Calathes unsure of NBA prospects
Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 12:43 a.m.
As the buzzer sounded on the UF men’s basketball season Tuesday, talk heated up on the future of sophomore guard Nick Calathes.
Calathes, who finished with 10 points and seven assists in the 71-62 loss to Penn State, has deflected questions all season about possibly leaving Florida early for the NBA Draft. That hasn’t stopped some from talking about his readiness for the league.
“I don’t even think it’s about (being ready) any more,” Gator coach Billy Donovan said. “I think the one thing that people don’t understand about the NBA is it’s a league of investments, and you’re making an investment. A lot of times you are making a long-term investment and you are hoping that your investment gets better and better and better.”
NBA executives can’t comment officially on Calathes’ prospects, because league rules prohibit talk on underclassmen, but most agree on his long-term potential off of the record.
“There were concerns at the end of last season about his athletic ability and his ability to finish around the basket,” a Western Conference executive said. “He’s actually improved getting in the lane and making shots. I still think teams are concerned about his athleticism, but at the same time, I don’t know how much his stock will rise if he stays for another year or two. It’s going to come down to him having to decide how much he has to gain by coming back.”
One Eastern Conference executive, who first watched Calathes as a high-school sophomore, says the he’s seen a lot of improvement through the years, but expects his biggest growth to come once he’s a professional.
“He’s a marginal pro right now,” the executive said. “He’s a guy that will get picked late in the first round and come into the league and work on his game. Most players that come into the league today aren’t really ready. It’s a matter of how hard they’ll work once they get here. If he works hard enough, he’ll be O.K.”
For Calathes, the time to decide on his future will happen in the coming weeks, when the sting from the season-ending loss has eased and he can get a better idea of where he could be drafted since only first-round choices in the NBA receive guaranteed contracts.
Draft web sites like NBADraft.Net currently have Calathes tabbed in the 2010 draft, where it’s predicted he’ll be drafted by Cleveland with the No. 30, and final, pick of the first round.
ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford, the network’s basketball version of NFL draft guru Mel Kiper, has Calathes listed as No. 37 in his list of top-100 draft prospects. He currently lists him as a late first- or early second-round pick.
“I’m not really thinking about (the draft) right now,” Calathes said. “When it’s time, I’ll sit down with coach (Donovan) and my family and decide from there. I’m not really thinking about that at all after the loss.”
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