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NBA Draft: Decision on whether to turn pro is tougher than ever in 2011

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: June 6, 2011
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“I'd still leave, but you've got to weigh the options, talk to a lot of different people,” Durant said. “I know in my situation, I would want to leave. I would have done it, but it's tough for guys who are late first- or early second(-round picks).”

Though Westbrook was selected earlier than expected: “I basically feel I would make the same decision,” he said. “Coming out of college, you don't even know what the CBA is, really. That would be a tough decision to make (this year). I'm sure some players came out just because it's the right time for them to come out.”

Reserve guard Daequan Cook left after his freshman season at Ohio State and was chosen No. 21 overall in 2007.

“It would change my thinking dramatically,” Cook said of having to declare without a CBA in place. “With all that's going on, it'd be a hard decision. To be on the safe side, you could go back to college and be even more productive. Once you make a decision, you've really got to stick with it.

“If I was in that position, I would probably stay (in school), more than likely. If you don't get a paycheck, you're still living your college life, so why not go back to college, actually play ball, and then just come back the following year?”

Reserve center Byron Mullens also left after his freshman season at Ohio State and was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick had he been able to declare for the draft directly out of high school.

“I'd be half-and-half with it,” said Mullens, who was chosen No. 24 overall in 2009. “If you could go back to school, I think you'd kind of have to go back.”

Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger was slated a top-3 pick this year, but opted to return for his sophomore season.

Cole Aldrich could have returned for his senior season and played for a loaded Kansas team and rejoined potential lottery teammates in Marcus and Markieff Morris. Instead, Aldrich became a lottery pick in 2010 after his junior season.

“It depends on what you want to do as a player,” Aldrich said. “If you're a player who might not like school who wants to go forth, then you might take that risk.

“I think the biggest thing is talent. There are a few guys who come right out of high school and talent-wise can play in the league right away, and there are guys who stay four years (in college) and are really good players, but still struggle. I personally think college helps you a lot, but some guys just don't care for school.”

The bottom line in making a decision?

“Basically, go with your gut,” Durant said. “You have to take a chance sometimes and go with it.”

WORKOUT UPDATE

Duke's Kyle Singler was one of at least four players who worked out with the Thunder on Monday morning. The 6-foot-8, 228-pound forward was believed to have been joined by 6-foot-9, 230-pound Richmond power forward Justin Harper. The Thunder does not share information involving its pre-draft workouts. DraftExpress.com is projecting the Thunder will take Singler with the 24th pick in the June 23 draft.

PERK SIGHTINGS

Center Kendrick Perkins visited children participating in the Thunder Youth Basketball Summer Camp at Mid-America Christian University in south Oklahoma City on Monday. He is scheduled to appear on ESPN's Jim Rome Is Burning at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.


THUNDER U

Thunder players and when they turned pro:

PLAYER (AGE); CLASS; SCHOOL/COUNTRY

Thabo Sefolosha (17); Secondary school; Switzerland

Serge Ibaka (18); unknown; Republic of Congo

Kendrick Perkins (18); High school; Beaumont, Texas

Kevin Durant (18); Freshman; Texas

James Harden (19); Sophomore; Arizona State

Russell Westbrook (19); Sophomore; UCLA

Daequan Cook (20); Freshman; Ohio State

Byron Mullens (20); Freshman; Ohio State

Nazr Mohammed (20); Junior; Kentucky

Nate Robinson (21); Junior; Washington

Cole Aldrich (21); Junior; Kansas

FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE

Nick Collison (22); Senior; Kansas

Eric Maynor (22); Senior; Virginia Commonwealth

Royal Ivey (22); Senior; Texas

Note: Guard/forward Robert Vaden, who was added to the Thunder's postseason roster, played two years of college ball at Indiana and two years at Alabama-Birmingham.

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