April 26, 2013 by Ryan MacDougall
USC redshirt junior center Dewayne Dedmon has declared that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft. In USC’s official release, Dedmon stated, “It’s just my time to chase my dream and go to the NBA.” Because of his poor decision, Dedmon’s dream will likely have to stay a dream.
Just to remind Dedmon: Only 60 players get drafted. Of those 60 players, only the 30 first round draft picks receive guaranteed contracts, and most players who get selected in the second round do not even make an NBA roster. Not only will Dedmon not be selected in the first round, it is likely that he will not be selected at all. Given the five percent chance (generous) Dedmon gets drafted, there is an even slimmer chance he makes an NBA roster. On ESPN, Dedmon is currently ranked the 122nd player in the NBA draft and the 16th ranked center. Although it is early in the draft process, that deficit is likely too substantial to make up.
I have no doubt that NBA teams and scouts are intrigued by Dedmon’s exceptional athleticism for a seven-footer. Scouts have said he is a raw big man with potential that only has four years of organized basketball under his belt. But not only did Dedmon have low productivity in his two years at USC, he failed to improve. In his sophomore year, he averaged 7.6 points and 5.5 points while in his junior year he averaged 6.7 points and 7 rebounds. His field goal percentage dipped from 55 percent to 50 percent. Would teams be will to risk a draft pick on an athletic big men who has raw but has failed to show any improvement, especially at 23 years old?
A few years back, USC had a 6-foot-8 small forward named Davon Jefferson. Jefferson was a five-star recruit with supreme athleticism and length. After his inconsistent freshman year, Jefferson still had decent overall production with 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. Like Dedmon, Jefferson’s game was still very raw and mainly just relied on his athleticism. Jefferson declared after his freshman year and despite his exceptional athleticism and potential, Jefferson went undrafted and now plays in Europe. Bottom line: It takes more than size, length, and athleticism to be an NBA basketball player. Right now, Dedmon is more of an NBA athlete than an NBA player.
The only con for Dedmon to come back to school was his age. He is already 23 years old. Most kids drafted are around 19 to 22 years old. From Dedmon’s point of view, he probably thinks that he would have a better chance of being drafted now at 23 instead of next year at 24. But as of now, Dedmon’s likelihood of getting drafted is extremely slim. With an extra year, he would have had the opportunity to improve his draft stock despite his age.
By returning to USC, Dedmon would have been able to gain experience and playing time that would be crucial for a raw player who has only played four organized years of basketball. He would have a whole year to get stronger and obtain a better body structure more suitable for the NBA. USC Athletic Director Pat Haden’s hire of coach Andy Enfield was perfect for Dedmon had he stayed. Enfield is particularly known for his skill development. With limited basketball experience, a raw player like Dedmon with enormous potential could really thrive with a coach that could help develop and refine his skills. Dedmon’s size and athleticism was also a perfect fit for Enfield’s up-tempo style of play. In a system that encourages running, jumping, dunks, and alley-oops, Dedmon would not only thrive but have the potential to be a star and dramatically increase his productivity. This was the opportunity Dedmon should not have passed up when thinking about his future and dreams.
Dedmon is not the only one who suffers from his decision. USC’s basketball team already had gaps to fill at point guard with the departure of Jio Fontan and in the frontcourt with the departures of Eric Wise and Aaron Fuller. Dedmon’s decision only compounds USC’s frontcourt issues and gives coach Enfield little to no time to find viable replacements. With Dedmon, USC would return most of its personnel that will thrive from Enfield’s skill development and up-tempo style of play. Considering all the good teams in Pac-12 besides Arizona are suffering from major personnel setbacks, a USC team with Dedmon would have had the opportunity to rise towards the top under Enfield’s tutelage. With Dedmon’s potential to be a star under Enfield at an up and coming program, he could have had the opportunity for the praise that would result.
Right now, NBA teams might have bad perception of Dedmon after being charged with two accounts of second degree assault from a bar fight in Spokane on March 9. With one more year under his belt, Dedmon would have had the chance to prove that he is only a first time offender who made a mistake and has no character issues that NBA teams need to worry about. Dedmon would also have had the opportunity to finish his degree at one of the best schools in the nation. That degree would be extremely helpful if a career in basketball does pan out. With Dedmon most likely going to Europe or the NBA Developmental League, he will not obtain enough money from professional basketball for his whole life and could have used his degree for jobs in the future. His scholarship to this private institution might be worth more than his salary next year anyways.
It’s become clear that Dedmon’s decision was not a wise one. It was outright foolish. Had Dedmon stayed at USC, his dream might have been able to become reality. Increasing Dedmon’s productivity and exposure could have boosted him all the way to be a late first rounder in next year’s draft with a guaranteed contract. Instead, Dedmon faces the steep uphill battle ahead of him. As a fellow Trojan, we wish him the best. Unfortunately, instead of reflecting on what was Dedmon’s USC basketball career, we’ll be focused more on what could have been.