I’m finding a rather unusual trend with some of the top college basketball players stalling on making their decisions to leave college early in favor of NBA paychecks. The unanimous first overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft is Kentucky’s John Wall, who has said that he isn’t positive that he will leave Kentucky after only one season as most have expected. In fact Wall is staying enrolled at the university through the next semester in an effort to complete as much as possible before he does eventually leave Kentucky for the NBA. Wall said that he is going to stick to his word of completing his degree regardless of whether he leaves after one year or two, a promise he made to his father who has since passed away.
It’s not just Wall though, the expected second pick in the draft is Ohio State’s Evan Turner (just named AP Player of the Year) who is also apprently on the fence about his future, but Turner’s decision has to do more with winning a national championship than does Wall’s. The Buckeyes fell short this year, but with Turner’s four fellow starters all returning, not to mention a top recruiting class by Thad Matta, including Jared Sullinger, the co-MVP of the McDonalds All American game (which by the way was hosted this week at Ohio State’s gym), the Buckeyes would have to be the favorites in 2011 if Turner was to stay.
It’s shocking to hear that both Turner and Wall are seriously considering returning to play another year of amateur basketball, all while knowing that they’d be drafted amongst the top two picks in the draft. Perhaps both of these kids are playing basketball because they actually love it and winning a national championship is true goal of theirs, especially since both the Buckeyes and the Wildcats didn’t advance as far in the NCAA Tournament as they had hoped.
When the time comes down to making the decision to return to school for another season or go to the NBA, to me the answer is simple. People go to college to get a “better” job than if they didn’t. You enroll at a college or university that you believe will get you where you want to be in your career. Whether you go to school to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, investment broker, etc… you’re goal is to get a good job, a high paying job if possible. Say you were in business school student in your junior year and perhaps a big company like CitiBank offered you your dream job a year before you graduated. Would you turn it down to continue your studies? No way! You’d take that job right away. With or without the degree completed. And that’s exactly how I feel about kids leaving college early to pursue their dreams and financial stability by leaving early and heading to the NBA.
While I credit John Wall, Evan Turner, and a few others for not immediately declaring their intentions following their team’s last game of the season, my advice to all to them, especially those guaranteed to be picked in the lottery or the 1st round is to leave school and enter the NBA. Injuries, accidents, freak things all happen and all of those are more likely to happen on a college campus where there’s thousands of 18-22 years olds that make up the community. Get out while you’re hot and begin your career, which is why kids like Turner and Wall go to college, to showcase their skills for the next level of play. If you’re guaranteed to be a top two pick, there should be no hesitation in your decision, make the “smart” choice and start your professional career.
In other college basketball news, tomorrow begins the next wave of games in the NCAA Tournament and we’re down to the four remaining teams still fighting for a national championship. Here’s my take on what to expect tomorrow:
#5 Butler vs. #5 Michigan State (-1): This is a matchup that nobody ever imagined, but after surving some very tough teams the Bulldogs and Spartans are one win away from playing for the national championship. The Butler Bulldogs are riding the nation’s longest winning streak (24 games) and look to keep their magical season alive, a season that has them playing in their home state for the national championship.
While it’s a great story to tell about the Bulldogs from the Horizon League making it to Indy, I think their season ends tomorrow against the Spartans. Big games, big venues, big pressure…no problem for Tom Izzo’s Spartans. The Spartans are used to these games and are familiar with the large venue that tomorrow’s game will be played at. I know we’ve all seen the movie Hoosiers, where a little school can beat the big boys while paying in a larger venue than they’ve ever played in before, so it could happen, but I don’t think it will happen for the Bulldogs. The Spartans rebound better than anybody else in the nation, they pound the boards with multiple “bigs” and keep their opponents to “one and done” possessions, but equally hit the glass well offensively to give them more scoring chances.
To much size and strength will overcome the more talented Bulldogs team and I see the Izzo’s advancing to to play another game. My key matchup I’ll be focusing on will be Butler’s Gordon Hayward and MSU’s Raymar Morgan. Both kids star on their respective teams and they should have moments of going head to head against one another. I’ll take the Spartans winning 63-56.
#2 West Virginia vs. #1 Duke (-2): Here we’re looking at two of the hottest teams in the country, Duke the winners of the ACC Conference Tournament and WVU, the winners of the Big East Tournament collide in a battle of the “super conferences”. Both teams had impressive wins to get this far, the Blue Devils beat a very talented Baylor team and WVU knocked off the Kentucky Wildcats, so both are no strangers to tough games with high stakes.
The Blue Devils are a much more talented team than the Mountaineers, especially with WVU’s “Truck” Bryant still out with a foot injury. In the end, Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Brian Zoubeck will be to much to deal with and Coach K will once again be playing for a another national championship.
The Mountaineers are very talented, both Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks are great players, but overall I can’t see them competing with Duke for a full 40 minute game. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Brian Zoubeck in the middle for the Blue Devils. If he’s able to stay out of early foul trouble, there’s nobody on the Mountaineers that can really compete with his size inside. Bob Huggins will have his team in their 1-3-1 zone defense to try and compensate for some of their deficiencies, but that could leave them exposed if Zoubeck is holding down the middle, while Scheyer and Singler are hitting their outside shots. The Blue Devils are way to deep and to talented for the Mountaneers and advance to the championship game by beating West Virginia 74-64.