Connect with us

Featured Content

Sons Of Naismith: What If They Didn’t Go Straight To The NBA?

Published

on

A commitment decision by a top high school recruit can be world-changing for both team and player alike. A transcendent college basketball talent, even if he only stays for one year, can take a team from a treacherous fight for relevancy to national championship contender. For an athlete, a decision of where to play and who to be coached by can mean very different routes of development and style of play, which is sure to show itself when they take their game to the professional ranks.

Prior to a rule change in 2005, top talent was faced with a decision between playing college basketball or declaring for the NBA draft directly out of high school. The stars that took the latter option and entered the draft while bypassing college makes for a very interesting hypothetical question for college basketball fanatics like myself: If these players did attend university, where would they be? I decided to investigate for myself and theorize where some of the stars of today’s NBA would have attended university had they decided to take that path.

Amir Johnson

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Class: 2005

Amir Johnson, mostly a shot blocker and rebounder at the NBA level, was drafted 56th overall by Detroit, and his fairly limited offensive skillset throughout his career could lend to the narrative that a year of college development would have served him well. An easy choice would be his hometown UCLA squad, where he would play alongside Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Ryan Hollins. However, I think Johnson would have gone to a different hometown program with more opportunity for minutes, and rebounded Nick Young’s missed threes at the University of Southern California.

Monta Ellis

Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
Class: 2005

Before Golden State nabbed Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they utilized Monta Ellis in the sharpshooter role. A run and gun offensive player in the truest sense, Ellis’ style of play makes it hard to imagine him playing for a lot of the top coaches in college basketball who preach a slower, more methodical way of attacking — and, well, defense. Hometown schools Ole Miss and Mississippi state might have an edge here, but I think Ellis would have looked perfect going to play for coach Rick Barnes at the University of Texas, where he would have formed an electric backcourt with Daniel Gibson while dropping dimes to LaMarcus Aldridge and P.J. Tucker down low.

J.R. Smith

Hometown: Freehold Borough, New Jersey
Class: 2004

Oh, what could have been. J.R. Smith in college basketball was perhaps a level of awesome we were not prepared for as fans and the basketball gods were therefore forced to withhold him from the highest amateur level in the land. I certainly played around with the idea of Swish staying in the northeast and attending Georgetown, following in the footsteps of fellow volume shooter Allen Iverson. However, even though that 2004 Hoyas team boasted Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, they didn’t have the success that would have drawn a contested shot-making prodigy of Smith’s magnitude. Instead, I imagine him as a University of Connecticut Husky, playing alongside Charlie Villanueva and trading fadeaway jump shots with Rudy Gay.

Dwight Howard

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Class: 2004

Considering he went #1 overall and has had a great NBA career, I don’t think anyone is saying Dwight Howard made the wrong choice in declaring for the draft. The consensus best player available, Howard would have had the opportunity to play for any school in the country, perhaps going for the allure of the Duke Blue Devils or Kansas Jayhawks, or looking to play alongside an elite point guard like Rajon Rondo at Kentucky or Chris Paul at Wake Forest. However, after returning to his hometown Atlanta Hawks in free agency, he showed he is the type of guy to stay close to home and play for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, where he would have benefited from playing with an elite backcourt of Will Bynum and Jarrett Jack. This would be a great fit for Howard, assuming they would have a jersey that fit tight enough for Howard’s specifications.

Amare Stoudemire

Hometown: Lake Wales, Florida
Class: 2002

Considering the immediate impact Stoudemire had on the NBA as an 18-year-old, it’s safe to say he would have been the predominant big man in college hoops had he gone to a D1 program. His athleticism would have looked great in the middle of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone at Syracuse, and if he had joined his home state Florida Gators he could might have been able to form the most juxtaposed front court of all time with future Spurs sharpshooter, Matt Bonner. However, after watching him play next to Steve Nash for so many beautiful years in Phoenix, I think it’s fair to say he’ll realize he needs to play next to a top-notch point guard to reach his full potential. That means Point Guard University, otherwise known as the University of Arizona Wildcats. If he went to Tucson,  he would have played with extremely talented point guard Salim Stoudamire, and the Stoudemire-Stoudamire pick and roll would wreak havoc on opposing defenses with broadcasters trying to differentiate the similar-sounding surnames. The Wildcats roster also included Andre Iguodala, Luke Walton, and Channing Frye, so it isn’t far fetched to say Amar’e would be drawn to being a Wildcat.

LeBron James

Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Class: 2003

Considering it was a foregone conclusion LeBron would be headed right to the Association out of high school, we never had much of a chance to think about what college recruitment for LeBron would have looked like. He has spoken about his admiration for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, so playing alongside Luol Deng and J.J. Redick could have been in the cards. Michigan State was an amazing team at the time, and it’s very easy to imagine LeBron and coach Tom Izzo connecting over a mutual love of basketball and football. He could have teamed up with the player of the year, Jameer Nelson, at Saint Joseph’s, where future teammate Delonte West also played. Unfortunately for these other schools, LeBron’s love of hometown Ohio State has been well documented, and he could have seen this as an opportunity to turn his home school around, as the Buckeyes were a meddling 7-9 in the Big Ten conference play the year before he was drafted. And Jim Tressel’s squad wouldn’t have offered any stars for LeBron to join. However, as we all know, LeBron loves his hometown and he loves a challenge, so I have to think he would have gone to Ohio State.

 


Sons Of Naismith is a column on NCAA Basketball from a Canadian perspective.

Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, and others. He loves zone defences, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Eric scribes a column called Sons of Naismith, looking at NCAA basketball from a Canadian perspective.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Below the Hardwood

The Raptors’ Fantasy Draft

Published

on

Below The Hardwood
The Raptors' Fantasy Draft
Below The Hardwood The Raptors' Fantasy Draft

In episode 3, the crew change up the flow while they await the return of the 2019-2020 season and do the first ever BTH Franchise Fantasy Draft! Alan, Dexter and Ryan draft Toronto Raptors players and coaches, choosing from players past and present like Vince Carter, all the way back to Damon Stoudamire.

Think you know who chose the best team? Let us know on social media!

@belowthehardwood Instagram
@pressbasketball on Instagram
@RAHenry Instagram & Twitter
@alanshane on Instagram & @thealanshane on Twitter
@livingmydexlife on Instagram

Continue Reading

Below the Hardwood

Kyrie The Crusader

Published

on

Below The Hardwood
Kyrie The Crusader
Below The Hardwood Kyrie The Crusader

In episode 2, the team gives their thoughts on the crusade led by Kyrie Irving to keep the 19-20 NBA season cancelled amidst the social injustice and Covid-19.  As the league prepares for the return of the season, the crew ponders whether Kyrie and others have a good argument on why continuing the season could be a distraction to bigger issues and if the league does return which teams, players are you looking forward to watching in the new 8 game format.

Don’t forget to follow the team on Instagram and most social media platforms

  • @belowthehardwood
  • @RAHenry
  • @alanshane
  • @livingmydexlife 

Podcast available on Spotify, Apple, Google, and iHeartRadio.

Continue Reading

Below the Hardwood

The COVID Special

Published

on


The Break
USA vs Everybody | Episode 17
The Break USA vs Everybody | Episode 17

For the first time in over 4 years BTH is back to talk the best in the NBA as they always do….

Social distancing style!

In this episode the team, the homies and  the compadres give their takes on “The Last Dance” MJ Doc; who’s really behind it?, the 2020 NBA season; will it return and which players need it bad, who is the season MVP, would be playoff match ups for east and west conference finals and who would have ultimately won the NBA Finals had it not been for the pandemic of Covid-19.

Don’t forget to follow the team on Instagram and most social media platforms

  • @belowthehardwood
  • @RAHenry
  • @alanshane
  • @livingmydexlife

Podcast available on Spotify, Apple, Google, and iHeartRadio.

Continue Reading

Featured Content

Below the Hardwood23 hours ago

The Raptors’ Fantasy Draft

In episode 3, the crew change up the flow while they await the return of the 2019-2020 season and do...

Below the Hardwood4 weeks ago

Kyrie The Crusader

In episode 2, the team gives their thoughts on the crusade led by Kyrie Irving to keep the 19-20 NBA...

Below the Hardwood2 months ago

The COVID Special

For the first time in over 4 years BTH is back to talk the best in the NBA as they...

Featured Article1 year ago

Ride The Wave

Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things...

Featured Content2 years ago

Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

Year 15 of a legacy...

Editorial2 years ago

Something Out of Nothing

It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau....

Featured Content3 years ago

Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is...

Content3 years ago

MELO-dy Cool

Carmelo Anthony has been traded away from the New York Knickerbockers to the Oklahoma City Thunder. You probably knew this...

Featured Content3 years ago

Reloaded Raptors Banking on Young Guns

Masai Ujiri is a smart guy. No matter which conference your team is in, you’re either stuck with the issue...

Featured Content3 years ago

Jamal Murray: Maestro in the Making

It’s been four years since the Denver Nuggets have made the NBA playoffs. The last time the Nuggets were playing...

Press Basketball - The Alternative Basketball Content Creators