[ed: press release. dump all your "he's not working out!" hopes]
May 4, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan sophomore guard Darius Morris (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward HS) has decided to forego the remainder of his college eligibility and remain as an early entry for the 2011 NBA Draft.
"There have been long discussions with my family, friends and my Michigan coaches," said Morris. "After gathering all the information possible, I have decided to stay in the NBA Draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball.
"This was a difficult decision; however, in the end I decided to go with my heart. Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan; however, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction.
"First of all I want to thank everyone at the University of Michigan and all its great fans. I would not be in the position I am today without the guidance of Coach (John) Beilein and his staff. I appreciate all the support I have received from all my teammates and everyone involved with the program. I will forever be a Michigan Wolverine. Lastly, and most importantly, I must thank God for blessing me with this opportunity."
"We, as a staff, have watched Darius grow as a person and as a player these past two years," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "His improvement on the court has been the result of his God-given talent and his intense desire to become the best player he can be. His work habits, especially in our individual skill development time, have been outstanding, and we all witnessed the results of his efforts this season.
"Over the past month, we have worked with the NBA advisory committee and several NBA teams by gathering information to assist Darius and his family in exploring his options. We know they put a lot of thought into this important decision.
"Darius has been a catalyst in the continued growth of our program and we wish him nothing but the best in his professional basketball career and beyond. He will always be a Michigan Wolverine."
Morris, who was an All-Big Ten Conference third team selection by both the coaches and media, helped the Wolverines to a 21-14 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament third round in 2010-11. He recorded the largest margin of improvement in scoring in the Big Ten, jumping from 4.4 points per game as a freshman to a team-best 15.0 points per game this past season.
Morris broke the U-M season record for assists with 235, becoming just the third Wolverine to record 200-plus assists in a season. He recorded the third triple-double in U-M history with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Iowa (Jan. 30). Morris tallied seven double-digit assist games, including a career-best 12 helpers against Concordia (Dec. 6) and Bryant (Dec. 20). Overall, Morris led the Big Ten with 6.71 assists per game, putting him fifth in the nation.
In two seasons in Ann Arbor, Morris started 53 of 67 career games, compiling 666 career points (9.9 ppg), 197 rebounds (2.9 rpg) and 319 assists (4.76 apg).
The NBA Draft, comprised of two rounds and 60 total selections, will be held Thursday, June 23, at The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
First of all, this is not to proclaim that D-Mo WILL go pro, only to state what the effects MIGHT BE IF HE DOES. This is an analytical approach to what next year might look like without D-Mo IF he chooses the NBA.
EFFECTS OF LOSING MARGINAL PGS
We all know the effects of losing average PGs. We lost three two years ago (Merritt, Lee, and Grady) and our offense went down in flames. Most noticably, our 3PT% went down. Our team chemistry seemed to go down the toilet too. So, three areas of effect: 3PT%, chemistry, and overall offense.
Merritt was over 40% for his career, but shot only 51 3PTs.
Lee was at 36% his senior season, and shot 52 attempts that year.
The team total in 08-09 was 920 3PAs, and in 09-10: 760 3PAs.
Team clearly got fewer 3PAs the following year. The team also went down in shooting percentage. Correlation, but I believe this stems from causation. We lost ~100 attempts, which were falling at a 37% clip. That's about 100 points. Those points could have been made up by higher averages from other players, but we went from 67 to 64 PPG. That, over 33 games, makes 100 points of difference. So, in all those close games, the team lost points by missing the above average 3 point shooting of the PGs.
Luckily, this doesn't really matter in terms of D-Mos RAW shooting numbers. He doesn't shoot the three very well. But, he does set up the 3 for others very well.
I'll be back next time to look at the other aspects. (This took more time than I thought to write up...)
One possible factor in Darius Morris's decision to enter the draft is this year's change in the deadline for withdrawing from the draft. Prior to this year, that deadline was set at ten days before the draft, which is held in late June. According to this Sporting News article, the NCAA changed this year's date to May 8 at the behest of coaches from the ACC:
Coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference complained this was causing problems with knowing what players they would have on their rosters for the following season. They successfully pushed for a rule change that instituted an NCAA withdrawal date for early May, giving college underclassmen almost no useful time to establish their value to NBA teams.
This unilateral deadline imposed by the NCAA has been widely criticized by members of the basketball industry, as it is clearly a self-serving rule intended to protect the NCAA's interests by severely restricting players' ability to explore their professional options.
This deadline has put a significant amount of pressure on NBA teams to evaluate a huge group of players in a short and highly inconvenient period of time, then disperse valuable information about those players that could influence whether or not to keep their name in the draft. This is an exercise most NBA teams were not happy to participate in last year.
With the way the rules are currently set up, players have a window of only 10 days to decide whether or not to withdraw – from the time the early-entry list is officially released to teams (typically four days after the deadline, April 28) to the date the NCAA has legislated underclassmen must declare their intentions in writing to the school's Director of Athletics, May 8.
Since the NCAA also restricts student athletes from missing class to “try out for a professional team,” players are essentially relegated to the weekends of April 29 and May 6 (the same date as the Euroleague Final Four) to attend NBA workouts and get an accurate reflection of their draft stock – something that is virtually impossible due to the logistics involved.
Thewill host a mass workout for draft prospects the weekend of May 7-8 as a way of helping college underclassmen get around an NCAA rule requiring a go or no go decision by that weekend. Although only underclassmen are [affected] by the rule, the workout at PNY Center is open to all [i.e., seniors and international players may also attend].
Also worth noting from that article: "Unlike other workouts in the past, this one will include 5-on-5 scrimmages as well as the usual measurements and interviews." The rules for these workouts had previously held that no more than six players could be on the court at one time. All 30 NBA teams are expected to be there. (Also from netsdaily.com, this page provides a good rundown of NBA draft-related deadlines and events--just ignore the Nets-specific info.)
Given the speculation by some that Morris is simply going through this process as an exercise to better prepare himself for next year, what better way to do that than to participate in this first-of-its-kind mass workout/combine? That's the positive the way to look at this. On the negative side (from the selfish point of view of a Michigan fan, that is), participating in this type of workout certainly provides an opportunity for him to improve on the evaluation he's already received from the NBA. Either way, if he does participate he'll need to make a very quick decision on whether or not to withdraw his name.
Additional note: USA Today story from yesterday says that 44 players will participate in the May 7-8 workout but doesn't name them. The story also says the withdrawal date may be moved up even more next year:
Underclassmen could have even less time to make their decision next year. An NCAA proposal, which will be voted on April 28, "would require student-athletes interested in 'testing the waters' of the NBA draft to remove their name from consideration before the first day of the Spring National Letter of Intent signing period."
This year, the first day of the spring signing period was April 13, about a week after the NCAA men's championship game.
Story has a long quote from the ACC giving their rationale for the proposed change.
2011 Michigan Basketball Banquet Awards
Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player Award: Darius Morris
Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award: Jordan Morgan
Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player Award: Stu Douglass
Steve Grote Hustle Award: Zack Novak
Thad Garner Leadership Award: Zack Novak
Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award: Stu Douglass
Bodnar Award for Academic Achievement: Zack Novak
Gary Grant Award for Most Assists: Darius Morris
Loy Vaught Rebounding Award: Zack Novak
Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting: Zack Novak
Sixth Man Award: Evan Smotrycz
Iron Man Award: Zack Novak
Charge Award: Zack Novak
Nothing too surprising. I'm glad Stu was recognized for his defense - I feel so many people overlook that part of his game. He's a pretty good off-the-ball defender.
I also love that we have a "Charge Award." I'm sure Sparty loathes that.