Sophomore guard Jason Richardsons decision to leave college early for the NBA hit MSU fans hard, but things may get worse before a recovery can begin.
At 1:15 p.m. today in his hometown of Marion, Ind., freshman center Zach Randolph is scheduled to address the media about his basketball future.
Its likely hell be entering the NBA Draft.
You dont have a press conference if youre not leaving early, said Dave Telep, director of college basketball recruiting for Rivals100Hoops.com.
Telep said answering the question of whether Randolph is ready for the NBA after just one season of college ball has become irrelevant. He said the NBA is only concerned about talent - not a players ability to make an immediate impact.
The NBA has made a commitment the last five years to draft based on potential, he said. Zach Randolph is an NBA draft pick.
Moe Smedley, Randolphs basketball coach at Marion High School, said he doesnt need a press conference to know his former star is leaving MSU.
But Smedley said Randolph could better himself on and off the court if he stayed another year at MSU.
I think its a little premature, he said. Im still hoping hes got the presence to change his mind. I think hed do himself a favor to stay another year.
Smedley said no one can fault Randolph or any other early entry, including Richardson, for taking the money. He said its an easy way out of a bad situation for many of the families involved.
Theres too much pressure on young kids today. Theyve become pawns in a big money game, Smedley said.
Whatever Randolphs official decision is today, MSU head coach Tom Izzo said Tuesday he will support his freshman 100 percent.
Izzo said he believes Randolph will be a first-round draft pick, but probably not a lottery pick.
However, Izzo said Randolph has yet to sign with an agent to the best of his knowledge - leaving a possible return to college open even if he is drafted.
Everyone has to do what they have to, Izzo said. Its a tough situation and I have told him what I think is best for him to do.
Analyst Telep said Izzo better get used to having players leave the program early. He said its part of college basketball and elite programs like MSU will always have to deal with it.
The last Spartan basketball player to leave early was Earvin Magic Johnson in 1979. And despite recent unfoldings, Telep said MSUs program will survive.
(Izzos) got more tools than 95 percent of college basketball, he said.
All you can do in college basketball is continue reloading. With guys like Kelvin Torbert coming in, Michigan State will be in good shape.
Eric McKinney can be reached at email@example.com.