Writing on the wall for JJ; Look to Big Ced for example (May 7th Update)

May 1, 2008
The writing may be the wall for JJ Hickson. As NC State fans people who genuinely want to see JJ Hickson maximize his earnings and succeed for years to come; we can only hope that the young man is mature enough to ‘read the wall’ objectively ans execute the kind of decision-making-skills needed to insure a bright future for the young man.

Before the recent onslaught of announcements by dozens of highly rated underclassment, Hickson was projected by many to be a second round draft choice in this summer’s NBA Draft. The impact of all of these underclassment has certainly not helped Hickson’s cause.

A recent spate of articles from various pundits all echo an indentical sentiment – JJ Hickson definitely needs to come back to school for at least one more year. And these articles aren’t just ‘throw away’ mentions; Hickson’s decision to potentially leave early is being specifically identified as one of the biggest mistakes of all of the early decisions.

Just this week ESPN’s Chad Ford said:

I love Hickson’s game, but the draft is so crowded. He’d be better off going back to school, dominating for a year and then testing the waters as a sophomore.

Of course, any and all of this ‘guidance’ may be irrelevant if JJ is committed to entering the NBA Draft come hell or high water…and, that seems to be the case. The comments under JJ’s name on CBS Sportsline’s tracking of the early entrants says:

Nobody was in more of a hurry to get to the NBA than this guy.

IMHO, the real crux of the issue for Hickson should have much more to do with his potential longetivity in the NBA – and therefore long term earning power – than his ability to make some money as early as possible.

Wolfpackers probably recognize this ‘balance’ more than most fan bases based on recent developments in career of Cedric Simmons. After being ‘projected’ to be drafted closer to #10, Simmons was selected HIGHER than Hickson is projected at a solid #15 just two years ago. Simmons was projected to be such a solid choice that the Hornets’ draft received rave reviews. (See how these ‘projections’ work out?)

Simmons is now on his third NBA roster in just two years. As #15 draft selection in 2006 he by-passed significant developmental, practice and playing experiences over the last two years in exchange for starting in four games and appearing in only 57 games. To this point in his career Simmons has played in less than 600 minutes of NBA games. By contrast, JJ Hickson played almost 900 minutes in his first collegiate season.

It should be noted that Simmons has dealt with some injuries since joining the league. But that is part of the risk of jumping to the league before your skills are ready just as the risk of getting injured in college is always cited.

The injuries caused Big Ced to spend time in the NBA’s Developmental League in Iowa to help him rehabilitate and get into shape (since NBA teams don’t practice enough for young players to get into shape or develop) A ‘pro’ basketball stint in Iowa surely was not on the radar for any potential lottery pick coming out of college. That had to suck. But, when you don’t get significant playing time in the NBA because you are young and still developing, how else do you get the chance to shake off the rust?

Unfortunately, these developments seem to indicate that Simmons is already evolving into the part of “NBA Journeyman”. Guess what? NBA Journeymen don’t make tens of millions of dollars. They also don’t make it in the league long enough to make that kind of money because there are always dozens of ‘youngsters’ coming out early who are a little younger and may have just enough ‘potential’.

As a player in the NBA you have one of two different abilities that are valuable to a franchise: (1) you contribute, or (2) you have potential. If you ‘fall in the bucket of ‘having potential’ then you better get yourself into the contributing category as fast as you can who those youngsters quickly take your spot on the end of the bench.

In the NBA, youngsters who are bench players early in their career – as big men often are – rarely develop their game as they would in college because of the limited practice schedule. Due to the 82-game schedule, NBA squads travel and play games much more than they practice. Therefore, the opportunity for young players with ‘potential’ to develop in truly competitive environments is limited. Ultimately, these kids make a few million bucks in their first three years and then their ability to make tens of millions of dollars for the money for the next decade is significantly impaired.

Of course, there is always the risk of ‘injury’ even if the frequency of career ending injuries in basketball is exceptionally low. This is why insurance policies exist. Insurance proceeds certainly won’t make-up the difference in tens of millions of dollars through a career that lasts more than a decade; but, we aren’t talking about someone who is currently projected or guaranteed that kind of career to begin with. Look at Big Ced to see how early-career injuries in the NBA can create equal risk on your future.

The best route to achieving a long-term career and the exceptional pay-day that comes with it just may require the ‘risk’ of another developmental year in college for JJ Hickson. Whatever his ultimate decision, we would all want nothing more than to see an unlimited amount of success for the young man.

Parting shot – From the NC State perspective, if JJ Hickson were to return for his sophomore season, I truly believe that the Wolfpack could be just as big of a surprise in 2008-2009 as we were a disappointment in 2007-2008. Only time will tell…but the pieces are there for signficant improvement as long as the team can remain relatively healthy.

Updated May 7th
Hickson’s decision ranked one of the five worst in all of college basketball by rivals.com. (Isn’t “The Wolfpacker” part of Rivals.com? Just curious…how do the Wolfpack Club and Athletics Department NOT view such an article as ‘negative’ like they do SFN? All we are doing is reporting what they are saying…yet WE are ‘negative’?!)

F J.J. Hickson, N.C. State
Stats: 14.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg

If given the choice, you never want to go into the draft with your stock slipping. That is the case with Hickson, a 6-9 freshman. He got off to an impressive start, averaging 16.5 points per game in November and December. But that dropped to 12.5 in conference play. The Wolfpack’s struggles didn’t help, either. They lost their last nine games and finished with more losses (16) than wins (15). Hickson is projected as a borderline first-round pick, but if he stays in school and makes some improvements, he will be a first-round lock next year.

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07-08 Basketball Alums

66 Responses to Writing on the wall for JJ; Look to Big Ced for example (May 7th Update)

  1. CaptainCraptacular 05/01/2008 at 9:30 AM #

    good luck JJ, sincerely hope it works out for you.

  2. Sweet jumper 05/01/2008 at 9:36 AM #

    Stay for one more year J.J. and develop your game further so that you will be a lottery pick in next year’s draft and really cash in. This will also allow you the opportunity to embarass this year’s national POY at least twice next year and then be drafted ahead of him!

  3. ktoh 05/01/2008 at 9:37 AM #

    NBA draft express has him off the board and they ran both rounds 1st and 2nd rounds.

  4. blackdom 05/01/2008 at 9:43 AM #

    ^I agree to all that about him staying as well,Sweet jumper: A lottery pick next year? JJ needs a whole lot more improving to become a lottery pick,if he does go this year he is making a huge mistake in my mind.

  5. Dr. BadgerPack 05/01/2008 at 9:51 AM #

    The “Nobody was in more of a hurry” comment could simply allude to the fact he was the first to declare.

  6. choppack1 05/01/2008 at 9:52 AM #

    Everyone seems to think that even though he’s done everything to allow him to stay, he’s still going.

    It’s a shame, he has a lot of development to do. Worse for him yet, he won’t be a first round draft pick so no team is going to take the time to develop him as he’d like.

    I found this sentence very telling about our b’ball team this year:

    “NBA teams don’t practice enough for young players to get into shape or develop.”

  7. blackdom 05/01/2008 at 10:00 AM #

    nbadraft.net has JJ off both 1st and 2nd round boards

  8. ncsu96 05/01/2008 at 10:18 AM #

    NBA teams give coaches about 5 minutes to have success… it makes no sense for a coach to take a player who needs development.

  9. packbackr04 05/01/2008 at 10:29 AM #

    i think he should stay. Hopefully Larry Brown and Sid can let him know where he stands. it doesnt look good for JJ making a ton of money right now. he should stay one more yr.

    what is the last day players can pull their names out of the draft?

  10. wufpup76 05/01/2008 at 10:31 AM #

    It’s pretty simple, if you’re an underclassman and you’re not a sure-fire first round lock, you should definitely stay … that’s for anyone at any program … You could stand to lose millions of dollars; also, you’re not even guarenteed a roster spot / contract if you’re not selected in the first round … Testing the waters is fine, but I would want to be damn sure I was going in the first round

    This has nothing to do w/ me wanting JJ to stay for the benefit of the NCSU basketball team; I would say the same for anybody in a similar situation … Case in point, I hate the Holes – but if Ellington or Lawson were not projected to be first round locks I’d say they should stay as well even though their combined talent and experience levels would be a great benefit to the Holes next season – and that’s the last thing I want for the Holes … more talent and experience

    If you do go JJ, God Bless and good luck :)

  11. nycfan 05/01/2008 at 10:47 AM #

    Why would LB advise Hickson one way or the other?

    Either way, it seems a no-brainer for Hickson to return, but he was a kid who saw himself as one and done and I think it is sometimes very hard for kids who have heard that since 9th grade to come to grips with the reality of the situation.

    I think a lot of these kids are swayed by knowing they can make good money playing in Europe, but what they don’t seem to get is that while $200 – $500 K/year in Europe feels like a ton of money, it is not enough to be set for life even if you play several years and it is a lot tougher to get back to the NBA, where the life-altering money is, from that route.

  12. ChuckAllYall 05/01/2008 at 10:55 AM #

    wufpup 76,

    I have to respectfully disagree with your comments on the Tar Heel players in regards to the draft. I have heard strong rumblings that at least seven of their players (Hansbrough, Ellington, Lawson, Green, Thompson, Bobby Frasor and Surry Wood) are all projected to be lottery picks. I think I speak for most everyone when I say it’s not our place to try and snuff out these fine youngsters NBA aspirations. These seven players owe it to themselves, their families, and their university to take their talent to the next level and realize their potential as NBA superstars. As an ACC fan, it will be hard for me not having them around next season, but I will do everything in my power to stay strong because that is what they would have wanted me to do…….Oh, this just in….my source has now told me that Roy Williams has been upgraded to a late first round selection. He should go too. He could buy a lot of Coca-Cola’s for his mama with that money.

  13. choppack1 05/01/2008 at 10:59 AM #

    Also, FWIW – I thought that Ced – because of his wingspan -and his frame – could have been a Top 5 pick his junior or senior year. I think he was a little taller than JJ, but JJ definitely had better basketball skills. The problem is, JJ is apparently 6-8 – so he has to play the 4 and I don’t think he’s ready for that yet.

    It does sound like JJ made up his mind long ago. I’d like to hear his criteria for coming back. For example – for Josh Powell, there was no coming back, no matter what. For Damien Wilkins – it was driven by his draft chances. So far, it sounds like JJ falls in the Powell category, he’s just not tipping his hand.

  14. blackdom 05/01/2008 at 12:04 PM #

    No, I think : The “nobody one was more in a hurry to get to the NBA than this guy” is and was a very valid comment…….We heard this even before last season started by him and by his coach and “mentor” Sid. He is also a legit 6’8″ not a monster so it will be very very tough for him to play with 4′s in the NBA, and he does not have in any way shape or form the proper skills to be a 3, he is a project indead and most teams throw money only at 7 Ft plus projects.
    If I was counting on Sid and Larry for my advice I would get a third opinion.And Larry Brown still bleeds powder blue.

  15. ktoh 05/01/2008 at 12:15 PM #

    If he goes that is fine as well. I like most did drink the kool-aid on JJ. He may well turn up ok in the long run ,but he lacks a great deal of skills as well.My biggest concern is Sid knew and I think encouraged him that he was a one year and done player more than anybody did.
    My question and concern is where is his replacment for JJ?

  16. Wolf-n-Atl 05/01/2008 at 12:25 PM #

    When is JJ scheduled to have his workout for the teams? I know that Sid said he would have an on-campus workout rather than traveling all over the country. His showing at this workout will make a big impact on his draft position.

  17. packbackr04 05/01/2008 at 12:35 PM #

    Larry Brown has a ton of respect for Sid and i think would give objective advise to JJ and Sid concerning his draft position. also, i thought Larry brown and UNC were kind of at odds and have been for some time? am i wrong?

    also, ill ask again, when is the latest date. a player can pull his name out of the draft?

  18. Wulfpack 05/01/2008 at 12:43 PM #

    ^June 19, one week before the draft.

    My impression is that LB and UNC are on good terms…

  19. Daily Update 05/01/2008 at 12:43 PM #

    JJ is more developed at this point in his career than Cedric was as a sophmore. I think some scouts hoped Ced could play some 5 in the NBA which led to him going top 15. Still, IMO JJ is similar to former Duke players Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, and Shelden Williams. Like these players, JJ is clearly a four. I don’t watch much basketball outside of the ACC, but it really is hard to imagine that he isn’t at least a 2nd round pick.

  20. RickJ 05/01/2008 at 12:46 PM #

    I read somewhere that Lowe had asked Hickson to finish his second semester at State if he decided to leave for the NBA and Hickson said he would. This is a big deal regarding the team APR. As far as I know Hickson has lived up to this part of the bargain. If true, he should be commended for doing so.

    Another reason to stay is that it is widely believed that next year’s draft will not be nearly as deep.

  21. happypackdad 05/01/2008 at 12:52 PM #

    How does NCSU get players that leave early & before they’re ready & unc has a 1st team AA stick around for 4 years? I hope we never recruit another 1 & done player.

  22. newt 05/01/2008 at 1:14 PM #

    My impression watching the Final Four was that Larry Brown is a big Kansas fan.*

    * along w/Roy Williams.

  23. packbackr04 05/01/2008 at 1:17 PM #

    does anyone know what JUCO Sid may have been referring to in his interview last week with the N & O?

    also, i hear we are playing a canadien team this fall. hope we dont get beat.

  24. nycfan 05/01/2008 at 2:15 PM #

    LB was pretty crushed by the way his ‘interview’ was handled when Gut retired (a not so nice no thanks from our illustrious AD) and was even more bitter when Carolina made the second run at Roy, who, as I understand it, LB thought had been extremely disloyal to Dean. Since then, I’ve heard him say he is the biggest Kansas fan in the world. He is still loyal to Dean and says great things about UNC, but I don’t think he is exactly friendly with the athletic administration or the current coaching staff (even though Roy was on his Olympic staff).

    As for guys leaving UNC early, I think UNC has suffered that fate as much or more than any other team in the country. It is kind of miraculous that Hansbrough came back, but the list of kids leaving early is long and sometimes painful … Bones McKinney (no, I don’t actually remember that). McAdoo. Worthy. Jordan. Reid (ok, maybe that wasn’t all bad). Stackhoue. Wallace. McInnis. Jamison. Carter. Forte (see Reid). Peppers. May. Felton. McCants. M. Williams. Wright. Lawson. Ellington. Green. OUCH. It has definitely accelerated for everyone in the last decade.

    But I think to compete at elite levels now you have to have a few of the one-and-done type talents surrounded by 2/3 & done and some seniors, so the bright side for State is that Lowe has shown he can reel in those type of players. It seems like a lot of recent national titles (KU this season, Florida last year, UNC in ’05) have been dependent on a guy (or 2) who stayed that extra year.

    Still, it does stink ending every season with the annual “who’s going pro” rumor mill (now sometimes followed by the “who’s coming back” wishful thinking roller coaster). But that is a lot better than the “who’s tranferring” ride you guys were on under that other guy I think I’m not allowed to name.

  25. CaptainCraptacular 05/01/2008 at 2:34 PM #

    NBA teams give coaches about 5 minutes to have success… it makes no sense for a coach to take a player who needs development.

    Perhaps you are under the distorted impression that coaches have any sort of real say so for who their organization picks in the draft.

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