Should Brandon McCoy Go To The NBA Or Stay At UNLV?

For another year UNLV fans have spent most of March talking themselves into reasons why a potential NBA draft pick should dealy his professional career and come back to UNLV. 2018 brings us Brandon McCoy, a five-star seven-foot center who started the season with potential to be a first round pick.

After a college season that saw McCoy benched late in games due to his poor defense, his stock seems to have fallen to a point that going to the NBA right away could be the wrong career move. But why would playing for money be trumped by playing for free at UNLV? Here are UNLV fans’ opinions.

I am not sure if Ryan Coslow is a Doug Gottlieb pseudonym, but this is the opinion that got Gottlieb lectured by Shaun Manning, Brandon McCoy’s guardian, during the Mountain West Tournament.

It might be prophetic. McCoy had serious defensive issues at UNLV. Fellow freshman Mbacke Diong improved UNLV’s defense, which led to McCoy watching games from the bench in crunch time.

But McCoy is not likely to improve his defensive abilities at UNLV. 


McCoy defends like there is an invisible dog fence around the paint and he is the only one wearing a shock collar.

That is illegal defense in the NBA. One free throw and the ball for the opponent for defensive three seconds in the lane.

During conference play Marvin Menzies realized he had a major defensive problem. So he introduced a defense the he only described as a man-zone. The primary principle was for McCoy to stay in the paint near the basket and let the other four defenders switch and recover to who was open on the perimeter.

If McCoy returns to UNLV, he’ll be playing a defense that can’t be played in the NBA. There will be very minimal development on that end of the floor for McCoy.

To have shot in the NBA, McCoy has to show he can defend out to the perimeter and in the pick and roll. At UNLV, he’ll have no shot at improving those weaknesses.

In the G League, he will.

By the time he finishes his basketball career, McCoy might have enough money to choose UNLV’s president.

McCoy’s NBA potential rests on his offensive game. He was very good around the rim for UNLV this season. But he shot just nine threes for the Rebels.

The back to the basket post player is going extinct. What McCoy excels at is not valued in the NBA much. But the three pointer is.

The ability to shoot threes would give McCoy an extra dimension on offense that would further his potential ceiling as an NBA player.

The problem: Marvin Menzies won’t let his guards shoot many threes, let alone his 7-foot center.

UNLV ranked 334th in three-point rate (percentage of field goal attempts that are threes) last season. Only 27.7 percent of UNLV’s shots were threes; the national average is 37.5 percent.

In his 11 year career, Menzies has had just one team finish in the top 200 in three-point rate. Throughout the season Menzies alluded to McCoy working on threes in practice, but he can do that while getting paid next season.

Simply put, Menzies’ job is not to get McCoy ready for the NBA. He is here to make UNLV win. And that means limiting McCoy’s threes and the amount of time he has to defend outside of the paint.

If only there were good players in the NBA to watch. The Mountain West will set the world’s standard of basketball as soon as they add Gonzaga.

McCoy’s conditioning was a big question as he started his college career. But it didn’t factor in to outcomes very often. Is playing a 31-game schedule going to help him get in better shape than playing in an 82-game season?

After UNLV introduced their new logo last summer UNLV football and basketball played in uniforms that featured the old logo. The reason: the uniforms were ordered before the new logo was introduced, making it impossible to display the new logo. UNLV can’t use that excuse anymore.

This is one of the more interesting arguments. All of the reasons that revolve around McCoy needing to work on his game to selected higher are based on McCoy getting more money after getting picked higher in the 2019 draft than he would in the 2018 draft.

While McCoy isn’t a lock to improve his stock, his competition may dwindle in 2019.

The 2018 class may see 10 or more players listed at 6-foot-10 drafted in the first round. With DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Mohamed Bamba and Wendell Carter looking like top 10 picks, McCoy might not even crack the top five post players in the 2018 draft.

The 2019 class is setting up to be much weaker, especially in the front court, McCoy could simply hold steady as an NBA prospect and find himself among the top five bigs.

The main fear here is that McCoy has as great a chance to damage his NBA stock just as much as he does to improve it. If his defense shows no improvement next season, NBA teams may move on him.

McCoy is currently projected as a late first round or early second round pick for this season. The last pick of the first round is slated to make $1.16 million next season. The last lottery pick of 2019 (#14 overall) is looking at $2.39 million in year one.

That is more than double (and the contracts are worth more as the years go one) but every season McCoy stays at UNLV, he loses one year off of his money-making basketball career.

Kaminsky came out of Wisconsin as a senior and was selected ninth overall in the 2015 NBA draft. He improved his draft stock by finishing out his college eligibility. 

McCoy could be the next Kaminsky, but take a look at the current projected lottery in this NBA draft. Or any of the recent NBA drafts.

They are all filled with college freshmen and international players. Kaminsky was 1 of 3 non-freshman college players taken in the top 14 of his draft.

The idea that players improve their draft stock by returning to college to work on their game is mostly a myth. The college game and lifestyle does not prepare kids for the NBA.

And Kaminsky helped Wisconsin to the national title game, a place UNLV is unlikely to find itself next season.

While Anthony Bennett’s NBA career didn’t work out, he has still made an estimated $16.5 million from NBA teams in four season. That seems to be somewhere in between $1 million and $50 million.

Chris Wood has made $1.1 million from NBA teams the past two seasons, which does not include his G League pay or training camp pay.

But the logic behind this reason is faulty. If McCoy is good enough to have a $50 million career, he’ll stick in the NBA whether he goes pro this year or in the future. His NBA career is not dependent on one more season at UNLV.


McCoy has until April 22 to declare for the NBA draft. He can go through the NBA combine (May 16-20) and still retain his college eligibility. If he does decide to stick at UNLV after going through the pre-draft process, he has to withdraw from the NBA draft June 11.

Vegas Seven


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