Should Andre stay or should he go? That is the question most common among CU basketball fans. It's not a clear decision, and it hasn't been announced yet by Andre. But that doesn't mean we won't discuss it. On the contrary- we will all discuss our preferred choice for a 21 year old man who we either want or do not want to eschew his career at Colorado to pursue the riches associated with playing professional basketball. A choice which we all wish had been available to us, but was not because we are short, slow, and bad at basketball. Some of us will be forever bitter because we could never dunk.
Andre should stay: Roberson is not projected as a 1st round pick, the gold standard for leaving school early. He is projected as a 2nd round pick or undrafted. Without that guarantee, he forgoes the contract received by say, Royce White, who would've been cut months ago if not for his guaranteed salary. He could spend his career in the D League or abroad and at best hope his career ends up something like that of Forever Buff Chris Copeland, who spent years toiling in the minor leagues at home and abroad before breaking into the NBA with the Knicks at age 29.
Further, he could be a part of a special team. The 13/14 Buffs team is currently listed as a 20:1 shot at the national championship. That is very strong. A team anchored by Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie and supplemented by Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, Askia Booker, Chris Jenkins, Jaron Hopkins, Jeremy Adams, Xavier Talton, Eli Stalzer, Dustin Thomas, and Tre'Shaun Fletcher could, on paper, compete for Pac 12 and national recognition. That's a load of talent that, if utilized correctly, could swarm most of our competition on both offense and defense. That's not a small consideration for anyone who wants to be a part of something special.
There's also something to be said about his game. Andre is a fantastic defender who can smother positions 2 through 5 in the college game depending on the matchup. He has proven adept at shutting down both wings and stretch 4s. But he needs to improve his ball handling, court vision, and midcourt shot. He could also improve on his post game and overall strength. Bottom line- there are plenty of reasons why Andre Roberson should return to CU.
But I don't think he should. And I don't think he will. Here's why:
First off, Andre's best friends on the team were Alec Burks and Shannon Sharpe. This is not to say that he's isolated or doesn't love his teammates. It's just to say that there's less incentive to stay when your best friends have moved on. Yes, his sister is still there on campus, destroying the competition as a forward for the CU women's team. We'll address that later.
He can get paid, right now. He's not projected as a 1st round pick, but it only takes one team to fall in love with you, and I fully believe that Andre's skill set is desirable in the NBA. A guy who can defend multiple positions, rebound, throw outlet passes, and knock down a corner 3 is something everyone needs and wants. And not just crappy teams- the Lakers could use him right now (although it's certainly arguable as to whether or not the Lakers are a crappy team).
Additionally, I don't see how his offensive game progresses to the point that NBA teams will love him any more than they do now. Dinwiddie will get more touches. Scott will get more touches. The new guys will get touches, and lord knows that Booker will get his touches. So what does that leave for Roberson? He could significantly improve his offensive game and it still wouldn't show up on the court.
For 3 years we've been saying the same thing- Andre needs to improve his offensive game and add weight. Well, where are we now? And why should we expect him to do in year 4 what he hasn't done in years 1-3? The NBA values potential far more than production in the draft. It's why Daniel Orton was a first round pick. Every year you spend in college is another knock against you. Ask Richard Roby, who would've been a first round pick as a sophomore but ended up undrafted as a senior. Would he have been a serviceable NBA player? Who knows?! But he would've gotten paid.
Furthermore, Andre is playing out of position in college. He's an NBA 3 playing college 4 because that's what's necessary. He's either guarding a guy like Mike Moser, who's similarly undersized, or guarding Allen Crabbe, who's going to be a 2 guard in the NBA. That's all fine. It shows he can guard multiple positions, but he's going to be an NBA 3 and needs to play against other NBA 3s, which are hard to come by in the NCAA grind. You can compare him to Kawhi Leonard (who couldn't shoot to save his life in college), Tony Allen, and Hakim Warrick. Andre is absolutely an NBA talent who will help a team. He'll still be playing out of position in the Pac 12 and still be hurting himself by doing so next year.
It's all about money. Like I said, Andre Roberson can get paid, right away. He might not be a first round pick, where the CBA mandates that a guy gets 2 years guaranteed. But increasingly, 2nd rounders are getting guaranteed money, especially college players. It's beneficial to the players- because they get paid, and it's beneficial to the clubs- because they retain players' rights after their rookie contracts. The concept that only 1st round picks get guaranteed money has been becoming increasingly archaic since Gilbert Arenas (although I'm guessing Washington was not too thrilled about that after the fact).
At the end of the day, Roberson has maxed out his potential in college. He can definitely get better, and I believe he will. He's my favorite player in Colorado history. But he has a fantastic support system around him, from Alec Burks in the NBA, to his coach in Tad Boyle, to his family, including his sister, who either is or was previously playing professional volleyball overseas. All of the options are open, available, and well known to Andre Roberson. He will make the best decision for him, but I feel like he is going pro.
UPDATE: See also Benjamin Burrows' hot take.