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Leaving School Early Not For The Faint Of Heart

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The NBA draft is coming. Now that the MADNESS is over, every top prospect in college is now thinking of making the jump to the pros. - Scot Pollard (@scotpollard31)

Upperclassmen, underclassmen, postmen, garbagemen, lettermen, and even a few gentlemen are testing their draft-ability. For the top 40 or so, there is a realistic chance they MAY find a spot on a roster next year. That is if they get drafted, then signed, then make the team, then don’t get hurt or out of shape - and not necessarily in that order.

For the other few hundred that think they have a chance, they will work out and wait for a call that will never come.

Let’s start with the upperclassmen. These days, the upperclassmen entering the NBA draft seem to be at a disadvantage. Why, you ask? Well, if you can get drafted after only one year of college, and you waste your time going to school for four whole years, what is wrong with you and your game? Are you getting my sarcasm? I hope so, because as I wrote in another article, I believe the draft age should be 21. But back to my point. If you’re a senior and not in the top five in the nation in a few categories, with the current climate of NBA teams gambling on teenagers - FORGET IT.

You haven’t got a chance. You bloomed too late, are too short, too heavy, too slow, or just can’t score enough to have been drafted younger.

Note from every NBA team:

“Sorry upperclassmen, but you are too old for me to give you a guaranteed contract and have you come in and not only be more mature but more polished as a player. We are gonna take a gamble on this teenager that has amazing athletic ability/size/shot/scoring ability (take your pick) and hope that he’s not a complete waste of a draft pick. We feel it’s in the best interest of our organization business-wise to hope that this unproven child will become the next LeBron James as opposed to taking a proven college player with a degree and the maturity of a man.”

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Now the young guys. There’s a bunch that only go to college now because they can’t be drafted straight out of high school any longer. There’s a bunch more that go to school thinking they will play a year or two, score 25 points in one game on national TV, and think they are ready for the league.

There’s a bunch that can’t handle college. They attend the fall semester and get just good enough grades to be eligible for the spring semester. Then spring rolls around, and they forget what school is since they aren’t planning on being around for the next fall anyway. Then, if they don’t have the season they expect to have, where does that leave them but with no choice but to try to go pro?

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Think I’m being harsh? Name EVERY high school player drafted that played ten years in the NBA. Yep, there’s only a handful. Now think about the hundreds of players in the last decade that left school early and haven’t been drafted or did and washed out due to one of the above mentioned personality flaws before they were able to make enough money to retire on. (because let’s face it, we ain’t geniuses with something else to fall back on. We know how to one thing: Play ball!)

Let’s talk about this year. As usual, I have to focus on the Jayhawks, since I really only watch them. (Sidenote: The following scenario takes place at most colleges, not just the big names. Almost every college basketball player thinks they have a shot at the NBA. Therefore I can safely use this scenario and you can insert your school and players).

This year, KU has 5 players that potentially could have left early for the draft. Two have already decided to leave. The Morris twins. I think they made the right choice. Their stock can’t get much higher even with another stellar year next year. Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson decided to stay.

I think they also made the right choice.

Tyshawn has yet to show consistency in his game that will be necessary for him to have a chance at the next level. If he has a consistent senior campaign, he has a chance at making a roster. Thomas is still developing his offensive game, and in my opinion is too small to play inside at the next level. He will need to be a better perimeter shooter as well as ball handler and perimeter defender to have a realistic chance. Another year or two in school will help him achieve that lofty goal.

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Lastly, at the time of this writing, Josh Selby is working out, checking his stock, and still hasn’t decided whether to return to Lawrence or not. I believe that if Josh leaves, it would be a mistake. He missed the first part of the season with a suspension. He missed a few games in the middle with an injury. After that, he didn’t return to pre-injury form, and therefore didn’t show he could make it through a 36-game season. The NBA season is 82 games, not including the preseason or playoffs. It’s hard for me to understand why Josh is even considering leaving.

Every young man has to decide what’s best for him though. Who am I to say who will make it and who won’t? I have a pretty educated guess, but not a crystal ball. Any of the aforementioned players could prove me wrong. I do know, however, what happens to the players with NBA dreams that don’t take care of business in the classroom, off the court, or with the ladies. They wind up out of the league or never in it, broke, and/or with child support issues. Some owe taxes, others are swindled by dishonest agents or financial advisers.

What I’m saying that like being recruited to college, each player has an idea of how good they are based on the level of interest. If I could pass on any words of advice to young men making the decision on whether to stay or go it would be this: College is great. You don’t pay taxes, you have to go to class but really all you have to do is play basketball. No kids, no spouses or other “adult” responsibilities.

If it’s even a question of whether to stay or go, STAY! Enjoy college! It’s a blast, and you can’t get those years back. The NBA isn’t going anywhere, especially this year with a lockout looming. Take your time in life, and make the right choice. Get a college education so you have something to fall back on, as well as those precious college years.

If EVERYONE is saying you’re a top pick then beat it, scram! Go get paid, and begin working harder than you ever have at the one thing you are talented at and can excel in!

Either way, live the dream!

Scot Pollard writes a weekly column for Lost Lettermen. He can be found on Twitter at @scotpollard31 and on his website at Planet Pollard.

 
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