Should they stay or should they go?
When Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels decided to return to UConn for their junior years, they were on a mission.
“We’ve been saying since we got here, ‘we came in together, we’re going to leave together,’” Boatrght told me after a workout at Gampel in May of 2013. “We’ve been living together since we came here. I love him, but I’m still tired of him at the same time. But we came in together, we’re going to leave together. We’re going to finish strong.”
Now it’s decision time again. Boatright and Daniels must decide by Sunday whether to test the NBA Draft, or to come back to UConn for their senior seasons. The decision could come down any moment now. At the Final Four, Boatright talked about the need for patience, noting that going out too early could mean “getting stuck in Europe or the D-League.” At the parade, he mentioned that days like this make a player want to “come back and do it again.” At other times, he has hinted that he might be ready to move on and earn a living to help his family.
Daniels has said almost nothing, and did not talk to reporters at the parade. Neither Boatright, who was honored back home in Chicago last weekend, nor Daniels were at Fenway Park with the team this week.
It’s a tough call; scouts are not overly encouraging and neither is certain of being drafted and there are compelling arguments for either to stay, or leave.
The arguments for leaving:
* Finish strong? Both Daniels and Boatright achieved what they came to UConn to achieve, they’ve won a national championship. It would be impossible to top, and almost impossible to equal what they have now already done. If they were to return, and their hearts aren’t in it, they could hurt their stock with a lackluster senior year.
*Boatright’s drawback as far as the NBA is concerned is size, and that’s not going to change if he stays another year. So why not move on and make a living somewhere, overseas or in the D-League, now?
* Boatright bought into coach Kevin Ollie’s theory that he could make a name for himself as a defensive player, and what he showed in the tournament could encourage a pro team to give him a shot.
*Daniels, 6-9, is considered by scouts to have a lot of upside, and perhaps his talent could developed better, faster in an NBA setting, even if it means time in the D-League. His stock appears to be moving up as the draft approaches.
The arguments for staying:
*There is no downside to getting a college degree. In addition to the post-playing opportunities it could open, it’s a self-esteem builder. Both would become a year older, wiser, more mature if they stay and assume leadership of the team.
* Both, but especially Boatright, could show scouts what he can do outside the shadow of Shabazz Napier, and develop his overall game, especially his offensive game, that much more.
* Daniels can get bigger and stronger, and assert himself the way he did in the NCAA Tournament from the start of the season, and prove he can do it on an every-game basis. He could improve his stock to lottery-pick territory if he were to have a monster season.
* If both, or either one return, UConn would likely start next season as a highly ranked team. In fact, with Rodney Purvis becoming eligible, Sam Cassell Jr. and Daniel Hamilton coming in, and everyone else a year better, the Huskies would be well -equipped to compete for yet another title.