A special thanks to Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz for this guest column on today's NBA Draft. Michael ran a weekly column for the Daily Trojan over the past 2 1/2 years before graduating this May. Over those years, he did a fantastic job writing about 'SC sports; therefore, I hope you enjoy his take on USC and the Draft.
It's odd for me to think of Dwight Lewis in the 2010 NBA Draft because around this time last year, I was watching the Draft with him. Well, sort of.
A power outage last year left me with limited options for watching the draft. Shortly before it started, a friend and I found salvation at The Lab. As we pleaded the bartender to change switch stations from the incessant Michael Jackson coverage, we received some help from Dwight. The three of us parked ourselves there for most of the first round.
My friend and I tried not to bother Dwight too much, but it was interesting to hear his insight on each ones of the draftees. Dwight came across as honest but diplomatic.
Draft day probably won't be as eventful for either of us this time around. Dwight's name probably won't be called, though he certainly could sneak into the late second round. Marcus Johnson and Mike Gerrity are also thought to be fringe prospects at best. But the professionalism that all three displayed at USC could prove vital in continuing their respective basketball careers.
Lewis's athleticism doesn't indicate an NBA prospect. He doesn't have an NBA-level skill to tout. But he still has plenty to pitch to any team that might be interested. Lewis could be Marcus Thornton-lite, an undersized two guard with some shortcomings but a player capable of scoring in bunches off the bench. Going undrafted and finding the right team after the draft might be optimal for him. One way or another, he should surface with a summer league team.
Johnson can sell NBA teams on two things: his athleticism and his defense. Small forwards who have both are a desired commodity in the NBA. But Johnson will have to prove that he's not an offensive liability when he's on the floor. He'll most likely have to spend a few years overseas or in the basketball purgatory that is the D-League.
Gerrity would be easy to cast aside because he doesn't fit the bill of a typical NBA point guard. But that may also work in his favor. For whatever shortcomings he has, Gerrity is still a phenomenal playmaker. The league's recent movement toward smaller point guards capable of breaking down defenses should work in his favor. And in a draft short on point guards, Gerrity might show enough to catch someone's eye.
None of USC's departing seniors are going to have the cushy start to a career that awaited the school's recent draft prospects. But all three have the professionalism and drive to make the most out of whatever opportunity awaits them. Having the right mindset and attitude is an essential part of clawing your way up from being an undrafted player. No matter what happens in his playing career, Gerrity comes across as someone who could thrive in either a front office or coaching position when he gets older.
Tomorrow will probably not be the optimal start to a basketball career for Lewis, Johnson or Gerrity. But it doesn't have to be the end, either.
If you want more, feel free to follow him on twitter as well @MikeMSchwartz