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Marreese Speights: The next Roberson and Walsh?

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The point of college is not to graduate but to prepare you for entry into adulthood. For Joakim Noah, he turned his back on a possible number one pick and millions in guaranteed cash for a third season of college basketball. For Greg Oden, it meant leaving after one season to become the next Bill Walton, injuries and all.

But I wonder if Marreese Speights understands how this works. Or better yet, the AAU coach who is in Speights' ear, whispering of champagne wishes and caviar dreams in the NBA.

Speights declined comment Tuesday. His former AAU coach, Matt Ramker, who will help advise him through the process, said that Speights made the decision after talking with his mother in St. Petersburg over the weekend.

"His dream has always been to play in the NBA, so he is going to go through the process and see what his options are," Ramker said."

Speights' status depends on who you ask. This mock draft has him going 15th. This one doesn't have him one the board.

Update [2008-4-9 11:29:2 by mlmintampa]:A comment below clarifies the opinion of Speights on the second link,

The uncertainty of Speights' status reminds me of some other guys.

Florida guards Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson might regret leaving school early.

Neither was among the 60 players selected in the NBA Draft Tuesday night.

Walsh and Roberson both declared for the draft in April, but kept their options open for returning to school for their senior seasons by not immediately signing with agents.

They eliminated that possibility last week when they decided to keep their names in the draft pool despite the uncertainty of being taken in a class filled with talented guards. Walsh had hoped to be picked late in the first round or early in the second, while Roberson was more resigned to not getting chosen and possibly having to play overseas.

If Speights is true to his word and does not hire an agent, at least he is aware that his lack of fitness and inexperience on defense might not appeal to a league that is willing to draft polished Euro players over raw college guys. Also, potential in basketball is a lot different than football. While you could see Cornelius Ingram in the NFL as a tight end in the mold of Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzalez, he realized one more year would put him in a different class. I hope Speights understands that.

We don't know if there are financial pressures on Speights, beyond the possibility of an old AAU coach hoping to get handed a wad of cash. If he needs to go, then good luck to him. But since he has an AAU coach advising him to go, we can advise him to stay.