As Chase Budinger continues his workout tour for NBA teams, Arizona coach Lute Olson remains convinced the forward would be better off returning for his junior year.
“I personally think it would be ridiculous for him to go out somewhere around 20 or 21, when a year from now he could be in the top six,” Olson said.
“Sometimes, guys don’t think of the marketing end of it. But you don’t get picked around 20 and have any marketing opportunities.
“(UA freshman) Jerryd (Bayless), coming out as the fourth or fifth pick . . . adidas and Nike are both after him hard right now. He’s going to make a lot of money in marketing. But that’s not available to Chase, whereas next year it would be.”
Budinger, who has not hired an agent, can withdraw from the NBA draft before June 16. He worked out for the New York Knicks earlier this week and the New Jersey Nets on Friday. He has several more workouts scheduled before the deadline.
Olson said he and his coaching staff “right now can’t get a feel either direction” on which way Budinger is leaning. Much will depend on how those workouts go.
“Budinger was more athletic than I thought,” Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe told NBA.com after Friday’s workout.
“I watched Arizona five or six times this year, a couple times in person, and what he showed today was that he was a little bit more athletic. . . .
“He can really jump, very quick and his shot is different but it goes in.”
Budinger averaged 17.1 points and 5.4 rebounds last season, playing in interim head coach Kevin O’Neill’s slower-paced offense that relied on set plays.
Olson envisions a UA scenario in which Budinger is playing a wide-open game, getting the ball from a backcourt of junior Nic Wise and freshman Brandon Jennings, who reportedly still has some academic work to do this summer.
“To be able to play at a wing with those two guards, Chase would have an unbelievable year,” Olson said. “I’m just so confident that if he comes back he’s going to be a top six pick in the draft next year.”