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Reason's Jakob Poeltl Should Have Gone Pro

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ute Nation was no doubt excited when Jakob Poeltl announced on Monday that he would be returning for his sophomore year at the University of Utah. Coaches and teammates alike most likely shared that excitement. It is likely a good thing for all of them, but the burning question is, was it the best thing for Jakob Poeltl?

Many assumed Poeltl was headed for the NBA Draft after a pretty good freshman campaign, and numerous opportunities to showcase himself on the national stage versus ranked teams. It came down to one big matchup in the Sweet 16 where Jakob found himself going up against Jahlil Okafor - a player who many predict could go No 1 in the NBA draft in June. Poeltl stood his ground, and proved he could play with the best. His performance in that game versus Duke put to rest many doubts scouts had about how well his game could translate to the NBA. Poeltl would have likely been a lottery pick this upcoming draft, and passed up a lot of money.

One might say that he will be able to get that money next season, along with another year of tutelage under Larry Krystkowiak, who is a coach with an NCAA and NBA resume. That is true, but one can point to examples like Andrew Bogut. A former Utah big man who decided to stick around another year, despite the fact he was a possible first round selection after his freshman year. Instead of a first round pick, he turned that sophomore year into a No 1 overall selection. A similar scenario could happen for Poeltl, but for every Andrew Bogut, there's a Harold Arceneaux.

Harold Arceneaux was a forward at Weber State, and he, alongside future NBA player Eddie Gill, had the opportunity to play spoiler in the NCAA tournament as the 14 seed Wildcats knocked out the 3 seed North Carolina Tar Heels out of the first round. North Carolina had no answer for Arceneaux who put up 36 points that night. A display that boldly thrust him into the national spotlight. After a close overtime loss to Mike Miller and the Florida Gators, draft boards had Arceneaux as a sure first round draft pick. He decided to stay at Weber State another year, but didn't replicate the same numbers the following season. He missed out on a big opportunity, and never got the opportunity to play in the NBA spending most of his career in Europe. Likely throwing away millions with his decision to return to Weber State.

One can also look at a player like Greg Oden. He left Ohio State after his freshman year, and was the No 1 pick in the NBA draft. He got injured in the summer league, and never was able to live up to the expectations of a top pick. If Oden had returned for his sophomore year, he may have gotten injured in college, and never panned out before making it to the NBA. A move that would have been great for the Portland Trailblazers, who would have probably taken Kevin Durrant, who ended going No 2 to Seattle. It would have been terrible for Oden, who would have missed out on that NBA paycheck.

Poeltl is taking a risk of missing out on money. He probably won't have the struggle of falling out of the spotlight like Arceneaux did.  Jakob will be playing for Utah who has a number of marquee matchups as well as a Pac 12 schedule in 2015-2016. It is a risk, however, but evidently a risk he's willing to take. A risk that Utah is glad he's taking.