When the 2012 NBA Draft commenced Thursday, three ex-members of the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball program had high hopes of being one of the 60 selections in the two round event. Henry Sims and Jason Clark had personally provided their feelings to HoyaReport.com, while Hollis Thompson's mom did likewise.
Even Hoya head coach John Thompson was hopeful of his past charges' chances: When asked about possible sleepers during NBA TV's Draft Preview, Georgetown's head guy highlighted the 6'8", sweet shooting Thompson, admitting he was "biased", yet the former junior forward "shoots as well as anybody in the country", while also rebounding the ball.
Thompson the coach was more direct when touting Sims, the 6'10" senior center who graduated in May. "We were in pro-production meeting, and I was wondering why Henry wasn't mentioned with all these other guys" supplied Thompson when asked to talk about talented big guys available. He went on to noted Sims "will have a very long NBA career…He's very good at helping himself and then helping others". The coach continued, opining if Sims does sign on as a NBA free agent, that franchise's player personnel staff will highly regarded.
While not saying anything Thursday about Clark, the 6'2" guard also receiving his sheepskin this year, Thompson has been previously effusive about him, frequently labeling him the hardest worker he's ever had, and praising Clark's willingness to do anything necessary for victory - from strapping up defensively to scoring to finding teammates. Rival BIG EAST coaches Mick Cronin (Cincinnati) and Jay Wright (Villanova) have also been quite complimentary to Clark.
Unfortunately, those accolades, past recognition - last season Clark was first team All-BIG EAST, Sims was tagged third team and Thompson landed honorable mention honors - and previous collegiate production, none of the trio was drafted last night.
To be fair, leading up to the draft none was presumed a first round lock, though some thought Thompson could possibly sneak there. He and Sims were widely thought to have a great chance of being selected in the second round, while some thought Clark could also achieve that status. Like every player in the draft (or who play basketball generally), holes exist in their games, as nobody is perfect.
What happened to make them not appealing enough to draft?
Franchise personnel folks are loath to reveal the justifications for their decisions, but prior to the draft Thompson was viewed by some as not being good off the bounce/creating his own shot and only a good athlete. Sims had a good senior year, but was ineffective for the first three, needs to get stronger and at times fades against opponents with comparable size. Though Clark worked hard at ball handling and creating his own shot, he was necessarily a top line dribbler, a necessity for players of his size.
But there are always other reasons, scenarios undergirding the scenario so to speak, and many are centered around money. Take for instance the NBA practice of drafting foreign players under contract internationally, knowing they will not show up that season. The Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio is just such a guy - he's now with the franchise but was drafted in 2009, yet didn't arrive from Spain until 2011. Having four first rounders that year, Minnesota could surely have used his absence, thereby diminishing their salary load.
Following that theme, the Washington Wizards drafted the Czech Republic's Tomas Satoransky yesterday with the draft's 32nd pick - the second pick in the second round, last week. Generally players selected there have a very good chance of making the franchise immediately. Wizard's management has admitted they have no plans of Satoransky sticking this year - club President Ernie Grunfield, per the Washington Post labeled him "A prospect for down the road' partly because he has two years remaining on his Spanish league contract. Ukraine's Oleksiy Pecherov had a similar situation with that franchise, being drafted in 2006 yet not reporting until 2007.
So NBA teams are known to subtly save a buck. In this draft, eight foreign players were taken in the second round, seven between picks 48-57 (mid to late second round selections). Maybe the fact six teams in that range have no roster spot (per a league insider) - meaning for a new player to make a team an existing guy must be traded or his salary absorbed after release - increased the need to 'stash' players. Though it's obviously unknown if the trio of Hoyas would have been selected then, it's hard to argue they couldn't have.
Another factor possibly impacting Sims, Clark and Thompson's non-selection is a dirty little secret; despite NBA league and franchise protestations to the contrary, it's fairly apparent the longer a player stays in school, the more likely he is not believed to be a prime draftee. Just look at Thursday's outcome, where no seniors were drafted in picks 1-15 - in fact only a pair of juniors were selected in that prestigious part of the draft of lottery selections, designated for the league's worst teams. It is here were the prospects believed to have the most potential are chosen.
A third interesting point is the fact seven players invited to the league's pre-draft combine - where 60 players were invited to Chicago to be evaluated physically and mentally - were not drafted. Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims were both part of that group.
The questions surrounding that pair and Clark abound. Did their combine and pre-draft workouts (the trio visited multiple franchised before Thursday) sink draft possibilities? Were they never going to be selected in the first place? Did any get bumped out by selections known not to sign?
One thing is for sure, the NBA Draft's vagaries are unpredictable, and will continue to be so going forward. All players can do is work hard and basically hope they are selected. Nobody can predict what will occur. Case in point is now NBA center Roy Hibbert, who upon entering G'Town in 2006, should have actually redshirted given his physical conditioning and mental toughness. From that ignoble start he went on to be a first round pick and 2011-2012 NBA All Star.
Be sure to check back with HoyaReport.com as Clark, Sims and Thompson are currently being efforted to gauge not only their reaction to not being selected, but learn their immediate plans.
On Premium Court it is revealed Hollis Thompson may not have been that far away from being drafted - a NBA team really liked him.