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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Top-10 pick, you gotta go'”

    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless congratulates forward Chase Budinger in the Wildcats 67-66 loss to then-No. 7 Stanford in McKale Center on Feb. 16. UA interim head coach Kevin ONeill said if either thinks he has a chance to be top-10 NBA draft pick in June, he should go pro.
    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless congratulates forward Chase Budinger in the Wildcats’ 67-66 loss to then-No. 7 Stanford in McKale Center on Feb. 16. UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill said if either thinks he has a chance to be top-10 NBA draft pick in June, he should go pro.

    It’s a known fact. The Arizona men’s basketball team is propelled by two future NBA players. It’s just unclear how long freshman Jerryd Bayless and sophomore Chase Budinger will remain Wildcats.

    UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill addressed the issue in his weekly press conference yesterday. The former NBA coach said if a player knows for sure he will be an NBA draft lottery pick – one of the top 14 picks – he should make the jump to the NBA.

    “”I think top-10 pick, you gotta go, most of the time,”” O’Neill said.

    O’Neill added that a player of that caliber should follow the almighty dollar when making a decision to stay in the NCAA or go pro.

    “”Let’s say you could be picked eighth and get a $10 million shoe contract,”” he said. “”Or the next year you can be picked second and get a $60 million contract. Those are the kind of things you need to weigh if you are a top-10 pick.””

    O’Neill has seen players raise their stock by adding another year of college to their résumés. When O’Neill was an assistant to Lute Olson in the 1980s, forward Sean

    Elliott considered going to the NBA after his junior year.

    “”He could have gotten picked 17th or 18th,”” O’Neill said.

    Instead, Elliott came back to Arizona and was picked third in the 1989 draft.

    O’Neill said both Budinger and Bayless can get better before June’s draft.

    “”I think both those guys are going to improve considerably over the next year, wherever they’re playing, whether it be here or some other place,”” O’Neill said. “”This is something I’ve told Jerryd right to his face: He really doesn’t have a bona fide left hand. This guy scores 21 a game going right.

    “”Now, when he gets to the (NBA), he is not going right,”” O’Neill added with a laugh. “”They’re not letting him go right.””

    As for Budinger, O’Neill said the forward can develop his in-between game better, work on pull-up jumpers and increase his shooting range.

    Though Draftexpress.com has Bayless pegged as the third pick and Budinger at 10 in its mock draft, O’Neill said, “”99.9 percent of (the people who predict draft picks online) are dudes that wouldn’t know an NBA player if they walked right up to him.

    “”The scouts I’ve talked to have told me (Bayless) is going to be a very high pick,”” O’Neill added, though he wouldn’t say the highest pick he’s heard. “”He’s going to have a decision to make at the end of the year.””

    Bayless said he and O’Neill haven’t talked often about the draft and he doesn’t care what the Internet sites say about him.

    “”My main focus is playing basketball here at the U of A,”” Bayless said. “”It depends how many wins we get. That would definitely help whoever else is on our team out. But I’m not worried about that right now, I’m worried about getting as many wins as possible for the U of A.””

    O’Neill doesn’t see a player’s departure to the NBA as a loss to the team.

    “”If we don’t have enough players (the next year), that’s our fault,”” O’Neill said. “”When you recruit guys like that, you know they could go. …It’s up to (the coaches) to put the team back together next year.””

    Tangara to leave program

    Arizona’s already on track for putting the team back together for next year with four top-tier recruits coming to Tucson in the fall. The Wildcats will possibly lose a total of eight players from the current squad – four seniors, one transfer, maybe Budinger and Bayless and redshirt junior
    Mohamed Tangara.

    The Mali native, who has played five minutes over four games this season, will graduate in May and then try to play at a Division II school or overseas, O’Neill said.

    “”I’m sure he’s not happy with his playing time or particularly happy with me,”” O’Neill said. “”But I like him. He’s a good guy.””

    Added guard Jawann McClellan: “”He’s a good teammate. He’s a funny teammate. He’s been great in and out of the locker room.””

    Wise practicing

    O’Neill said guard Nic Wise did an individual workout Sunday and Monday “”at about half speed, at best.””

    Wise had surgery Feb. 6 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

    O’Neill expects Wise and forward Bret Brielmaier (shoulder) to be back to action for the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament, March 12-15.

    “”When we get Nic back and Bret back then I think we’re one of the best teams in America,”” Bayless said.

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