After Georgia was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Washington last March, it appeared that Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie had played their last game together as teammates.
Apparently the Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t bear the thought of these two young men being separated, as they used both of their second round draft picks to reunite the former pair of Bulldogs (Thompkins at #37 and Leslie at #47).
A congratulations is in order for both Thompkins and Leslie on being drafted, but in what several experts deemed a “weak draft” (maybe because four foreign players went in the lottery round?), you have to wonder how excited they were about going in the second round (Travis Leslie’s twitter account, which is usually very active, has not tweeted anything in 11 hours).
I believe that both players chose to forgo their senior seasons at Georgia because they anticipated that they would be selected in the first round. If not, why leave? The NBA gives players selected in the first round a guaranteed two-year contract. Players that are taken in the second round either get a roster spot, or a second-class ticket to the NBADL (or Europe).
In researching the last two NBA drafts (2009 and 2010), I learned that just 18 (60%) of the 30 players selected in round two of the 2010 NBA Draft are still in the league. For the 2009 second-round draft class, only 15 guys are still on NBA rosters.
ESPN’s Jay Bilas commented that both Thompkins and Leslie could have benefited from an extra year of college basketball. Bilas raised some questions about Trey’s toughness and conditioning, saying that Thompkins’ body fat percentage “was pretty good if you’re a sea lion”.
Hopefully Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie both have lucrative NBA careers, but you have to think that a small part of them will always wonder if they could have been better-served by staying for another year in Athens.