Should He Stay Or Should He Go? … Gone …

April 24th

Spencer Dinwiddie announces that he is going to the NBA

From CUBuffs.com … Spencer Dinwiddie’s boyhood dream was to play in the NBA, and on Thursday afternoon he announced he will give himself that chance. The University of Colorado’s talented 6-6 junior point guard will declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft, foregoing his final season of eligibility at CU.

Dinwiddie, who missed the 2013-14 season’s last 18 games with an ACL injury that required reconstructive surgery, called the decision to leave “very difficult (and) bittersweet. I love everything about this place – I love the guys, the coaches . . . but I was weighing the chance to do something special. It’s the best thing to do in terms of my future.”

The deadline for college underclassmen to declare their eligibility for the draft is Sunday, April 27. The NBA Draft is Thursday, June 26.

Seated alongside Buffs coach Tad Boyle, Dinwiddie announced his plans at a crowded news conference at the Coors Events Center’s media room. His parents, Malcolm and Stephanie of Woodland Hills, Calif., also were in attendance.

Boyle said there was “no question” in his mind that Dinwiddie “is an NBA player” and has “first-round talent . . . the journey will unfold before us; we don’t have the answers to that right now. Boyle also called the decision very personal and added, “If this is what he thinks is best we’re going to support him.”

Dinwiddie, who averaged 13.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals during his college career, becomes the third CU underclassman in the last four years to exit early for the NBA.

Guard Alec Burks left after his sophomore season (2011) and was drafted in the first round (12th player selected) by Utah. Last spring, junior wing Andre Roberson also was taken in the first round (26th player selected) by Minnesota but ended up via trade with Oklahoma City.

Before he made his decision, Dinwiddie made a trip to Houston last weekend for a final medical evaluation. Although not yet 100 percent healed, he has been rehabilitating his left knee since suffering the season-ending injury on Jan. 12 at Washington and said Thursday he should be “full-go” by the first week in August.

That would be seven months after his injury – an astoundingly short rehab period. He said the Houston specialist who evaluated him last weekend offered a rehab comparison with NFL running back Adrian Peterson, saying, “If Adrian Peterson is Secretariat (for returning so quickly after knee surgery), then you’re Seabiscuit . . . he said after seven months I should be full-go.”

Dinwiddie said he has “first-round talent across the board” and that was the general consensus in NBA evaluations. “I got a lot of intrigue from the league. Everybody likes what I bring to the table.”

But, he added, the two biggest question marks hovering over him are his knee and his shooting – with Boyle claiming the latter question mark shouldn’t be there: “He can shoot better than many think . . . somebody is going to get a hell of a player at a bargain price.”

And, claimed Dinwiddie, he shouldn’t carry the injury stigma: “I shouldn’t be looked at as an injured player. I’m a player who works hard; I’m not Spencer Dinwiddie with an injured knee.”

Asked what he might be able to contribute to an NBA team, he said, “It depends on the team . . . if a team needs me to come in and learn from a vet, I’ll do that. If a team wants to give me the keys to the car, I’ll do that.”

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UPDATE … Press conference pushed back to 2:00 p.m. …

Spencer Dinwiddie has posted on his twitter account “1:00 p.m., tomorrow (Thursday)” … so the wait will be over soon.

From CUBuffs.com … The University of Colorado Athletic Department has scheduled a press conference for Thursday, April 24, at 1:30 p.m., at which junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie will announce if he will return for his senior year or declare for this June’s National Basketball Association Draft.

The conference will also be aired live on BuffsTV at www.CUBuffs.com and those interested can view the conference free of charge.

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On January 8, 2014, Spencer Dinwiddie had a bad game.

Dinwiddie scored only six points, but his Colorado Buffaloes survived in overtime that Wednesday night to defeat Washington State, 71-70, in overtime. The win, sloppy though it was, pushed CU’s record to 14-2, 3-0 in Pac-12 play. Colorado was ranked No. 15 in the nation, and had a record through sixteen games not matched in Boulder since the 1968-69 season.

Spencer Dinwiddie was the unquestioned leader of that record-breaking 2013-14 CU basketball team. Contributions from Josh Scott, Askia Booker, Xavier Johnson and others were certainly necessary if the Buffs were to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, but Dinwiddie was the floor general. Averaging a team-leading 14.7 points per game and a team-high 3.8 assists per game, Dinwiddie was on his way to the NBA after his junior season. Buff fans understood that, and were just along for the ride, enjoying what appeared to be heading for what was promising to be a memorable season.

Then, four days later, on Sunday afternoon, January 12th, everything changed.

Dinwiddie went down late in the first half in the game against Washington, and the fortunes of Dinwiddie and the Buffs took a dramatic turn.

Dinwiddie’s torn ACL was diagnosed quickly, with surgery taking place eight days later. “The low range (of recovery) is six months, the high range is eight,” Dinwiddie told cubuffs.com on January 19th, two nights before surgery was performed by Dr. Armando Vidal in Lone Tree. “I see no reason why I can’t do it in six. Climbing that mental hurdle is a big thing, but that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to baby it. I’m looking at it as a time to build up my body and become a more complete athlete.”

Speculation began immediately as to whether Dinwiddie would continue his quest for stardom in the NBA, or return to Boulder for his senior season. Back in January, Dinwiddie was circumspect about his options. “In July, I hope to be getting ready to play basketball,” he said. “Where – the Lord only knows.” If pre-draft NBA evaluations he receives appear promising, “I might take my chances,” he said. But, he adds, given the doubt that knee injuries can create until an injured player erases it, “I just don’t know.”

Dinwiddie continued, “You have to think of the future,” Dinwiddie said. “But I’m not going to make a leap of faith, not a rash decision . . . if we weigh everything and it’s not enough (to enter the NBA Draft), then No. 25 will be playing again at the Events Center.”

The deadline for college players to declare for the NBA draft is April 27th. As decision time approaches for Dinwiddie, speculation has increased, but not the certainty of what the decision might be. In a poll at CU at the Game this week, 36% of you thought that Dinwiddie declaring for the NBA was a done deal; 34% thought it would depend on what other underclassmen declared; while 30% were confident Dinwiddie would return to play his senior season in Boulder.

The pros and the cons of going pro

Spencer Dinwiddie has been preparing to hear his name heard in the 2014 NBA draft for years now. His collegiate career, including a stint at the University World Games last summer, has been singularly crafted to prepare him for that moment. Considering that playing in the NBA has been a lifelong dream of his is hard to ignore. If his rehabilitation has been going according to schedule – and there have no reports that it has not – than his mindset has to be on going pro.

There is also the reality that, despite Buff fans hopes to the contrary, that a return to Boulder for his senior season would not prove to be a means by which to improve his draft stock. If Dinwiddie plays his senior season wearing black-and-gold, and the Buffs do not fare well, and/or Dinwiddie does not prove to be sufficiently healed (or, knock on wood, he is injured again), his chances at being drafted – and fulfilling his lifelong dream – could be thwarted.

By the same token, Dinwiddie’s return to play his senior season could prove to be a wise move.

If Dinwiddie decides to play his senior season, he returns to a team which was decent without him, and will be well-stocked to make a run at the Pac-12 title with him back in the driver’s seat. The Buffs lost no starters to graduation this year, and have two new players – Dominique Collier and Tory Miller – who are poised to come in and contribute immediately. Plus, all of the freshman players forced into the fray more than expected this season – Jaron Hopkins, Dustin Thomas, Tre’Shaun Fletcher and George King – will be back as more experience sophomores. Sports Illustrated, assuming that Spencer Dinwiddie would be back in the fold, listed CU as the No. 9 team in the nation heading into the 2014-15 season.

The temptation is there for Dinwiddie to leave Boulder as a legend, as one of the all-time leading scorers (already in 23rd place all-time, with 1,115 points) and one of the all-time assist leaders. He could also leave Colorado as the player with the most wins in a career (supplanting the likeable – but hardly star-worthy – Ben Mills, who finished his four-year career at CU with 92 wins). Colorado’s record book and career charts are a mile wide and an inch deep, so Dinwiddie could rewrite many of those lists and have his name and numbered remembered in Boulder for decades to come.

But, if we’re being honest, Spencer Dinwiddie has also likely seen his name carved across the record books of the NBA. You can get to the level of achievement that he has without some ego being involved, and he has to carry with him the confidence that he can not only make an NBA roster, but be a star in The League as well.

What it all boils down to is whether Spencer Dinwiddie believes that there is an NBA team out there that believes in his talent. It doesn’t take the consensus of the mock draft experts to make Dinwiddie a rich young man. It only takes one team who is willing to take a chance on Dinwiddie not only returning to full strength, but being able to realize his full potential.

It’s easy for Buff fans, intoxicated with the success of the program over the past four seasons under Tad Boyle, to dream of Dinwiddie returning for his senior year, leading Colorado to a Pac-12 title and a deep run into March Madness.

But it’s also easy to see how the lure of reaching your goal to be an NBA player, now within reach, is too difficult to pass up … especially when you have been planning for years that 2014 was to be your year to go pro.

We can only hope that Spencer Dinwiddie is getting good advice from his family, his coaches, and NBA personnel who are being honest about his status.

If Spencer is receiving good advice, and that advice is to go pro, then we can only wish him well, and thank him profusely for all of the great moments he has brought to the University of Colorado basketball program.

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4 Replies to “To Stay Or Go? … Gone”

  1. Not to dampen BB’s enthusiasm over Stuart’s writing, but they’ve been saying that about the South Platte River for decades!

    As for Spencer, we shall see. I trust he had the correct input from actual NBA GM-level talkking heads, because if he’s doing this on a wing and a prayer, D League or Europe may be the only options left available. This year’s draft is sick with talented undergrads, even at guard and to my mind SD has not fully established himself as either a solid PG or a great SG (while he averaged almost 15 ppg,a lot of that came from the line, not from the field; his 3 pt. game regularly disappeared); he’s still a combo and there are several players who match his current talent/skill level, who aren’t injured!

    Nonetheless: Best of luck to him and thanks for the memories!

  2. Stuart, I must have been hiding under a rock all my life. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the expression that something could be “A mile wide and an inch deep.” Brilliant.

    I don’t know if there’s a book on the origins of expressions, but, after your gem, I think it would be worth it.

  3. Selfishly, I hope that his announcement is that he is coming back for his senior year. However, for Spencer and his family, I hope simply that he makes whatever he believes to be the best decision for himself. As a Buff who endured four years of dreadful hoops – the final year of the Apke era and the first three of the Miller era – I still have a bit of difficulty comprehending just how solid the program has become on a year in/year out basis. “The Mayor” has been a big part of that and irrespective of what he decides that shall not change.

    #RollTad

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