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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bayless’ decision a smart one

    Lance Madden - Sports Editor
    Lance Madden – Sports Editor

    Jerryd Bayless’ decision to turn pro was seemingly a no-brainer.

    Declare now, get picked in the top 10 of the NBA Draft and make a few million bucks, plus possible endorsements. Or, wait a year to do the same thing – pending good health, the possibility of a sophomore slump and the competition with incoming guard Brandon Jennings and the like.

    Interim men’s basketball head coach Kevin O’Neill said in February that if you know you’re going to be a top-10 pick, “”you gotta go, most of the time.”” Follow the money – and logic – and go. Tucson thanks you for your services; now get the hell outta here, you stud. Good luck.

    Bayless listened – to O’Neill, to NBA insiders and to his heart.

    The smell of millions can lure almost any 19-year-old, but in Bayless’ case it was more than money. It was the chance of getting to the next level quickly and proving he can play with the big boys. It was the chance of feeding his hunger to be better than any other breathing mammal with two legs. It was the chance of getting to play 82 games per year instead of 30-something. The more basketball, the better.

    Playing for the legendary Lute Olson would no doubt be beneficial, and having a teammate like Jennings could be icing on the cake. The experiences would only make Bayless a better player, but when he’s projected to be anywhere from the No. 3 overall pick to the No. 7 pick, time is money. Literally.

    From the first months Bayless was on campus, strutting around in his McDonald’s All-American shorts, the Tucson community and the world of ESPN knew he was something special. Maybe not LeBron James special. But definitely that-kid’s-gonna-sell-a-whole-‘lotta-No. 0-jerseys special.

    On the court, he showed quickness, athleticism and a pull-up jumper that could get him arrested for breaking the laws of gravity.

    Off the court, Bayless carries himself as an NBA star already. With his three-piece suits, iPhone and superstar grin, he’s the quintessential businessman. He’s ready for a RadioShack commercial and a full-page Got Milk? magazine ad. Maybe a cereal called “”Bayless Bites.”” What campaign wouldn’t want to utilize those chiseled cheekbones, meticulous eyebrows and pearly whites?

    This kid’s ready for his own nickname, too. Something along the lines of Sir Charles, Shaq Diesel or The Answer. I’m thinking Killer B or E-Bay, with “”E”” meaning Entertainment.

    Bayless has already shown a maturity level that’s needed for the next level. He doesn’t play video games, even if he’s portrayed in some of the newer games like EA Sports’ March Madness 2008.

    But that’s not the extent of his grown-up personality.

    Take, for example, the Wildcats’ Jan. 17 loss to Stanford on the road when he went through his infamous “”Shoegate”” incident and was held to nine points. Bayless took the blame for the loss five days later and the next time Arizona played Stanford, Bayless scored 31. It was one of the three consecutive games in which he scored 31 or more points – the only time a Wildcat has done that.

    So we know he can adapt to change. But how much will he improve going left with the ball? As a 6-foot-3 combo guard, will he be big enough to guard the NBA’s combos? Will he be able to draw fouls from NBA referees like he did in college?

    These questions all remain to be seen, along with how Bayless will fare June 26 in New York City.

    Here’s to hoping E-Bay can strike a good deal.


    Lance Madden is a journalism sophomore.
    He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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