Top underclassmen must decide what they handle

Originally Published: May 16, 2006
By Doug Gottlieb | Special to ESPN.com
The first question every NBA hopeful must ask himself is: What is he in college for? For many, school is there just to help facilitate an NBA career. Many, though, don't realize just how good they have it.

In evaluating some of this season's top underclassmen who are still weighing their NBA draft options, it's important to recall the story of Evan Burns. Burns was a 6-foot-8 wing who was a surefire NBA three-man. In fact, he was rated ahead of Carmelo Anthony (and behind Lenny Cooke, who has a similar tale of woe) by several high school scouting services.

Burns originally was planning to attend UCLA, but he needed to take some summer school classes to complete his core requirements to get eligible. Midway through the summer, he decided that UCLA expected too much of him academically, so he enrolled at San Diego State.

Burns became the freshman of the year in the Mountain West Conference -- and he wasn't even a starter for most of the year. He poured in 32 points against future NBA first-round pick Danny Granger and New Mexico.

With his grades in disarray, though, he began working on making the jump to the NBA. But after tearing his ACL in the spring and then flunking out of school by summer, Burns was left to rehab his injury on his own. He decided to take a year off and enter the draft in 2004, but he still wasn't ready and ended up in the 2005 draft, where he went unselected.


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