- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Spencer Hawes' decision to stay in the NBA draft Monday literally will transform Washington back into being a transition team.
Those are his words, not ours here at ESPN.com. But Hawes is putting a positive spin for the Huskies. He said he firmly believes that the Huskies will get back to running without his presence in the post.
That means Justin Dentmon and Ryan Appleby sprinting up court, looking for mobile post player Jon Brockman, high-flying wing Quincy Pondexter and impact freshman newcomer in power forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Hawes said to expect Bryan-Amaning to join him in the NBA in a few seasons.
"They're going to be fine," Hawes said of the Huskies. "I really like the players they have and the ones coming back. They'll have a different look."
The problem for the Huskies is that they play in the Pac-10 where Washington may be picked seventh behind UCLA, Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, USC and Stanford.
"It's about time that it will be looked at as the best conference in the country," Hawes said. "It won't even be close."
Hawes' decision wasn't a simple one, but he finally erred on the side of caution. Hawes said he sat down over the weekend and put down a list of pros and cons. The pros were obvious: He was going to fulfill a dream and play at the NBA level. And he was going to have a shot at financial security. As for the con, well, that was obvious too. He wasn't too thrilled that the Huskies got shut out of the postseason -- yes, even the NIT -- last season.
Still, Hawes, who worked out for Minnesota (No. 7), Chicago (No. 9), Sacramento (No. 10) and Philadelphia (No. 12), is a lock for the lottery. He's likely going to add workouts for Atlanta (more for the Hawks' No. 11 pick than the No. 3 pick) and Milwaukee (No. 6).
Here are how the rest of the major decisions affected possible postseason teams Monday:
Georgetown: John Thompson III had already mentally prepared that he might lose Green, the Big East Player of the Year. Originally, when there was talk that both Green and center Roy Hibbert would bolt, Thompson III told ESPN.com that he could see the Hoyas going smaller and being quicker.
Now, the Hoyas will be a bit of a blend. They could go with a four-guard lineup with Hibbert since they will have a plethora of options with the return of Jonathan Wallace (who some would argue was this team's most important player at times), Jessie Sapp, Tyler Crawford and Jeremiah Rivers, let alone the addition of two heralded freshmen in Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. But don't discount the emergence of DaJuan Summers in a much more productive role and as well as Vernon Macklin and Patrick Ewing Jr., who is becoming one of the better glue guys in the Big East.
Sure, losing Green hurts the fluidity of the squad since he was the player that could be plugged into any spot -- whether it was passing, handling or scoring -- but the pieces are still in place for the Hoyas to be a major factor in the Big East and in contention for the national title. If the Hoyas can run their system as well as they did last season, they'll be doing just fine even without Green.
Georgia Tech: OK, so on paper, the assumption is that Georgia Tech will take a hit with the early departures of Javaris Crittenton and Young. But that doesn't seem to be the case in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt is still quite confident about next season with the return of Lewis Clinch, who played in only 14 games last season due to eligibility issues, and the return of every other key personnel outside of Mario West. So take the top two scorers off a team that made the NCAA Tournament, add a No. 3 scorer in Clinch and a recruiting class that adds depth at the point (Maurice Miller), shooting guard (Lance Storrs) and power forward (Gani Lawal), and the Yellow Jackets still have the talent to compete for a top-five finish in the ACC.
Here is something to consider from Hewitt: Look at the numbers from reserve forward Alade Aminu down the stretch last season. He scored 17 points in 21 minutes in a loss to Wake Forest in the ACC tournament and then 11 points in the NCAA tourney loss to UNLV. If he keeps up that kind of production, then it certainly will help offset the loss of Young.
Virginia: Dave Leitao exhaled Monday when he said "it's a different kind of process" about the NBA draft early-entry decision. Monday, his rising senior point guard Sean Singletary decided to go back to school, allowing the ACC runnerups and the ACC coach of the year the chance to compete for another NCAA berth in 2008.
"For us it becomes very important (to have Singletary back)," said Leitao, who loses Singletary's backcourt mate senior J.R. Reynolds, as well as senior forward Jason Cain.
"He's a terrific leader, player and kid," Leitao said of Singletary. "Now we'll have someone to bridge the gap with the class we have coming in."
Singletary, who had one of those stellar moments last season when he beat Duke in Charlottesville with a baseline shot as he was falling down, played in the pre-draft camp in Orlando, worked out for a Houston-sponsored session, went to Seattle, Portland and Philadelphia before canceling a workout with Miami. Singletary was projected to go in the second round.
Leitao's plan is to play Singletary at the point but also off the ball with incoming point guard Sam Zeglinski getting some minutes handling the ball. He'll also use Jeff Jones and Mustapha Farrakhan in the incoming freshmen class, as well as oft-injured Solomon Tat, to spell Reynolds' minutes.
"We'll have plenty of options," Leitao said Monday. "We're going to have a lot of competition."
Leitao said he could also move Mamadi Diane from small forward to shooting guard in place of Reynolds. Bottom line: Singletary's decision affects a lot of people, according to Leitao. And not just with the Cavs. His decision also affects the ACC, allowing Virginia to be an NCAA-bid contender again out of one of the most competitive leagues in the country.
There was a bit of relief in Fox's voice Sunday night as he escaped with at least one veteran guard returning. He has already lost senior guard Kyle Shiloh.
But Fox spoke glowingly about incoming freshman guard Armon Johnson of Reno, Nev. Fox expects him to compete for major minutes right away. Two other Nevada players will return as sophomores: guard Brandon Fields (8.2 minutes per game in 33 games) and wing Tyrone Hanson (8.1 minutes per game in 30 games).
With Shiloh and Sessions gone, Kemp will have to play more point guard next season. His experience will be a plus; he's entering his sixth year of college because of a medical redshirt. Kemp and one-time ineligible forward Demarshay Johnson, who started two years ago, give the Wolf Pack at least two reliable players. The returning post players aren't in the mold of Nick Fazekas, who also finished up his eligibility after being the dominant player in the WAC the past three seasons, but they have plenty of upside. Rising 7-foot-1 senior center David Ellis and 6-11 sophomore JaVale McGee give the Wolf Pack plenty of size.
"We'll be fine," said Fox, who will try to lead the Wolf Pack to yet another WAC title and an NCAA Tournament berth. "I really believe that."
Nevada certainly will be more balanced without Fazekas, who averaged 20.4 points a game. But Kemp scored 18.4 per game, so his return was critical for the Wolf Pack to have a chance versus New Mexico State, Fresno State and Utah State at the top of the WAC.
Oklahoma State: Regardless of JamesOn Curry's decision to stay in the draft, the Cowboys are hoping that if he's not chosen, he doesn't sign with an agent. They are still holding out that Curry could be a part of the Cowboys next season.
And if he is, coach Sean Sutton says look out for this squad.
"We've got a chance to be really, really good with our guards and wings," Sutton said Sunday night.
Sutton believes this is true even without Curry. That's because the Cowboys return Obi Muonelo, who played in only 17 games because of injuries, and Byron Eaton. Eaton was a heralded point guard who hasn't been a highlight just yet (230 assists to 207 turnovers in two seasons). But he's entering his third season, and improvement is expected. Muonelo, who was averaging 10.1 points a game when he went down, could turn out to be the leading scorer. Terrel Harris is back after playing in 30 games. He adds more depth to the team. But Sutton is really high on the impact of James Anderson, a scoring small forward from Junction City, Ark. The Cowboys signed seven players, which was needed in the most important class for Sutton to date.
Losing Mario Boggan's scoring and rebounding will be a chore to replace. But if the Cowboys are able to press and a run a bit more, they'll have the look Sutton is hoping for and have the ability to be a top 4-5 Big 12 squad and on the verge of an NCAA Tournament berth.
Marquette: Coach Tom Crean was matter-of-fact about Dominic James' deciding Sunday to return to school. The reality is that the Eagles now can essentially be the exact same team that beat Duke earlier last season and was a pest in the Big East and in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Michigan State.
James' return means the Eagles' four guards -- James, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and David Cubillan -- are all back to cause havoc in the league. The key will be the continued development of forwards Ousmane Barro, Dan Fitzgerald and Lazar Hayward.
Crean was pretty high on the work ethic of this crew since the NCAA Tournament loss. Marquette will be one of the more experienced squads in the Big East, and with a loaded slate of home games the Eagles look ready to repeat last season's success and weakness -- tough to guard off the dribble and able to defend, but still looking for that consistent play in the post. If they find that, the Eagles could be a Final Four team.
Cal: Coach Ben Braun just wants a healthy squad next season. If he gets one, he's convinced the Bears can be a factor in the Pac-10.
DeVon Hardin's returns gets Cal healthy quickly as he provides major scoring post presence. It also could help Ryan Anderson, since the rising sophomore phenom will be able to play off Hardin. Those two, along with a healthy Bears team, will be formidable. Braun's frontline will also benefit from the return of 7-foot center Jordan Wilkes, who missed last season with an injury. Getting back Nikola Knezevic, who was also hurt, helps immensely on the wing given the departure of Ayinde Ubaka, who finished his eligibility.
The problem for the Bears is that they're in the Pac-10, although Hardin's return will make them a major player with the conference's six other top-25 teams -- UCLA, Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, USC and Stanford.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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