by E. Spencer Kyte, Bugs and Cranks
For the second session in a row, an article from Sports Illustrated has caught my attention and raised my ire.
Paul Forrester, a writer I'm not overly familiar with, penned a piece about former NBA Slam Dunk Champion Gerald Green, who at age 22 sits at home waiting for the phone to ring, having been released by the Houston Rockets following a trade from Minnesota at the deadline.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat - being a former Slam Dunk champion does not, I repeat, DOES NOT mean you can be a productive NBA player. Kenny "Sky" Walker was a slam dunk champion. Ditto for Fred Jones. Harold Minor won it twice.
Now, the other thing that struck me as curious about the piece is that Green is far from the first former high schooler to jump to the pros and wash out before his college career would have come to a close. Sadly, it happens with some frequency.
Leon Smith could have used some time in college.
Korleone Young definitely could have used some college, especially considering his own high school coach was "stunned" to find out he declared for the draft.
Even some current NBA Prep-to-Pros graduates could have certainly benefited from a little time on campus.
Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O'Neal are All-Stars now, but they both spent their freshman and sophmore years riding the bench getting minimal burn in the Association.
D'you think Sebastian Telfair wouldn't have gain at least a little something from a year or two playing for Rick Pitino at Louisville?
Kwame Brown. Robert Swift. Ndudi Ebi. Need I continue?
Seriously, why more and more of these kids didn't go to college mystifies me.
Look at a guy like Carmelo Anthony. Melo had the game, body and maturity to come into the league and be a productive player fresh out of Oak Hill Academy, but instead, he went to Syracuse. All he did there was win a National Championship and Tournament MOP Award, further develop his already developed game under one of the greats in Jim Boeheim and come into the NBA a certified star.
Gerald Green was an athletic kid who could jump and dunk. That was it. In high school hoops, when you're that much better than every one else and can jump and dunk, of course you look like a superstar. Ndudi Ebi looked like a superstar too!
What he didn't have - and still doesn't, which is why his phone hasn't and may not ring - is a reliable jumpshot, an understanding of how to play defense or even the basic knowledge of how to use his ridiculous athletic ability to the fullest.
You telling me a year or two at Oklahoma State, shooting jumper and jumper and coming off screen after screen in practice wouldn't have helped this kid?
The NBA Age Limit is beyond a good idea and anyone who believes otherwise needs to give their head a shake.
If these kids - and that is all they are - are as good as they think they are or those around them convince them they are, the NBA will still be there a year or two later. This time last year, your average basketball fan had no idea who Michael Beasley was. Now, he's the Consensus #1 Pick in the Draft.
There is nothing lost by going to college and improving your life. Not just your jump shot, but your life. Some will argue that a kid might go to college and get hurt, then what? Do what the rest of us unathletically blessed folks did - go to class, get an education and get a damn job. It's not as bad as it sounds. Hell, someone is paying me right now to sit here and write this... aren't they?
And truthfully, if you pick the right school and get surrounded by the right players, going to college will help you get paid even more. Ask Sheldon Williams.
by E. Spencer Kyte, Bugs and Cranks