In late April, San Diego State Aztecs forward Winston Shepard announced that he will return to Montezuma Mesa for his senior season. No fanfare, not even a commemorative watch was given him for sticking around all four years on campus.
This was a smart decision by Shepard to quickly end all of the talk of him leaving school early for the NBA Draft. There was no guarantee that he would have been selected, more likely Shepard would have become a D-League player or take his talents overseas.
The benefits of returning for your senior season outweigh the risks; all it takes is one bad Summer League performance to label you a draft bust.
You stay in school and hopefully receive your degree, but still seniors are often overlooked in the draft for freshman players that have potential but haven’t really accomplished much on the court. Team executives get caught up with the possibilities from unproven talents that may not improve their team.
Too often, four-year starters never receive the proper recognition for developing their overall game in college, as their draft stock slips significantly each passing year.
Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher requested Shepard’s undergraduate evaluation of his overall game from NBA scouts, which provides no B.S., just an honest review on where he stands in terms of potential as an NBA player. This will help Shepard to block out all of the distractions and work on to improving his skills this summer.
The hope is to have a strong senior campaign and provide leadership to lead the Aztecs on another memorable NCAA tournament run. Hopefully, Shepard can finally silence his critics by becoming a more well-rounded player and show that he’s a legitimate NBA talent. Elevating his game to the next level should put him on the radar of many struggling franchises next spring.
Under the current rules of college basketball, you would be a fool not to seriously think about leaving school early. The thought of becoming an instant millionaire is very appealing, but the bigger question that needs to be answered is if your skill level is worthy of gaining a second NBA contract. If so, then you have the potential to make serious coin.
Unfortunately, too many college basketball players are unfinished works that aren’t given time to develop at the pro level, as their careers are over before they even started.
The NBA can wait, as it’s not going anywhere. It doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you get there. Right now, Winston Shepard is on the right road to success.
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