Connecticut sophomore forward Rudy Gay and LSU freshman forward Tyrus Thomas both declared for the NBA draft Monday. While the decision for both is the shrewd choice financially speaking, neither player will ever have a tangible impact in the NBA.
Gay was slapped with the perennially annoying "unlimited potential" tag the minute he arrived in Storrs. Yeah, Rudy is a terrific athlete, with freakish talent, but that doesn't make him a great basketball player. J.J Redick can't slap the top of the square on the backboard with his palm, but you know what? J.J can shoot the eyes of the basketball. And for all of his shortcomings, last time I checked a three point goal was worth three points more than a fancy bricked dunk shot.
As for Thomas, nobody and I mean nobody, save for the avid college hoops fan, even knew who Tyrus Thomas was prior to the Sweet 16. Lucky for you, I am a college hoops enthusiast and I could have told you the reason why LSU hit the skids late in the season was because Thomas sustained a high ankle sprain and was being held out to get healthy for the Big Dance. So yes, Thomas was vitally important to the Tigers this year, but no, he is not ready for the NBA game. Thomas, like Gay, is a stud athlete, with impressive skills without the ball, but offensively his game is not up to NBA snuff. Can you imagine Tyrus Thomas trying to take Kobe Bryant or Bruce Bowen off the dribble? Or if not on the perimeter, can you imagine him, with that slight frame, backing down Elton Brand or Tim Duncan on the block? Come on.
Thomas and Gay are cashing in because that "unlimited potential tag" is a lease that expires the longer you stick around college. Smart move to bounce; rock the Escalade proud and definitely pimp it with spinners, but I personally don't expect much burn or much production from either of you.
Call me crazy, but barring injury for all three, Redick will average more minutes, more points and play more seasons in the NBA than the more physically blessed Gay and Thomas.