Of the 16 players without an agent in the stands that attended this years NBA Draft Combine in the finest city in the United States, four of them are (or, potentially were) members of the world's greatest collegiate basketball conference. While most of the reports that came out of this spectacle weren't the most ringing of endorsements for some of our decorated legends and leaders, a decision still looms in their immediate future: Should they stay or should they go?
Now, I don't really know anything about the personal lives of any of these Big Ten players -- which includes Melo Trimble, Troy Williams, Caleb Swanigan and Nigel Hayes -- and it would be foolish to believe that they are all on the same level mentally, financially, physically or any other "ally" word that is applicable in this situation. Every player feels different pressures from their families, crews, entourages, hanger-ons and communities that will ultimately play a big part in their final decision. And regardless of what they so choose, I would never hate/trash any college player -- let alone a former Big Ten alum -- for jumping to the NBA no matter his projected draft position, in hopes of grabbing life altering money.
This is the world they live in. And as a four year undergraduate that had to take a job almost immediately after graduation to pay for my loan bills, I totally understand the pull to leave early, no matter how poorly their combine performance was.
Now, with all of that said, the reports that came out were absolutely ugly for those four "on the fence" guys.
Let's start with Melo Trimble, who was literally the 2015-16 season long version of Melo Trimble in front of the NBA scouts, GM's and coach's. He was a little shaky, especially in the first 5-on-5 session. Jonathan Givony from DraftExpress said that Trimble didn't "help himself" during those scrimmages and extended workouts. Most reports floating around Twitter echoed the same sentiment; that the Maryland point guard was wildly inconsistent, couldn't finish around the basket (not a shocker) and his long range shot was sporadic (also not a shocker).
Givony also said that if the deadline to make his decision was today, he believed that Trimble would be "running the risk of going undrafted" if he decided to forgo his junior season.
There have been some better mummers coming from Trimble's individual workouts, but in a vacuum, going back to College Park to once again try to raise his draft stock seems like the most logical decision here.
Troy Williams, well, it was all and out a big pile of WOOF. He didn't measure out well at all. He was turning the ball over a ton. He wasn't the athlete (at least during the combine) that many thought he was and he still can't shoot. Yet, many people around the league -- via my research on the interwebs -- believe that Williams will wind up keeping his name in the NBA sorting hat due to uncertainty back at Indiana with the scholarship situation and because some teams are apparently telling him that he could "go in the first round".
Does he stay or go? Do Hoosier fans even want him back? Would Williams just end up taking time away from some of Tom Crean's Top-20 recruiting class that includes in-state guard Grant Gelon and ESPN's 40th ranked player, Curtis Jones?
I suppose we will soon see.
Caleb Swanigan is (unfortunately) another similar story. According to DraftExpress -- via Hammer and Rails -- many believe that Swanigan should go back to school... like as soon as he possibly can... like what is he waiting for?:
The Purdue freshman had a very difficult time making his presence felt at the Combine, as he's undersized for the center position at 6'7 1/2 barefoot, and lacks much in the way of explosiveness to compensate for that. He struggled badly trying to defend on the perimeter, and isn't skilled enough to play the power forward position full time yet. Unless he has his heart set on playing for his hometown Fort Wayne Mad Ants next year, returning to Purdue is certainly his best bet.
With that being said, Swanigan has some individual work outs set up for the rest of this week and is looking for any sort of guarantee from one of those teams. If he gets an inkling that he will be picked in either of the two rounds, people that are close to him believe he will keep his name in the draft.
And last, but certainly not least, Nigel Hayes. He too struggled in both of the Combine scrimmages (going 0-2 in the first contest and 1-3 in the second). He apparently just faded into the hardwood floors, something I'm sure Wisconsin fans are all too familiar with after his propensity to just disappear for long stretches during this past season. The good thing for Badgers fans is that Hayes said as much, noting that he just wasn't able to establish himself either of the two days.
Now there have been reports swirling around the last day or two from The Zone (a CBS Radio Affiliate) that Hayes has decided to come back for his senior season, but the Wisconsin State Journal has disputed that report, stating that Hayes has yet to make up his mind.
But for my Bucky fans out there, when there's smoke, there's often fire in situations like this. And I for one, am so excited that (hopefully) #NigelBack.