2012 NBA Draft Forecast – Wesley Witherspoon
When Wesley Witherspoon committed to the Memphis Tigers before the 2008-2009 season the sky was the limit. The Tigers were coming off a trip to the Final Four, star guard Derrick Rose was off to the NBA as the No. 1 pick, and Witherspoon was a highly rated recruit ready to play.
Coming out of Georgia as a top high school prospect Witherspoon would team with Tyreke Evans and Roburt Sallie as an exciting freshman trio.
The dream was short lived however as after his freshman season Evans was off to the NBA and Coach John Calipari took over at Kentucky as the head coach. “I thought about going with Cal, but me and my family talked about it and I decided it was best for me to stay at the University of Memphis because that was who I had signed to play for.”
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In staying at Memphis Witherspoon played three years with a coach who did not recruit him and had trouble adapting to the new style right away. It was put out there in the media that the coach and the player were not seeing eye-to-eye.
That is something Witherspoon was adamant about being false:
“Coach Pastner’s coaching style was different than Cal’s and I had to adjust to my new role. Coach and I have a good relationship on and off the court.”
After his first year with Coach Pastner – his sophomore year at Memphis – Witherspoon thought about making the jump to the NBA. He was a versatile wing that could knock down the NBA three. The opportunity was there. Instead, after talking with his family he decided to stay in school and work on his game.
Those extra three years were key for Witherspoon as he continued to work on his maturity and mental toughness on and off the court. Playing in the NBA is about more than talent. If you don’t “get it” then you fizzle out like many former prospects that had all the talent in the world, but their head was not in the game.
That side of the game is the one Witherspoon is confident he has improved on the most in four years at Memphis.
Witherspoon is another player forgotten about because he played for four years in college on a team that didn’t win a lot of tournament games. It is a part of the flawed system of scouting. The more you play, the more time NBA decision makers have to poke at the flaws in your game.
In the end Witherspoon is an NBA athlete, a shooter with deep range, and an underrated defender that can get after an opposing player.
That describes about half of the players in the NBA today. Witherspoon is another sleeper that will make one NBA team very happy they woke up and saw his game.