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Dominic Cheek declares for NBA Draft

April 17, 2012

(Note: This article was published in the 4/17 edition of The Villanova Times, which is why I waited until today to post it.)

Villanova guard Dominic Cheek has decided to forego his senior year in order to enter the upcoming NBA Draft, according to several online sources.

Mike Kern of philly.com first reported on April 11 that Cheek was leaning toward leaving school. The next day, national media outlets CBS Sports and ESPN declared the move official, providing quotes from Cheek and Villanova head coach Jay Wright.

“I appreciate all the help I have gotten from my teammates, coaches and friends during my time at Villanova,” Cheek said. “At this point in my life, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family. I am excited to get started with the process of pursuing my dream of playing in the NBA.”

Wright gave a similarly standard response.

“We support Dominic in his decision,” Wright said. “We will assist him as he goes through the process of preparing for the draft and his professional career.”

The quotes shed no light on a perplexing situation. Two of the internet’s top databases for NBA Draft prospects, draftexpress.com and nbadraft.net, barely have Cheek on their radar.

On a list updated on April 5, draftexpress.com ranked Cheek 43rd on a list of college juniors. With only 60 picks in the NBA Draft and plenty of talented seniors, sophomores, freshmen and international players also in the draft pool, the odds of Cheek being selected are slim, at best.

While neither website has written specifically about Cheek since his performance in a 2009 showcase for the top high school seniors in the country, he was mentioned briefly earlier this year in a Big East blog on nbadraft.net, in a section on the top backcourts in the conference.

“Dominic Cheek,” it reads, “has been spotty as a junior, but possesses good size and athleticism for an off-ball guard.”

Cheek’s size and athleticism were big reasons behind his inclusion in the 2009 McDonald’s High School All-American Game, perhaps the most prestigious showcase for high school players. But Cheek was never able to translate his physical gifts into the superstar-level of production typically expected of McDonald’s All-Americans.

His lack of effectiveness can be partially traced to his lack of aggressiveness on offense. Despite his size, above-average dribbling skills and a good percentage from the free-throw line, Cheek settled for distant jump shots, taking 178 three-point attempts last year and making only 52 (a 32 percent success rate).

Fans will remember one particularly inexplicable three-point attempt at the end of a game against Marquette on Jan. 28. With the Wildcats down three with about 30 seconds to go, Cheek hoisted a rushed, turnaround three at the beginning of the shot clock that clanged off the iron and into the hands of Marquette’s Vander Blue.

The news of Cheek’s departure comes less than a month after point guard Maalik Wayns announced his plans to leave school. Wayns was another participant in the 2009 McDonald’s showcase and, with Cheek, was part of a recruiting class that was ranked third in the nation by rivals.com. Now that three-fourths of that class has left before graduation—forward Isaiah Armwood transferred to George Washington before last season—center Mouphtaou Yarou is the only member of that class left.

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