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Sunday, April 18, 2010

NBA defection may help Memphis

NBC Sports Beyond The Arc
Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:37 AM

It’ll sound a little odd, but Josh Pastner’s recruiting may have gotten a boost from Elliot Williams entering the NBA draft.

Williams, Memphis’ leading scorer this season, is a first round lock. And that’s crucial when it comes to Pastner selling his program to other would-be NBA hopefuls, writes Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commerical Appeal.

After all, how many 32-year-old coaches can claim they developed an NBA player?

Not that Pastner needed a lot of help. He secured the top class for 2010 – three five-star players and seven overall committed to the Tigers – and figures to have even more recruits signing up in coming years.

But it’s an important edge when it comes to retaining local talent and vying against the state’s other destinations, like Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. Dan breaks it down beautifully here:

It's pretty easy to envision Pastner and his coaching staff contrasting the way they handled Williams with the way Bruce Pearl and his staff have handled guys like Tyler Smith and Scotty Hopson. Smith would have undoubtedly been drafted after the 2007-08 season - his first at UT after transferring from Iowa - and possibly in the first round. He was convinced to return to Knoxville and saw his draft stock crater the following year, forcing him to come back as a senior. The story ended badly when he was kicked out of school for an off-court incident last December and is now in Turkey, unlikely to make it to the NBA. Hopson and Williams were both McDonald's All-Americans in 2008, but Hopson was universally considered the better prospect, ranked seven spots ahead of Williams by and 11 spots ahead by Now, as Williams heads to the NBA, Hopson heads back to Tennessee for a junior season, his reputation diminished severely by two mediocre seasons in Knoxville.

It’s not like Pearl’s hurting in recruiting or acclaim – his Volunteers did just reach the Elite Eight – but when it comes to recruiting, everything matters. Especially sending guys to the NBA.