Eye on the draft: Marcus Smart shoves fan, Jabari Parker shines, Chris Walker arrives
In this eye on the draft, we are going to pay attention to a few specific instances that occurred over the weekend, rather than look at the draft as a whole. There were many positives to take away from a huge weekend in college basketball, but unfortunately a negative story stole the headlines.
Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State/So): Smart is having a better season for the Cowboys than he is getting credit for, simply in terms of his play. He has been a beast, but one of the knocks on Smart has been his temper. However, there was nothing too egregious against Smart in that aspect. . . until Saturday night.
As you have probably seen by now, Smart fell into the crowd getting back on defense late in a game at Texas Tech. When Smart stood up, he did not head back to the court, he went deeper into the crowd and shoved a fan that was heckling him. Obviously it is unacceptable when an athlete enters the audience, we all saw the malice at the palace back in the day. Both Smart and the fan have since apologized for their roles, but Smart received what many see as an appropriate three-game suspension.
The big question: how does this effect Smart's draft stock? Well, it certainly won't help him. Despite filling up the stat sheet, Smart has struggled in his last five games. One of the main reasons Smart returned to school was to work on his three point shooting -- he has shot 5-31 from three in his last five games. The Cowboys are now on a four game loosing streak, and Smart will not be playing in the next three games, not the ideal resume of a top draft choice.
Unless Smart shows a serious change in attitude and finishes the season shooting well, it's safe to say his draft stock has taken a hit. Interestingly enough, Danny Ainge is well known for taking the best player available in the draft. If the Celtics miss out on a top five pick, does Ainge pull the trigger on the talented Smart if he slides? Do you guys think Smart looks #GoodInGreen?
Jabari Parker (Duke/Fr): You know how bad Smart's Saturday night was; now picture the exact opposite and that was Parker's night. Jabari has been on a tear lately. But his season came to a peak in Chestnut Hill on Saturday evening.
With Ainge sitting front row, Parker put up 29 points and 16 rebounds (both career highs) against BC. Parker did so while shooting 12-17 from the field (70.6%) and blocking three shots in 38 minutes. He continues to prove that he is the most NBA ready player in the country as a freshman.
The top pick in June's NBA Draft remains a mystery. But Jabari Parker has done nothing to take his name out of the mix, if anything his performance at BC only helped him.
Chris Walker (Florida/Fr): "Sky Walker", as they call him on campus, had been unable to play all season due to an ongoing NCAA investigation. He made his debut Feb. 4th against Missouri and has played in one more game since. Walker has only played 11 minutes this season, but his NBA potential is obvious when he is on the floor. As odd as that sounds, Walker is a freak athlete at 6 feet 10 inches, and could develop into a star.
As the third best team in the nation, Florida has no reason to mess with their rotation. They have only sprinkled Walker into the mix so far, but it has been productive. In his 11 total minutes, Walker has shot 4-5 from the field for eight points collecting three rebounds and rejecting a pair of shots.
If Florida does not significantly extend Walker's minutes and he still decides to declare for the NBA, "Sky Walker" could become one of the steals of the draft. His top 10 potential could slide into the late teens/early twenties, making Walker a primary candidate for Ainge with the Hawks/Nets pick that Boston owns. Walker could turn into the Jared Sullinger type steal of the 2014 draft if he's there.