- Andy Katz, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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Michael Sweetney is all but assured of being chosen in the first round of the NBA draft. He could go as high as among the first 13 picks. But while the Georgetown junior may be a lottery pick, he remains certain of just one thing. He's not going to sign with an agent and jeopardize any chance of returning to the Hoyas for his senior season.
Even if the thought of finishing his college career on a team in a rebuilding mode doesn't necessarily appeal to him.
Sweetney was in Chicago on Monday, completing three days of physical and psychological testing by the NBA. He's wasn't scheduled to conduct any workouts for teams while in the city. Instead, Sweetney will schedule workouts at Georgetown sometime later this week. The NBA is allowed to pay for his trip to Chicago, but he would have to consider reimbursing teams for flights and hotels if he went to workouts in respective cities and eventually returned to college.
"Right now, I'm not sure where I stand in the draft, so I'm keeping my options open," Sweetney said in Chicago this past weekend. "That would be great (going late in the lottery). But I don't know how they (NBA) feel about me. I haven't done any workouts yet, so I don't have a good feeling of where I am in the draft."
At 6-foot-8 and 262 pounds, it's safe to say Sweetney will go pretty high in the first round. He averaged 22.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game as a junior and has all the tools to be an effective power forward at the next level. Still, Sweetney is hoping that the NBA confirms his place among the top 13 picks.
His inclusion among those invited to Chicago for just physicals and interviews says he's certainly in the running to be a lottery pick. Then again, being part of the exclusive club that included collegian lottery-locks such as Carmelo Anthony, T.J. Ford, Chris Kaman, Chris Bosh and Kirk Hinrich, doesn't automatically mean Sweetney is in the lottery. The group in Chicago with lottery aspirations had swelled to 17 by Saturday, which means at least four won't be among those chosen by a lottery team.
So, the question remains: Is being chosen in first half of the first round Sweetney's cutoff point?
Sweetney said the Georgetown coaching staff isn't pressuring him to return, although he's hearing plenty of students' pleas for him to come back. But what would he return to? Georgetown lost guards Drew Hall and Tony Bethel after each decided to transfer. Sweetney would play next to rising sophomore Brandan Bowman inside, while Ashanti Cook would have the task of getting his big man the ball while running the point. Also in the mix is veteran swing guard Gerald Riley.
But Sweetney, a preseason player of the year candidate both nationally and in the Big East if he returns to Georgetown, would obviously have to carry the offensive load. The attention would be almost too much at times, with defenses collapsing on him every time he touched the ball.
"It would be a rebuilding year," Sweetney said. "I don't know. Players are leaving left and right. If I go back, then, I don't know what to think."
Getting Georgetown back to the NCAAs would be a top priority. Sweetney went to the Sweet 16 as a freshman in 2001, but has been on two straight Georgetown squads that have missed the NCAA Tournament. Georgetown turned down an NIT bid in 2002, but reached the NIT final before losing to St. John's this past April.
"We haven't won a national championship, we haven't really accomplished a lot as a team," Sweetney said. "It's a rebuilding stage. It will be pretty tough. That's why I have to find out where I stand and hopefully all of this NBA stuff goes well."
Sweetney said he's not concerned about playing another season in the Big East, where he was the focal point of his coach's criticism of officials. Georgetown head coach Craig Esherick complained vociferously about officials' treatment of Sweetney during the 2002-03 season.
"That didn't frustrate me, it frustrated him," Sweetney said. "If get fouled and there were no calls, I would just keep playing. If the referee didn't see it then, hey, at the next level, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get every call. I have to keep playing."
Sweetney has plenty of avenues for advice in this decision. He's seeked the counsel of Georgetown alumni. He is also working out with Patrick Ewing, and said he is leaning on Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Jahidi White for counsel.
"They just said to keep working hard and that everything will fall into place," Sweetney said. "They think I'm a good player now and will have a long-term NBA career."
Still, a face-to-face meeting with those within the NBA draft process is something Sweetney needs the most right now. And, like other underclassmen, he was hoping for a sitdown with somebody affiliated with the NBA advisory committee. The group, made up of present and former general managers, met throughout the week in Chicago and was supposed to pass on their predictions to the players.
And, without the advisory committee's notes to rely on, Sweetney wasn't alone when it came to players wondering where they stood leaving Chicago. The question coming into Chicago was the same leaving it: Should they stay in the draft past the June 19 deadline to withdraw?
"I would like to hear it personally," said Washington State junior guard Marcus Moore of whether or not he was slotted among the first 29 picks in the first round. "That would be great and there wouldn't be any guessing.
"A lot of guys tell you stuff to make a buck, but if the NBA told you straight that would help. I'm not sure you can get an exact answer, but you could at least get an answer that you could work with."
Players have to withdraw from the draft by 5 p.m. ET on June 19. Unlike the early-entry letters, which had to be postmarked on the deadline, the NBA must have a letter in its hands by the end of business June 19.
Moore is leaning toward going back to Pullman. Alabama sophomore Maurice Williams could also be headed back to college. Morehead State's Ricky Minard is a lock to go back to school, while Texas Tech's Andre Emmett should go back to Lubbock, but is desperately trying to stay in the draft despite not one word from NBA personnel about him being in the first round.
As for Saint Joseph's junior guard Jameer Nelson, he played well enough in Chicago to get into the first round but isn't going to get a guarantee. So, he might return to school.
Meanwhile, N.C. State's Josh Powell said he would not return to the Wolfpack. High school senior James Lang played in Chicago and helped his cause by rebounding and running the floor well. Lang said he dropped 45 pounds to get down to 316 he weighed in at on Saturday. (A teenager cutting out junk food will work wonders). Lang said all he wants to do is get drafted, regardless of round. The other four preps in the draft -- Kendrick Perkins (signed with Memphis), Ndudi Ebi (Arizona), Charlie Villanueva (Connecticut) and Travis Outlaw (Mississippi State) -- have yet to make up their mind where to play next season.
For likely lottery picks and second-round hopefuls alike, the early-entry question is the same -- even if the choice isn't clear.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
A likely lottery pick, Michael Sweetney hasn't turned his back on Georgetown -- yet.