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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Will Jennings’ move to Europe negatively affect Arizona?

    Pro: The stage is yours, Nic Wise

    By Lance Madden

    Brandon Jennings was supposed to be the savior of Arizona basketball. Not quite the savior that Jesus was, but significant enough to pull the Wildcats out of their dazed and confused state following a season-long leave of absence from head coach Lute Olson, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame who could get his 800th career win next season.

    He was supposed to be the perfect compliment to forward Chase Budinger, who tested the NBA draft waters and was convinced to come back. Jennings was supposed to be a secondary means, along with guard Nic Wise – who was also convinced to return following months of contemplating a possible transfer – to get Budinger the ball, something Jennings did well when he played with Budinger and recently drafted Kevin Love in the AAU circuit.

    Instead, it will forever be said that Jennings could have done these things.

    It was just more than a year ago when Jennings first played at Arizona in the Arizona Cactus Classic. He showed he was quick, he could dunk like a beast, he had 3-point range already and he was an assists machine on the floors of McKale Center and Bear Down gym.

    “”When you think of Arizona, you think of the great point guards to come out of there,”” Jennings told me in McKale before he committed to the UA. “”The top three point guards in the league went here – Gilbert Arenas, Mike Bibby and Jason Terry – and they like to play my style of basketball, up and down.””

    But Jennings will never be one of the greats to don the cardinal and navy at Point Guard U. Instead, he’ll always be remembered as a predictable player on the court, but most certainly unpredictable off the court.

    Jennings once committed to play for USC, then backed out before committing to play for Arizona. He once told ESPN that former UA guard Jerryd Bayless told him he would stay for his sophomore year so the two guards could play together in 2009. And yes, he said he’d be a Wildcat.

    My, how times change.

    Jennings will make a significant amount of money in Europe and probably get a shoe deal but his NBA draft stock is sure to drop and he won’t be coached as well as he would at Arizona.

    As for the Wildcats? All eyes are on Wise now.

    No pressure.

    Con: Jennings’ departure’s better for the team

    By Bryan Roy

    Adios, au revoir and hasta la vista.

    Whichever language Brandon Jennings chooses to pursue overseas, it’s clear what his intentions were in English: The NBA at any cost.

    ‘JenningsGate’ concluded abruptly Tuesday night with the announcement of his choice to ditch Tucson to play professional basketball in Europe for one season before entering the 2009 NBA Draft.

    Maybe the nation’s No. 1 ranked point guard was tired of jumping through hoops with NCAA eligibility requirements. Maybe it was greed of earning a few Euros before the thought of cashing in at Madison Square Garden. Or just maybe, Jennings really didn’t care about getting an education.

    Regardless, in one of the most bizarre storylines in college basketball recruiting history, Jennings’ publicity stunt will never play a minute in McKale Center as a Wildcat.

    And that’s not a bad thing.

    As flashy and glamorous as the big time one-and-done guaranteed recruit looked on paper, Jennings simply wouldn’t translate into wins for the Wildcats – a team in dire need of an identity and unity.

    As a freshman, the Compton, Calif., native would have naturally taken the leadership role based purely on the stats sheet.

    And as a freshman, learning the ropes like all of us did during those two crazy semesters, would Jennings be best suited to lead a team with nothing but dollar signs in his immediate future?

    Each footnote on the whole Tucson-or-Europe debate noted that regardless of his destination, Jennings would be in the NBA by 2009.

    How would that type of character, even after publicly stating interest in Europe regardless of his SAT results, be welcomed as a Wildcat? (Never mind being a team “”leader.””)

    At media day, how would Jennings react to the awkward, “”so, uh, why’d you pick Arizona,”” question? On game day, how would fans react to his first introduction?

    But certainly most important, how would teammates treat Jennings after his public off-season stunt?

    Let’s leave the leadership role to current juniors Nic Wise and Chase Budinger, who have spent enough time in the desert to handle the heat. Now it’s their chance to prove that some prep school big shot can’t make or break a college basketball program.

    Did UA head coach Lute Olson just avoid potential clubhouse cancer?

    Sí, señor.

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