Mar 28, 2011, 10:53 AM EDT
There is no worse time to ask a college player about his NBA future than right after his team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. Any player you would actually want to draft should be emotionally crushed because he was invested in the team.
So we enter North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes.
“I’m not thinking about the NBA,” he said, quietly….
“You know, that’s not really something that I’m thinking about. I had the last two seasons end on championships (in high school). The last time I felt like this was my sophomore year. That’s the only thing that’s on my mind right now.”
That’s the right answer. (And we don’t doubt he meant it.) But you can also bet he has thought about the NBA. A lot.
He came into the season atop draft boards, stumbled to start the season and dropped down, but moved back up with his play the second half of the season. He’s not going No. 1 anymore (that’s Kyrie Irving out of Duke) but he is high lottery pick.
Except for that lockout looming out there. It’s going to be interesting to see how the almost certain lockout impacts this draft — if even some of the best players decide to stay in school another year it’s going to make next year a much deeper draft (meaning a player might go lower in the draft next year as opposed to this, even with a year of improvement). Barnes and others have a tough decision ahead of them.
We don’t know where Barnes falls on that yet. But you can bet he has thought about it.