- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

Top Pro Basketball Prospect Tests European Waters

New America Media, News Analysis, Donal Brown Posted: Jul 15, 2008

Editor's Note: For top basketball players, college may not be the best choice, says New America Media reporter Donal Brown, a sports fan for more than 60 years.

SAN FRANCISCO A highly regarded point guard from Los Angeles, who signed with Arizona, has opted to play in a European professional league next year, creating much anxiety among college coaches.

Under National Basketball Association rules, the player, Brandon Jennings, who just graduated from high school, will not be eligible for the draft until after his freshman year in college. So Jennings is foregoing the year at Arizona to play for one year in Europe, before entering the NBA draft in 2009.

In Europe, Jennings will earn at least $300,000. This establishes a welcome precedent and alternative to the charade of the NCAA student athlete.

For a player of Jennings capabilities, college may not be the best choice. As a premier athlete he would have generated close to $1 million revenue for Arizona during his freshman year. But would he have been compensated in kind?

A college graduate will earn about $900,000 more than a high school graduate during his working lifetime, but less than 50 percent of basketball players ever graduate from college. And since Jennings stands to earn millions when he turns pro, he has even less incentive to graduate.

Suppose he did take his freshman year at Arizona. He would have received a scholarship providing health care and tuition, as well as room and board. He would have received free academic tutoring and benefited from top flight coaching. Still, all the compensation would only amount to a fraction of $1 million. And although the Arizona coaching is excellent, in Europe he will be coached in how to play the European brand of team basketball that could be invaluable seasoning for a point guard.

Plus, if Jennings had stayed at Arizona, he would have had to abide by NCAA rules. He could not have transferred without waiting out a year. He could not have received any extra benefits, which means that he could not profit from endorsements or be given spending money, a car or other transportation.

Naturally, American college coaches argue against players going to Europe. They say that basketball players just out of high school would be competing against older, seasoned, and more physically imposing players. But for players like Jennings and young Europeans beginning their careers in Europe, it will be a welcome challenge, an opportunity to hit the weight room to gain strength, and to learn how to use their athleticism speed, shooting and ball handling abilities to become competitive.

The coaches also warn that the language barrier and cultural differences would make it hard for a young American player. In reality, it would not be any more difficult for these players than attending an American college to play ball.

The so-called student athletes attend classes and then spend much of the rest of the day in practices, meetings, and weight room sessions, a demanding schedule. In Europe, Jennings will have plenty of time to learn the language and culture at a leisurely pace.

Some may argue that Jennings will be without support in a foreign country. Yet with his European contract, Jennings has the means to take his mother, or some other responsible, caring adult from his family circle, to live with him in Europe.

There is precedent for this. When Joe Smith signed a contract in 1995 with the Golden State Warriors after his sophomore year at Maryland, he roomed with his mother during his first year in the NBA. Although Smith never became a star, he has made a good living in the league, and is still playing after 13 seasons.

In this Junes NBA draft, college freshmen made up the first three picks for the first time ever. It is apparent that these elite athletes had no real interest in college and left at the first opportunity to sign million-dollar contracts in the NBA.

It would also be better for the colleges if prospective students had the option of going to Europe. As it stands, colleges spend significant amounts of money on recruiting and training ballplayers, only to see them bolt for the pros after only one year. It is difficult to build a team when players leave so quickly.

Lute Olson, who would have coached Jennings at Arizona, wants to change the rules to allow elite high school players to join the NBA immediately after high school, or commit to two years of college.

If Jennings does well in Europe and is drafted high in the 2009 NBA draft, look for more players to skip college to go to Europe for their year of seasoning. It would open another option for the elite athletes now limited by NCAA rules and exploited by colleges.

Related Articles:

NCAA Must Stop Exploiting Black Athletes

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Arts & Entertainment