Evanson Column: Bol Bol? No, no
It was recently suggested that the Trail Blazers could take a flyer on the University of Oregon's Bol Bol if he slides — as some have predicted — in the NBA draft's first round this Thursday, June 20. My advice to the Blazers: run, run and run some more.
NBC Sports' Rob Dauster was on Rip City Radio's Brian Noe Show this past Monday and suggested that all 7-foot-2, 210 pounds of Mr. Bol would be a quality consideration for Portland if the former five-star recruit fell to the Blazers' at the No. 25 pick.
Bol averaged 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in Eugene. He also shot 56 percent from the field, 52 percent from the three-point line, and 76 percent from the free throw line, and was considered a top-five pick had he been eligible for last year's NBA draft coming out of high school. But, despite his high-level performance at Oregon, his season was cut dramatically short as the result of a stress fracture in his foot after just nine games.
So, a 7-foot (plus) post player with history of a lower leg injury, taken in the first round by a team seemingly cursed by the ghost of Christmas past . . . what could go wrong?
After-all, this is a franchise who lost number one overall pick Bill Walton to a chronically broken foot after just 209 games, number two overall pick Sam Bowie to a broken leg after just 139 games, and number one overall pick and "can't miss prospect" Greg Oden to a series of knee injuries after just 82 games — not to mention the gruesome lower leg injury to budding star center Jusuf Nurkic last year in just his second full season in Portland.
Throw in Dauster's assessment of Bol:
"I'm not convinced that he actually loves basketball.
"I'm not convinced that he actually wants to work and get better.
"And I'm not convinced he has the desire or any ability to be the defender you need to be at the position he'll end up playing."
And you'd have a decision that rates somewhere between terrible and "you've got to be frickin' kidding me!"
As an Oregon fan I was psyched when they landed the blue-chip center. He, coupled with fellow five-star recruit Louis King, were supposed to be the pillars with which the Ducks would build around en route to another Final Four appearance. But a year-and-a-half after he made his commitment to the university, the school's basketball program got little more than a sideshow on the court, and a black cloud of suspicion off of it.
Bol is one of a handful of players implicated in Michael Avenatti's 41-page document alleging payments between Nike executives and college basketball recruits. In his document, Avenatti claims to have evidence linking the Beaverton based company with Bol's "handler," Melvin McDonald. Sadly, news of such alleged misdealings aren't really news to anyone who follows the sport, after-all, Adidas has been mired in a similar case involving several other colleges and recruits since a federal investigation broke late in 2017. Since, three people, including Adidas executive James Gatto, have been convicted and sentenced to prison for their part in the scandal. Also, the NCAA has recently made it clear that they plan to crack-down hard on any schools that they subsequently find involved in such behavior, leaving Oregon in a precarious position pertaining to young Bol.
So, if Bol is found to have been involved in such misdealings, Oregon is implicated and reprimanded by the NCAA, and then the Blazers draft him and march him out in front of 20,000 Oregonians — half of which are likely Duck fans — on 41 separate occasions over the life of an NBA season, mayhem will likely ensue.
That won't likely be good for the young man, and most definitely won't be good for the team that employs him.
Heard enough? I have. So between the franchise's history, the mystery surrounding Bol, and the potentially impending doom barreling down the NCAA tracks, I say run, Blazers — hard and fast.