Pack’s Babbitt, Johnson weighing NBA options
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson said Wednesday that they are considering leaving the Nevada Wolf Pack after this season for the NBA.
“People ask me that all the time,” said Babbitt, a sophomore this year. “I keep saying the same thing. That will all take care of itself after the season.”
Johnson, a junior, gave a similar answer.
“That’s not something I’m focusing on at all right now,” Johnson said. “We’ll see after the season. All I’m thinking about right now is helping this team win a WAC championship.”
The Wolf Pack has lost three underclassmen to the NBA in the past six years.
Kirk Snyder, a junior, was drafted in the first round (16th overall by the Utah Jazz) of the 2004 draft. Ramon Sessions, a junior, was drafted in 2007 in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks. JaVale McGee, a sophomore, was drafted in 2008 in the first round (18th overall) by the Washington Wizards.
Snyder is currently out of the NBA, McGee is still with the Washington Wizards and Sessions plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I’m planning on being here (next season),” Babbitt said. “But it’s something I’ll look at after the season.”
Wolf Pack coach David Carter said he’s not worrying about Babbitt and Johnson’s decision to go or stay until after the season.
“It depends on a lot of factors,” Carter said. “We’ll sit down after the season and talk about it. It’s like Luke said, the process will take care of itself after the season.”
A new NCAA rule this season requires underclassmen to announce they are coming back to their college team by May 8. In the past, players had until the middle of June to decide whether or not they were coming back to college. The NBA draft is June 24.
“It’s much better now with the new rule,” Carter said. “When (Sessions) left, he didn’t know he was going until June. That kind of held us hostage. By that time we couldn’t go out and find a good player to replace him. Now, if a player leaves, there’s still time to go out and find a good player.”
Both Babbitt and Johnson, even if they do declare for the draft, might not be a sure first-round pick.
A quick sampling of some NBA mock draft Web sites:
• Draftsite.com has Babbitt picked in the second round and Johnson not drafted.
• Basketball.about.com has Babbitt picked in the first round with the 29th pick overall.
• Hoopsworld.com has both Johnson and Babbitt picked in the second round. Johnson by Milwaukee and Babbitt by Minnesota.
• Mynbadraft.com has Johnson picked in the second round and Babbitt not drafted.
• Nba-draft.com has both players picked in the second round.
• Nbadraft.net has Babbitt picked with the 18th pick overall in the first round by Miami.
Nobody, though, knows anything for sure until players start working out for NBA teams in late April.
“It’s a good thing,” said Carter of the draft rumors swirling around Babbitt and Johnson this season. “It means we have some good players.”
Carter said he isn’t worried that both Johnson and Babbitt will be distracted as the Pack heads into its most important games of the season.
“Both those kids are very competitive,” Carter said. “Both want to win. Both those kids sat in the locker room after we lost to Utah State and cried. They want to win. They’ll be focused on helping this team win.”