SAT scores, NBA Draft
School’s out, but education seized the headlines when Sen.
Barack Obama and Sen.
John McCain bickered like little boys over the so-called 21st Century
GI Bill, which passed the Senate 75-22
on May 22.
Meanwhile, another education story
flew under the radar. Smith College and Wake Forest University no longer require applicants
to submit SAT or ACT scores.
I applaud the move. For one thing, the exams aren’t free. The
nonprofit College Board charges
$43 for the SAT Reasoning Test and $20 for SAT Subject Tests. No, those costs
aren’t prohibitive and, yes, waivers are available. But the principle of asking
students to pay for these all-but-mandatory exams has always nauseated me.
Here’s the deeper question: Why are Smith and Wake Forest
alone? In 2001, Malcolm Gladwell reported in The New Yorker that the University of California system was reducing its
reliance on standardized exams. Seven years later, the Cal schools still require
two SAT Subject Tests. The University
of Texas grants admission
to all students ranking in the top
10 percent of their high school class, but even those kids must
take the SAT Reasoning Test.
And who pays for these obligatory exams? Students and their
parents do. It’s disgusting. We all know standardized tests favor the affluent,
who can afford Kaplan or The
Princeton Review or one-on-one tutoring. Don’t get me wrong – study
diligently, and you can ace them without high-priced guidance, just like you
can become fit without a personal trainer. But which is easier? And why, in
2008, must colleges require exams that are costly and coachable? There’s nothing
admissions officers can ascertain from these tests that they can’t glean from
four-year track records.
* * *
The NBA has its own equivalent of standardized testing. It’s
the Pre-Draft Camp
where prospects get sized and drilled in preparation for the June 26 Draft. Typically,
NBA scouts proclaim that on-court feats trump Pre-Draft measurements. Yet every
year, seven-foot stiffs like Patrick
Sene, and Oleksiy
Pecherov get picked ahead of shorter, skilled players like Craig Smith, Paul Millsap,
and Leon Powe.
It will happen again. Brook Lopez,
the seven-foot center from Stanford, may be listed at 260 pounds, but he’s a
movable body. I recall a nationally televised game March 8 in which he got
pushed around by Southern Cal’s puny forwards.
Moreover, it’s nauseating when a player of Lopez’s stature shoots under .500 two
straight seasons. Yet Lopez will likely get drafted before shorter (but better)
players like Kevin Love
from UCLA, Darrell
Arthur from Kansas, and Joey Dorsey
from Memphis. And
this will happen because NBA general managers fall in love with height. Lopez
and his brother Robin
will be lucky if they’re better than their Stanford predecessors, Jason and Jarron Collins.
The Lopez brothers aren’t the only paper tigers in this
draft. The other is DeAndre
Jordan, the center from Texas A&M. If you’re 7-0 tall, weigh 250
pounds, and you can jump to the moon, then you should dominate as a freshman. Yet
averaged only 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. He’ll dazzle
in his Pre-Draft workouts, but his offensive arsenal is nonexistent. If his
skills were even halfway decent, he’d be a top-five pick, hands down. I might
not like Brook Lopez as a prospect, but at least he averaged 19.3 points, 8.2
rebounds, and 2.1 blocks in the Pacific 10. I would select Lopez – or even Georgetown’s skilled but clumsy center, Roy Hibbert
– a thousand times before drafting a raw commodity like Jordan.
My top 20 NBA prospects are ranked below, followed by an
explanation of omissions not named Lopez,
Jordan, or Hibbert:
1. Derrick Rose, PG,
He’s already better than one-third of the NBA’s starting
2. Kevin Love, PF/C,
He can score from anywhere and his outlet passing is
3. O.J. Mayo, SG,
He could average 20.0 in the NBA tomorrow, but does he have
the win-at-all-costs savvy of Caron Butler, Richard Hamilton, or Manu Ginobili?
Few do. It’s no disgrace to compare Mayo with Joe Johnson, a multi-faceted
talent who may finally – after eight seasons – be figuring out how to win, as
opposed to simply how to score.
4. Michael Beasley,
PF, 6-9, Kansas State
Beasley only weighs 235 pounds, too light for the NBA paint.
Then there are his 3.0 turnovers per game. I view him as a perimeter-oriented scorer
like David West, a borderline all-star rather than an elite fixture.
5. Brandon Rush, G/F,
He’s the rare player who could’ve gone pro after high
school, but now has three years of polish at a big-time program.
Douglas-Roberts, G/F, 6-5, Memphis
He’s a terrific percentage shooter -- .541 this past season,
.543 as a sophomore, .531 as a freshman. As a third option, he’ll flourish.
7. Danilo Gallinari,
F, 6-9, Italy
He can shoot and run and he’s tall for a wing, a combination
that’s worked for Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, and Vladimir Radmanovic.
8. Eric Gordon, G,
He’s a superb shooter with a blinding first step. But he is
not a “bigger, better version of Ben Gordon,” as his ESPN page primly
proclaims. Unlike Ben Gordon, Eric Gordon has no point guard skills, and he’ll
need them to reach his potential at 6-3.
9. Kosta Koufos, C,
7-0, Ohio State
He’s got legitimate center size and can hit outside shots. What’s
not to like?
10. Anthony Randolph,
F, 6-10, LSU
He dominates the glass with “plus” hops, but his thin frame
and .464 shooting disturb me.
11. Donte Greene, F,
12. Darrell Arthur,
PF, 6-10, Kansas
13. Joey Dorsey, PF,
14. Jerryd Bayless,
G, 6-2, Arizona
15. J.J. Hickson, F,
6-9, N. C. State
16. D.J. White, F,
Speights, F, 6-10, Florida
18. D.J. Augustin,
PG, 5-11, Texas
19. Chase Budinger,
F, 6-7, Arizona
Westbrook, G, 6-3, UCLA
Joe Alexander, SF,
6-8, West Virginia
His three-point shooting is mediocre and his lateral
quickness is pedestrian. At the college level, where he was a de facto power
forward, he could get away with these weaknesses.
Bill Walker, SF, 6-6,
A great athlete, but where are the perimeter skills? I smell
a 12th man.
JaVale McGee, C, 7-0,
He could become a Mikki Moore type in five years, but is
that worth a top-20 pick?
Nicolas Batum, F,
Most compare him to Mickael Pietrus, but what's so great about that?
Ilan Mochari is a novelist and journalist living in the Boston area. His fiction has been honored by Glimmer Train. He is a former staff writer for Inc magazine, and he has also written for Fortune Small Business and CFO magazine. He has a B.A. in English from Yale University.