Arizona State guard Jahii Carson seemed all but a lock to enter the NBA draft after his sophomore season.
He was phenomenal as a freshman, and got off to a blazing start in his second year.
But the 5-foot-10 guard has had a solid if unspectacular sophomore campaign, and after Wednesday’s 76-64 win over Stanford, left the door open for a possible return.
And according to CBS Sports’ Doug Gottlieb, a return is probably what’s best for Carson’s NBA prospects.
“Would he be best to come back? Yeah, probably,” Gottlieb told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I don’t think he’s a first-round pick with the other people coming out.
“But if he’s OK with being a second-rounder and having to go out and earn it and make a team, and maybe get guaranteed money, I can’t fault him for it.”
But while Gottlieb said he can’t blame Carson if he decides to take a shot at the NBA and guaranteed money, leaving after this season doesn’t represent the easiest path.
Carson could return as a junior and potentially play himself into the first round, though it’s also possible that a return could hurt his draft stock. Many of Carson’s shortcomings are correctable — shooting, and as Gottlieb pointed out, defensive effort — though his diminutive size will likely give NBA teams reason for concern.
Gottlieb also said that there’s a possibility that Carson could put together a stretch of big games in the Pac-12 or NCAA tournaments, something that could cause NBA teams to convince themselves to draft Carson higher than they currently have him slotted.
“I do think it’s smart to leave the door open,” Gottlieb said. “He definitely doesn’t have to leave. He can play two more years of college basketball.”