Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Go D.J.

Darryl Gerard Augustin Jr., listen to me. Do NOT go to the NBA. Bring your 6’0, 180lb frame back into the Erwin Center this instant and get ready for your Junior season. Unpack your uncanny passing ability, the ease in which you glide to the basket, and your defensive prowess and stay a while; well at least one more year. Stop giving “farewell-like” hugs to Damion and Connor. Stop telling ol’ Rick that you’re still deciding what is best for your future. Don’t listen to anyone who works for the Miami Heat, Seattle Supersonics, Milwaukee Bucks, or New York Knicks. Just because you are more talented than their point guards, does not mean it’s your time to go. D.J., in short what I am trying to say is just sit down and stay a while. The NBA can wait.

After an Elite Eight embarrassment against the Memphis Tigers, the biggest question facing the Horns basketball program is no longer how to contain Derrick Rose, but instead its how to RETAIN D.J. Augustin. With the institution of the NBA’s one year in college rule and the subsequent rise of underclassmen declaring for the draft, the best recruiting jobs no longer center around obtaining the high profile freshmen, but instead retaining the high profile underclassmen that you are already building around. And with such high profile underclassmen like Rose, O.J. Mayo, and Michael Beasley almost certainly declaring for this season’s NBA draft, the best recruiting job in the nation may be up to Rick Barnes and his best attempt at keeping D.J. Augustin.

If D.J. were to return, it would undoubtedly give Texas another Top 10 team and conventional wisdom and a look back at recent history would offer enough evidence to label them as a front runner for the 2009 Final Four. If you look at teams like Billy Donovan’s upperclassmen laden Florida Gators who won back-to-back National Championships you can see that experience and depth by far trump the talents of green, edgy, pressured, one-and-done freshmen phenoms.

Just consider the stud freshmen of 2008 who were looked upon to change the face of a program: Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, Jerryd Bayless, & Deandre Jordan were all enjoying the Sweet Sixteen from their apartment couches. The two notable freshmen who advanced to the Final Four, Derrick Rose of Memphis and Kevin Love of UCLA, are luckily surrounded by experience, maturity, and upperclassmen depth. Along with the Tigers and Bruins, the two other remaining teams, Kansas and UNC, follow the same deep, experienced mold. If Augustin returns to the Forty Acres, he gives the Horns that same dynamic.

Not only would the decision to stay benefit Coach Barnes, the team, and the fans, but it would be best served for D.J. as well. The need for average, undersized guards in the NBA is very small and at a generous 5’11”, 180lbs, Augustin definitely has room for his game to grow. His passing ability is on point, but his inconsistent shooting and suspect defensive play stand between him and the lottery. A projected late first round draft pick in this years NBA draft, D.J. could mover further into the lottery by giving NBA scouts one more brilliant season post Durant. If he can successfully put together another 20-and-6 a night season, continue to manage the floor, and lead the Horns into another deep tournament run, NBA scouts could be looking at the next Deron Williams or better yet Chris Paul.

You also have to believe that an Academic All-American like Augustin strongly believes in a quality education. With a 3.8 GPA, it’s assumable that Augustin would plan on finishing his degree. This task would prove far simpler if he lacked only one year of coursework; just ask ol VY. So coming back would not only drastically improve his draft stock, but also take a big chunk out of his degree stock as well. It’s like killing two birds with one big, round, orange, inflatable stone.

D.J., if you are reading this, then heed my advice. Stick around for one more year. Work on that jump shot and that GPA. Show NBA scouts that you really could be Steve Nash reincarnated. Sit still, win another Big XII championship, collect some more hardware, and get Texas that coveted National Championship we long for. The NBA can wait.

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