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When in Rome

Sure, the NBA draft is a global dance. But this year's installment features an interesting Italian subplot.

But while Tyler is heading overseas, Jennings is already home. And his Roman tenure can hardly be regarded as an unqualified success. Jennings played sparingly — only about 17 minutes a game — with Lottomatica Roma, a middling Italian team, and averaged only 5.5 points and 2.2 assists. The question now is did he help himself, as he believed he would, or did he, by facing pros, expose the flaws in his game before inking a fat contract with the NBA? And if indeed the latter, will he slip far enough in the draft to cost him far more than that fat year’s earnings in Europe.

Before he departed for greener shores, Jennings was considered a lock to be a top 10 draft pick, maybe even a top fiver. Now if you check out the mock drafts that try to make a science, or at least some sense, out of raw basketball talent, there is a no longer a consensus on Jennings. My own survey of a dozen mock drafts in the basketball blogosphere showed him going as high as fourth (to Sacramento) and as low as 17th (to Philadelphia); three prognosticators had him headed to Minnesota on the sixth pick, another three had him booked to Indiana with the 13th.

The difference between fourth and 17th, or even sixth and 13th, is more money than most folks will make in a lifetime. The European option has already diminished because of recessionary factors as well as Jennings’ lack of bang for his bucks. If he winds up on the shorter end of the NBA money for having chosen it, that door may be completely shut.

America’s most talented young hoopsters may not always be academic superstars, but most of them can add up millions. They may decide it is better to maintain the home-court advantage and remain in the more comfortable, as well as more flattering, limelight at home.

Read more from GlobalPost sports columnist Mark Starr:

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