It was confirmed recently what had been rumored for a long time, that tackle Jared Gaither was going to be academically ineligible for this coming football season. It is almost a certainty that Gaither will drop out of school and place his name in the supplemental NFL draft along with former Terrapin DT Rob Armstrong. In the Baltimore Sun his high school coach claimed his demotion from the starting lineup late in the season prompted Gaither to give up on his studies. More likely his attitude cost Gaither both his starting job and his college eligibility. The 6-9, 350 pound junior is an impressive physical specimen but without the mental discipline to make the most of his genetic gifts. Even if Gaither does not enter the supplemental NFL draft I doubt he will resurface at Maryland. He has been given a number of chances by the staff and has failed to take advantage of his opportunities. With motivation Gaither could have worked himself into a top 10 pick in the 2008 NFL draft but instead has damaged his reputation among NFL scouts badly.
Maryland has suffered some problems with academic issues over the last year. Defensive end Barrod Heggs, who would have been a star on the field this fall and was already the best pass rushing end on the team, flunked off the team after the season. Tackle Brandon Nixon, who was a starter two seasons ago, has also used up all his chances and flunked off the squad. There is a chance Heggs will get his academics in order and return to College Park. Let's hope he does for his sake.
DJ Strawberry has a good shot at getting drafted tomorrow night. Many mock drafts have Srawberry going in the late 2nd round. According to John Hollinger's analysis on ESPN.com Strawberry should be drafted much higher than that based on his statistical breakdown. Strawberry probably benefited most from his good number of steals (69), offensive rebounds (45) and assists (119). DJ compares very favorably to two other ACC players who have been mentioned as potential late 2nd round picks, Virginia's J.R. Reynolds and Virginia Tech's Zabian Dowdell. I don't think Strawberry will be a 1st round pick but he will get a look in the 2nd round based on his quickness, ball handling and defensive skills.
Now that the NBA early entries have been settled we can guess at the fallout of some of the decisions.
Georgia Tech was decimated by the entries of Javaris Crittendon and Thaddeus Young to the NBA. There is a core of seniors on the team in Anthony Morrow, Jeremis Smith and Ra'Sean Dickey but they have mostly been disappointments. Without any credible replacement to Crittendon the Yellow Jackets will struggle.
North Carolina lost Brandan Wright to the NBA but is still loaded with talent. Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough return to anchor the team but the Tarheels lose the only real athletic low post player they had in Wright. Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson may be a adequate replacement for Wright's scoring but they lack his shot blocking and athletic ability. In Roy Williams transition oriented offense Wright was a much better fit.
No other teams were dramatically effected by early entries. Virginia Tech had some very bad news when recruit Gus Gilchrest broke his commitment to play for the Hokies. Citing the shooting rampage by a deranged student Gilchrist said he did not wish to play at VT this fall. Gilchrist may not qualify anyway and, although he signed a letter of intent, will probably never wear a Hokies uniform. The news got worse when incumbent point guard Nigel Munson decided to transfer from Virginia Tech before next season. Without any point guard to replace Zabian Dowdell and a number of potential non-qualifying recruits the Hokies will likely find themselves at the bottom of the ACC. Those responsibilities will likely fall to freshman Malcolm Delaney, who isn't prepared to play point guard in the ACC. Delaney isn't a true point guard, but then again neither was Dowdell. He is more in the mold of a shoot first guard like Allen Iverson but with a fraction of the talent. The Hokies offense could turn into a disastrous series of one-on-one moves by Deron Washington and Delaney. May as well start the Seth Greenberg firing countdown now.