That one time Purdue fans got catfished about AJ Hammons and the NBA Draft
Sit down, young lads and lasses. Let Uncle Aneesh tell you a tale about how a fake Twitter account can crap out rumors like nobody’s business. Enter: Jeremy Smith, aka Jeremy SmithNBAHoops, aka @JSmithNBAHoops. Self-described as an “NBA Hoops Writer/Draft Analyst” from New York City.
Purdue's AJ Hammons will declare for the NBA draft and will forgo his two remaining years of eligibility, according to a source close to him
— Jeremy SmithNBAHoops (@JSmithNBAHoops) March 27, 2014
New York based NBA Draft analyst Jeremy Smith reporting AJ Hammons will declare for the NBA Draft and leave Purdue.
— Jeff Washburn (@JeffWashburnJC) March 27, 2014
But then…GBI to the rescue!
Confusion set in, once a little more digging was done:
Hmm…maybe…but what if…no way…..
DAMN YOU, LENNAY KEKUA!
Catfish confirmed by Purdue’s Associate Sports Information Director (and great Twitter-er) Chris Forman:
Love Twitter, but man.... Dude with 19 tweets and 36 followers is now the "full" source that people rely on???? #BreakingNews
— Chris Forman (@ChrisForman12) March 27, 2014
Expansion of information from GBI:
According to a source close to AJ Hammons, he will seek feedback report from #NBA draft advisory committee. No surprise there.
— GoldandBlack.com (@GoldandBlackcom) March 27, 2014
That last part, about Hammons seeking a feedback report from NBA draft scouts, should have been expected for a while. For Purdue fans, the last memory of “testing the draft waters” was JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore in 2010 (right after their junior year). As we all remember, they didn’t hire agents, got some useful feedback, returned to school and had successful senior years.
But four years can make a world’s worth of difference, as far as NCAA/NBA rules are concerned. Read Jonathan Givony’s always-brilliant account about how the NBA draft declaration and withdrawal deadlines have changed. (Also, read DraftExpress anyway, because it’s the best.)
Basically, it means that “testing the waters” doesn’t exist anymore, as the changed deadline dates offer no discernable advantage for any underclassman to declare for the draft before he is 100% set on going. These new rules also essentially prohibit any workout evaluations before the prospect declares for the draft, relying only on NBA franchise-specific scouting reports (which are often less-than-stellar) to make a decision. As always, these changes benefit the NCAA and millionaire college basketball coaches, but screw the ‘student-athletes’ by forcing them to make a life-altering decision with incomplete information.
Tl;dr: a prospect shouldn't “test the waters” of the NBA draft anymore, once he declares he’s gone. Purdue fans will have an answer before April 27th.
Relating this back to AJ Hammons, it makes perfect sense for the projected second round draft pick to gather all of the information he can from NBA scouts. AJ is currently projected to go between the 34-60th picks in the draft (basically, anywhere in the second round), and only a first round selection (picks 1-30) comes with a guaranteed NBA contract.
I’ll have my extended thoughts on AJ’s decision (with video, of course) posted soon, but it boils down to this: I don’t believe an extra year at Purdue will push him into the first round. AJ is already a year older for his class, meaning he’ll turn 23 before the 2015 NBA season starts. Potential is extremely important to NBA GM’s, and a 23 year old college junior isn’t worth a first round selection. I think his maximum draft ceiling is in the first half of the second round (picks 31-45). If Hammons gets the idea that teams will be interested in him at that range, he should go now. If he gets the idea that he’ll be a 2014 late second rounder, he should come back and be the centerpiece of a (hopefully) top-half Big Ten team.
I’ve heard/read some disheartening things directed at AJ concerning his decision, and all of them come out sounding incredibly hypocritical. Of course he should chase a multi-million dollar dream as soon as possible. This isn’t about whether he’s ready for the NBA or not…very few late first or second round picks are. This isn’t about AJ’s loyalty to Purdue. This isn’t about Ronnie Johnson, or Jay Simpson, or Matt Painter, or Morgan Burke. This is about AJ Hammons maximizing his draft stock position, and taking advantage of the 2014 or 2015 NBA market for skilled and coachable 7-footers. Hammons needs to do what’s best for himself and his family, and Purdue fans should support his decision either way.
Moral of the story:
1) I'm sure this won't be the last AJ Hammons-related Twitter hoax. Remember: If in doubt, read GBI.
2) DON’T READ TWITTER AT WORK.