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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Adams: Poeltl should have taken the potenttial draft money and run

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Upon first hearing the news that Utah freshman Jakob Poeltl was returning to school for his sophomore year, I was ecstatic (hey, I’m a student at this school, too). Poeltl coming back means Utah has a better chance to back up Brekkott Chapman’s stated goal at the end of the season — to return to the Sweet Sixteen.

My excitement over this makes what I’m about to say that much harder. I know students here at the U along with the rest of the Ute faithful won’t agree with me on this, but if I’m being totally honest, Poeltl made the wrong decision by coming back to school.

I totally understand the argument to stay. He’s raw and still has a lot to learn offensively, needs to gain a few more pounds in order to compete down low with NBA bigs, and, quite frankly, he couldn’t hit water if he was falling out of a boat from the free-throw line. Staying here in Salt Lake City with head coach Larry Krystkowiak for another year would be extremely beneficial from a readiness standpoint.

However, there’s more to it than just being ready. When looking at the various draft websites out there, Poeltl was going as high as a late lottery pick. According basketballinsiders.com, the last pick of the lottery (No. 14) will make over $1.6 million in the first year of his contract, and over $1.7 million in the second year.

As far as guaranteed money goes, Poeltl would earn over $3 million in two seasons at the NBA level, but instead he is going to spend another year playing college ball for nothing. Now, I don’t know Poeltl’s financial situation or what his family life is like, but $3 million is a lot of money for any person to turn down.

Some say that if Poeltl returns, he will only improve his stock, and maybe he will. Chad Ford, ESPN’s NBA draft guru, even said on his personal Twitter account that the Austrian has potential to be a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.

So, it’s clear the opportunity is there for Poeltl, but let’s break down how he rose up on those mock drafts in the first place. While he was mentioned as a first-round talent throughout the season, it wasn’t until he dominated the NCAA tournament that his name really started dangling around those late lottery picks.

Poeltl was on a tear during Utah’s Sweet Sixteen run, and he deserves the credit for that, but that’s all the college basketball world outside of the Pac-12 really knows about him. They never saw his three-point outing against Stanford, or his mere two points against Oregon State, or how about his zero-point effort against Washington State?

I’m sure there is some reasonable explanation as to why Poeltl did poorly in each of those games, but again, no one was paying that much attention during that portion of the season — at least not compared to what they were in March.

By coming back, Poeltl has the risk of being over-scouted. If he goes through a bad slump during the season, everyone in the scouting world will know about it, and those questions about his game — free throws, post moves — will become more evident. If that happens, his stock will be hurt.

Poeltl also carries the weight of an entire damn country on his shoulders. Poeltl would become the first Austrian player to play in the NBA, and while his arrival to the league is most likely inevitable, you never know what could happen playing another year at the collegiate level.

Again, I’m pulling for him. I do think Krystkowiak has the coaching ability to give Poeltl another year’s worth of knowledge and better prepare him for the NBA.

But in the end, I think all eyes will be on Poeltl next season, and the tiniest of slip-ups will start finding their way onto the NBA scout sheets. Late lottery was probably the highest Poeltl’s draft stock ever will be, and with that much money on the table, you have to take it and go.

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@GriffDoug

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