An open letter to Stanley Johnson about declaring for the 2015 NBA Draft

Subject: An open letter to Stanley Johnson about declaring for the 2015 NBA Draft
From: Stephen Shepperd
Date: 8 Apr 2015

Dear Stanley,

Hey, man. Tough loss against Wisconsin in the Elite Eight.

Losing any game in the NCAA Tournament is difficult, but I know being that close to the Final Four only to be sent back to Tuscon after some sick Sam Dekker shots hit nylon increases the pain exponentially. I’m sure the competitor in you is screaming for another shot at the Badgers which would’ve given your Wildcats squad the chance to end the other Wildcats squad’s perfect season. You wanted to play spoiler on your way to a title, and it didn’t happen. That’s okay.

But please, for the love of Isaiah Austin, don’t let that painful feeling stick with you in your quest to decide whether or not to declare for the NBA Draft.

According the’s Jon Rothstein, you are having a tough time deciding if you are going pro or staying at Arizona next season.

‘He’s really torn,’ one source said. ‘He doesn’t want to go out like he did against Wisconsin. For five years in basketball, Stanley has always won his final game. He’s used to winning.’
I get that you’re a competitor. You wouldn’t be a predicted lottery pick if that weren’t true. But if that “one source” is correct on the reason your mulling over waiting a year to go pro, you could be making a huge mistake.

Chad Ford currently has you 12th on his Big Board, but has routinely said that you could go anywhere as early as 6th if a team feels you fit their need properly. You are one of the best all around athletes in NCAA hoops, and have potential to be a lock-down defender in the NBA. While your upside may not be as high as Justise Winslow’s, according to scouts, your offensive skills are already a better starting point for pro teams than Duke’s wing, which is more enticing for a team in need of scoring right away.

Okay, yes, I did read what Ford wrote in the blurb about you in his latest Big Board ($), but I wouldn’t focus too much on that. Sure he said “He isn’t the player everyone thinks he is,” and quoted a scout calling you “the most over-hyped player in the draft,” but that isn’t how every team sees you. That was simply one scout’s opinion that was tasty enough to make Ford’s piece.

Sure, you’ve got some skills you could continue to work on. You aren’t finishing strong in the paint, your basketball IQ is slightly lacking, and it’s clear that you’re taking some defensive plays off (admit it). These are all areas of your game that will be looked at under a microscope by professional teams when they decide whether you’re going to be a good fit for their roster, but remember that every player in the draft has their weaknesses. Plus, you still have the workouts you have with teams to showcase yourself.

Look, I know the media see players who make the difficult decision to return to school — Marcus Smart, Frank Kaminksy, and most recently Georges Niang — as mature, long-term thinking individuals; but you and I both know that’s not necessarily the case. When faced with a decision to put off your first professional season for another year, you risk having a poor season, decreasing your draft stock, or worse — injury. If you ask me, that isn’t thinking in the long term.

Have you talked with your teammate, Brandon Ashley? He just announced he’s foregoing his senior year to declare for the draft. I bet if you talk to him, he will say that, while it was a difficult decision to make, it was the right move for him and his family. Do you agree with him? If so, just know that you are more of a lock in the eyes of NBA teams than he is.

Stanley, you’re going to be a lottery pick. There’s nothing left for you to prove that one more year as a Wildcat will give you the opportunity to do. Both you and I know that your future is in the NBA, so why put off the inevitable? Just look at yourself…

You’re a freaking MAN! Get yourself a suit and get your butt to the Barclays Center so you can shake Adam Silver’s hand when he calls your name. The toughest decision you should be facing right now is whether to go with the black or charcoal suit.

My expert opinion: charcoal.

Your friend,

Stephen Shepperd