As you know by now, the San Antonio Spurs selected Deshaun Thomas from Ohio State with the 58th pick in the NBA Draft. Turns out Thomas wasn't the Spurs' preferred sharpshooter. Syracuse.com reports San Antonio initially had their sights set on forward James Southerland.
San Antonio was set to pick Syracuse's James Southerland at No. 58, but wanted him to spend year in Europe. Source says he/agent declined.— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) June 28, 2013
Southerland isn't that different a player than Thomas. A better shooter, but not as versatile a scorer. He's a little bigger and a slightly more agile athlete. Still, there's not much of a difference.
It's possible Southerland didn't want to play for the Spurs, though I doubt it. The more likely scenario is either Southerland has no interest in going to Europe and I really can't blame a 22 or 23 year old kid for not wanting to live thousands of miles away from home. Or his agent knows Southerland will get a Summer League and camp invite from another team that won't ask him to go to Europe.
The next question is whether the Spurs are going to ask Thomas to do the same? His game, good shooting and bad perimeter defense, will do just fine in Europe. It'll save the Spurs some money in the short term, it will presumably help Thomas develop. But we probably won't know anything until after Summer League.