by: Steve Tichenor
It’s wonderful that Corey Sanders is chasing his NBA dreams but at this time the odds were stacked against him. There are only two rounds in the NBA draft. That’s just 60 players.
Only 67 players were invited to the NBA combine and Sanders wasn’t one of them. You also have to factor in the overseas players. If you add it all up, Sanders’ chance of being drafted were slim to none.
Sanders was invited to work out with only one NBA team, the Sacramento Kings. So, last week, when it was reported that he was leaning toward entering the draft, one couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking. Only one word came to mind, mistake. Fortunately Corey talked to the right people, received the right advice and announced his return to Rutgers.
Let’s be clear, this Rutgers alum is a big Corey Sanders fan. He is a gifted athlete and a better than average D1 college basketball player. He is far and away Rutgers’ best player and a key factor if they want to rise from the basement in the BIG 10. Perhaps I have selfish motives, but Rutgers needs Corey Sanders and if Sanders wants to keep his NBA dreams alive he needs Rutgers.
The stage is set. If Sanders wants to impress the NBA scouts he needs to dominate the BIG 10. If he succeeds in doing that the NBA will likely come calling. He has the platform, and in Steve Pikiell, he has the coach who could very well get him to the next level.
Sanders’ offensive numbers actually fell off from his freshman year. It was not a concern because Sanders had to get acclimated to Pikiell’s system which revolved more around a team concept. He actually stepped up his defensive game considerably. But there is plenty to work on; moving to his left, playing under control, making good decisions, eliminating turnovers, sharper passing and working on a mid-range jumper. Can he even hit an NBA three?
I’ll take it a step further. This is a two year program from here, so forget about next year’s draft too. I know, fat chance, but as I have written in a previous blog, Sanders needs a full college career for a chance to fulfill his NBA dream. I don’t see him breaking into the top 60 players in the country next season either. Getting ahead of himself will not serve his dream. Working hard under Pikiell again this year and laying it all out as a senior, with a full grasp of the system and hopefully better players around him, will.
His performance against Big 10 competition will get him the most notice. I think he’ll be better this year with the chance to shine in 2018- 2019. That’s his road to the NBA. And Oh, it won’t hurt to have a degree if things don’t work out.
But now I’m the one getting ahead of myself. So let’s take it one year at a time. Great to have you back Corey!