Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Let's talk about entering the NBA Draft early. No, first let's talk about how I'm already back to writing about professional basketball. Weird, right? But for some reason (although none were given to me on my earlier blog post), people seem to love this league. It's been all "Lakers are losers" and "Heat are in it to win it" lately on ESPN, so I'm sucking it up and giving the people what they want.

This weekend many college basketball fans and coaches waited anxiously to see which previously draft- bound players would actually remain declared or would come back to play another season in school. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was one of those fans. As the Mountaineer Nation out there know, one of our own (Kevin Jones) was testing the professional waters. Will Kevin stay? Will he leave? Will Huggs have anyone left to field a team next season? Can I eat just one more cookie tonight without exploding? These questions swirled around my head until finally, at around 8 pm on Sunday evening, this popped up in my twitter feed:

Good to know the boy has just as many conversations in his head as I do...makes him relatable, ya know?
well I been going backand forth with this in my head and I feel this is the right decision im comin back 4 my senior year
WVU's Kevin Jones will return for his senior season
Excited and relieved,  I immediately retweeted the message and then called my mother to tell her (she thinks KJ is her honorary son after meeting him his freshman year in Eat N Park...don't ask). In retrospect, I probably should have switched that order, but my mom's not going to make me famous and Twitter might. Priorities.

KJ joined a small list of returning players including Pitt's Ashton Gibbs, UK's Terrence Jones, and UC Santa Barbara's Orlando Johnson. Of course, there was seemingly twice as many underclassmen who decided to take the plunge. So the question is....what are the pros and cons of entering the draft early?

It's hard for me to sit here and justify those that do enter the draft before finishing school (but I'll try, bear with me). One, I'm selfish. I like to see players I've invested in stay for as long as they're eligible. Two, college degrees are important. Sure, you can always go back to school, but it gets harder and harder the longer you're away from that environment. Three, as I've mentioned before, something gets lost in translation between college and the NBA. College is about winning as a team. The NBA is about salary negotiations. (Don't get me wrong...I love money and making money and wish I was a 6'5"+ super talented athlete so I could be earning LOTS of money). It's just harder to be emotionally invested in one player rather than a whole team.

On that note, I can see the other side, and it's all about the Benjamins. A lot of these kids would be foolish to turn down guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts. And sometimes, your talent has reached a level where experience to be gained doesn't outweigh the possibility of a career- ending injury.

Of course, I'm not sure you can make that argument with our one-and-doners such as UK's Brandon Knight and Duke's Kyrie Irving. I know that these guys have to be at least a year removed from high school before they're draft eligible, but play overseas or in the D-League instead of wasting valuable scholarship dollars, mmkay? You don't HAVE to pretend to go to college just to play in the NBA.

And one paragraph rant on people who are using universities as a time-waster is now concluded. You're welcome.

Clearly, I'm not re-inventing the wheel here with this post. These pros and cons have been rehashed millions of times. I'd have eventually wished KJ well should he have chosen differently (though, probably after months of cursing his name to anyone who'd listen). All self-involved interest aside, I do sincerely think he made the smart choice. His last season will give him the opportunity to develop and reach the potential that we all see in him.

To all of you out there who weren't so lucky....cheer up. You've still got a whole six months before basketball season starts. There will be much more to fret about in the sports world between now and then!

Thanks to for the image.


Anonymous said...

The NCAA is a professional sports league where everyone gets paid except the athletes. I think anyone over 21 should be allowed to sign with an agent, enter the draft, and return to college ball if not signed by the pros.

Sports o Nista said...

Agreed about the NCAA being a free developmental league for professional sports. I recommend reading Rick Telander's book The 100 Yard Lie. He makes a compelling case for making a paid league out of the elite NCAA football and basketball programs in the country.

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