Dear Shavlik Randolph,
Your college career was uglier than Brad Lidge in the 9th inning-at least as of late-but congratulations, you made it to the NBA.
Your shot was useless from both the perimeter and around the basket, and you didn't have the lateral movement to defend anyone-not even my dad scrimmaging in a bagels-and-basketball Sunday league.
You suffered more injuries than Allan Houston (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration), and Coach K decided to go with five guards instead of substituting you into the Sweet 16 game against Michigan State last season when Shelden Williams fouled out of your final game as a Blue Devil.
You came to Duke after a brilliant high school career that spurred a fierce recruiting battle among the nation's elite programs-particularly between Duke, North Carolina, and N.C. State.
UNC's former head coach Matt Doherty desperately wanted you to become a Tar Heel, so he sent you a picture of Michael Jordan in the "Shav Country" shirts that had become popular at your high school, Broughton. You were a can't-miss prospect-your grandfather Ronnie Shavlik was even an All-American center at N.C. State. And you never lived up to the hype.
But Shav, that's all in the past. Your contract with the Philadelphia 76ers guarantees you at least the league minimum, which is more than $398,000. And as you celebrate your NBA contract, you are the one laughing now. MTV Cribs, quality time with Philadelphia's own Stephen A. Smith, and nights out with Allen Iverson lie on the horizon.
But the bottom line is that you will not be missed on this Duke basketball team. You left Durham knowing it would be a struggle to log minutes as a Blue Devil because you lacked a clear-cut role. The talented lefty freshman Josh McRoberts was a lock for playing time, especially with his freakish athletic abilities. And Eric Boateng, who in Saturday's Blue-White Scrimmage appeared less raw and unfinished than people originally thought, is more than capable of spelling Williams for a couple minutes each game.
During extended stretches last year, Williams did a fine job holding his own as the only man under the basket, and based on early preseason polls, the Blue Devils are the clear No. 1 team in the nation, even after your departure.
When you left, heads were turned but no tears were shed. People were confused why a player who struggled to log minutes in college would decide to declare for the NBA, but no one was upset that you left.
You really needed a change, and so did Duke fans. It may almost be a blessing that you are in the NBA because the talented class of 2009 will develop that much faster without scrapping with you for minutes.
I suppose you'll get a chance to show Coach K that he never allowed you to showcase your skills, and that columnists like me should shut up already.
You may even be able to erase the memory of your collegiate stat line-6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game-with a respectable NBA showing. But that won't happen just yet-first you'll have to conquer yet another injury.
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