Temple’s chances of attaining a Top 25 preseason ranking in men’s basketball next year recently took a major hit, as three-year starter Kevin Lyde opted to forgo his senior season to enter the NBA draft.

Temple’s chances of attaining a Top 25 preseason ranking in men’s basketball next year recently took a major hit, as three-year starter Kevin Lyde opted to forgo his senior season to enter the NBA draft.

The six-foot-nine, 260-pound center led the nation in offensive rebounding last season with 4.5 per game, and finished third on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game. Lyde also led the Owls in overall rebounding (8.9 per game) for the second consecutive season, and block shots (71) for a third year in a row.

“It was a late decision, but playing in the NBA has always been my dream,” Lyde said. “The whole year I was thinking I wanted to come back to school. But I see this as my window of opportunity, and sometimes you have to fly right through it.”

His strong showing in this year’s NCAA tournament should help improve his stock for the June 27th NBA Draft. In his last game as a collegiate, Lyde scored 21 points on 10 of 15 shooting in an Elite Eight loss against top-seeded Michigan State.

His resume includes two Atlantic 10 second-team honors (2000, 2001), an all-A-10 Tournament Team (2001), and a spot on the NCAA South Regional All-Tournament Team with his performances against Penn State and Michigan State.

“In all my years here, I have never had a player of Kevin’s magnitude play for me,” Temple head coach John Chaney said. “He has the best hands I’ve ever seen, and they won’t have to worry about his rebounding ability. I think he’s going to be a very special player, but a good coach is going to have to look at him.”

With the Owls supposedly bringing back four of five starters from this year’s Elite Eight team, some early prognosticators had Temple ranked as high as 19th. But Lyde’s departure will leave a big void in the middle that will be tough to replace. He will be the fourth player to leave early in John Chaney’s 19 seasons at Temple, and the second in two years.

A projected power forward at the next level, Lyde said he doesn’t have a clue where he currently stands in the draft. has Lyde projected in the early-to-middle second round, but all of that can change depending on how quickly he heals from his Achilles injury and what he does in the camps leading up to the draft.

(bold) College basketball notebook

Speaking of draft camps, Temple senior Quincy Wadley performed very well at the Portsmouth Invitational last week in Virginia. Wadley was among the leading scorers in the tournament. He averaged 18.7 points per game, and defended well against other NBA hopefuls.

Wadley’s performance should get him invited to the next camp in Phoenix on May 1st, with a chance to further impress the NBA brass.

With the May 13th deadline fast approaching, many underclassmen are joining Lyde to chase NBA dreams.

Locally, Villanova’s Michael Bradley, as well as former Roman Catholic and Seton Hall star Eddie Griffin, have both declared for early entry.

Despite being double and triple-teamed all season, Bradley demonstrated a nice, polished game throughout the season that should guarantee him a place in the Top 20, while teams are absolutely chomping at the bit to make the super-talented Griffin a top five selection.

Three Final Four players are also leaving school early in Michigan State’s Jason Richardson, and Arizona’s Richard Jefferson and Michael Wright. All three players are highly athletic and could easily be lottery picks if they stayed another year.

As of now, all three players are projected by most scouts to go in the middle-to-late first round, considering their stock doesn’t rise or fall dramatically after the pre-draft camps.

Two-time All-American forward Troy Murphy declared for the draft on Tuesday, but insisted that he will not hire an agent because he is heavily considering a return to Notre Dame with hopes of winning a national title.

Murphy said that recent stories like Shane Battier and Mateen Cleaves have him leaning toward staying, but he wants to test his worth in the draft market anyway.

If Murphy stays, he has a chance to become the first three-time All-American since Patrick Ewing in 1985.

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