Al Horford, the Gators big man who has helped lead Florida to a three SEC tournament titles, an SEC regular season title and a National Championship in 2006 seems to have a fairly easy decision coming up following this season's Big Dance: To forego his Senior season at the University of Florida and declare himself eligible for the NBA draft.
But leaving Gainesville for the glitz, glamour and cash that the association offers may not be as easy as we all think it will for Al -- especially if it's up to his Father, Tito -- as the elder Horford will advise his son to stay for his final season.
The problem with this advice would be the possibility of damaging an already high draft status for Horford, who in many's opinion has the most upside of all the Gators in terms of future NBA potential (just ask Billy Donovan, or maybe in that case Dick Vitale).
Or he could improve his status as a potential pick for NBA teams, as Horford has shown improvement in many areas of his game thanks to the extra year of playing at the college level. This season he has become even better as a post option on offense, he shoots a much better mid-range jumper and has proven almost unstoppable on the glass. If he showed improvement from last season to the present, why should we expect him to hurt his draft status in any way by staying an extra year at UF?
Or, of course, Horford could potentially hurt his career with some sort of long-term injury -- a scare that was very much alive in Sunday's win over Arkansas when he twisted his ankle late in the first half. In basketball, a game that requires so much athleticism, jumping and physical play injuries are going to happen. And sometimes those injuries come at the very wrong time.
Of course we would all want Al to stay in Gainesville for one more year, as he would be listed among the top players in the country from the start. But on that note it would be all for selfish reasons. There is money to be made in the NBA and Horford seems to be set to make it. Al has had a great career as a Gator in his three seasons, and it may just be time for him to take the next step.
While Tito Horford may be looking to give advice to his son on what's best for him, Al may not exactly agree with the suggestions being put forth. And on that, I don't think any of us could blame him for it although it would be a treat to watch him for one more year in the Orange and Blue.