabongo. And his projectable upside may actually decline if he came back and had a so-so sophomore campaign. Then again, that doesn't say much for the potential of his having a great NBA career anyway, and if he believes in himself he might be better off coming back for a second season. It worked out well for DJ Augustin, who played his way comfortably into the first round with his sophomore season. And Kabongo may want to look at how things have gone so far for his Findlay predecessors in making his decision.
At this point, I'm no longer surprised by anyone leaving early, but I'll hold out hope that Kabongo decides to stay. With this report from NBADraft.net, however, I won't be holding my breath.