Brandon Jennings, Starring In “Eurotrip”

Prized Arizona PG recruit Brandon Jennings isn’t going to wait for the NCAA Clearinghouse to give the thumbs-up to his recent SAT scores so he can be a one-and-done in Tucson — he’s decided to follow through on his initial thought and will be heading to Europe to burn his one season between graduating and entering the NBA Draft for 2009.

All I can say is: more power to him, and I hope this is the way talented ballers will go in the future.

I love college basketball, but I hate the pretense now required by the NBA that forces top prospects into a year at a big-name university before making millions. Yes, it’s nice to be able to recognize the lottery picks since they spent a year in the NCAA ranks, but is that really better for the game, the universities, and for the players? It’s definitely better for the game, as the NCAA is only game in town when it comes to exposure to pro scouts for American prospects. But it’s not better for the academic integrity of the universities (let us note that university presidents have no problems with this; this is about TV money to them) and it isn’t better for the players who want no part of pretending to be a student any longer.

When we go through the pretense of William Rhoden’s “Conveyor Belt”, which is the confluence of AAU leagues, big time college programs, and professional standards that the New York Times columnist expounded upon in 40 Million Dollar Slaves, we are feeding a system that does a disservice to the players.

These are 18-year old students, many of them being shipped around in various public schools due to the desire to grow their basketball talent; some are well-educated, others aren’t.  The reasons we buy into the “need” for collegiate athletes in basketball and football — and for those athletes to go to college — are thus:

  • It’s the primary method of getting to the NBA or NFL, essentially respective minor leagues
  • Many of the straight-to-NBA folks didn’t pan out
  • There’s a lot of “everyone should go to college”, particularly towards young, black men from lower class neighborhoods involved

Neither of the latter two reasons should matter one iota in your mind. 18 year old kids should be able to ply a trade in the major leagues of any sport; if you can fight and die in a war, it seems silly that you can’t be drafted by an NBA team if you’re talented enough.

Eventually, Jennings’ decision became possible not only because the NBA insists on using the NCAA as its plantation and nursery for young talent (to the detriment of universities, who get to deal with the risk of having a one-and-done damage its APR rating and put scholarships at risk) but also due to its refusal to make the D-League into a promising enough option for players looking to make a decent wage and work their way up into the NBA.

If there’s any way I’d like this to end for Jennings, I want him to be a lottery pick in 2009, and prove that the path to the NBA through the Euroleague is a valid one. It will save us all — observers, collegians, players, students, and fans — from having to accept a completely false pretense as the standard for a sport, one that does a disservice to the player while lining the pockets of the schools, the conferences, and the NCAA.

UA signee Jennings picks Europe [Arizona Republic]


10 Responses

  1. Brandon Jennings going to Europe is not going to take anything away from the NBA, It might actually improve the skill of these players better so when drafted and invested in by teams they are getting more back initially and it is not so long term. I don’t really see this as a bad thing at all. Besides, these kids hardly ever graduate from college.

  2. Ain’t nuttin but a G THANG

  3. Why dont you mention the kid isnt smart enough to qualify to enter a college. Thats the bigger travesty in all this. The AAU teams and such are a joke not to mention when these kids go to HS its just to play basketball and the teachers let these kids slide. They should enforce the academics in all this. But its easier for you to criticize the NBA and NCAA for trying to make cash. Do you have a problem with that? Its not like these kids wont make millions. Would not surprise me if these kids dont end up blowing all the money they make. One last point, all the griping over the NBA’s entrance rule, bitch all you want about how an 18 y/o should be able to go from HS to the pros. But it was collectively bargained. So if you are gonna blame people dont leave out the NBAPA. This argument is getting as tired as Favre.

  4. Fine. I’ll blame the NBAPA too. But it’s Stern’s baby because he proposed it and pushed it through with the NBAPA’s protection racket wanting to keep slots for veteran members.

    Jennings’ intelligence doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the basic thrust of the argument. Yes, his SAT scores didn’t clear the clearinghouse. But that doesn’t change the basic concept that he shouldn’t have to go through the bullshit of being a faux-student for a year.

    I have no problem with the NBA trying to make cash. I have a problem with the NCAA fretting about academic integrity and buying into this one-and-done rule because it ups their coffers for March Madness.

  5. His intellignce does play into if you like it or not. If there was a rule stating he had to go 2 years or more the same thing would happen. To cry that the NCAA is exploiting these kids is so ludicris and you know it. Everyone uses everyone. These “college” kids are getting paid, no matter what you think. You come off sounding sanctimonious. If you dont like the system use your position in the media to lobby for changes. Also remember the scholarships are year to year. So the player gets a free year of education and the school gets into the tourny. Didnt you ever think that for one minute this help the school pay for other parts of the athletic program? No you are being dishonest on what really happens

  6. Ah yes, “use your position in the media to lobby for changes.” Right. My non-existent blip matters to the NCAA.

    And yes, they are exploiting these kids. They may be paying them under the table — but if the payments are discovered — it’s the player that takes a lot of the heat. Of course revenue generating sports pay for other parts of the athletic program. I don’t remember suggesting otherwise. I know that’s how it works.

    Question: so it’s better for both sides to exploit each other for two years in a bullshit exercise with an academic facade?

  7. You bitch about the system and it is not going to change. But you and the “media” can put pressure and maybe initiate a change. It may or may not work. But isnt trying better than sitting in a corner and bitching how the system isnt working?

    Honestly I cant complain about either one using the other. They both are getting what they want. Is it right most likely not. But tell me do you find a huge difference between college football and basketball? Both sports exploit the athletes and the athletes use the colleges to get mega paydays?

  8. Well, the NCAA can’t really complain about the one and dones. People only really started to complain about them when guys like Brandon Jennings decided to leave and play in Europe. The ones and done players (Durant, Oden, Mayo, Beasley, Rose,Love) have impacted the NCCA so much in these two years more than any 4 year college player has ever done in NCCA history. Remember the one and dones would had never played college basketball and would have gone straight into the NBA. So for the fact that college basketball gets these kids for one year is something they should appreciate and not complain about. This is why I think the rule should be changed to 2 years of college basketball or straight out of high school. This will at least end the one and dones so college basketball can make money. And high school kids that are basketball ready like a (Durant, Oden) don’t have to waste their time playing one year of college basketball and risk getting injured. But the talk of colleges paying student athletes money to pay is absolutely ridiculous. Because then you’ll have to pay all the college athletes and most NCCA sports don’t make as money as football and basketball. Who watches NCCA track or swimming? If you pay the basketball players and the football players then wouldn’t you have to pay all the athletes then? No matter how much you argue about this subject. There is still something very wrong when a 19 year old makes millions of dollars. Because average people can work their whole lives. Generations can pass their kids work and their kids work and they will never make millions of dollars. This kids are 19 years old they just graduated from high school. Some 19 years old might have never even worked a day in their lives. What kind of message does this send to the teenage youth out there? Brandon Jennings not going to college will in the end only hurt him. Because a normal NBA basketball players career only last until he’s 40 years old. And when Brandon’s 40 years old and retired. I wonder if he was smart enough to save his money? Or will his agent try to steal his money like what happened to (Kareem and Pippen). And all these old guys like Rodman, Kemp, Pippen that spent their money and now need a comeback. Sorry for the long post. Does anybody actually know what a passing score to the SAT is? And does anybody know how much D-leaguers actually get paid? It can’t be millions right?

  9. Anyways, I’ll be rooting for Brandon for some reason. And he picked a great team Pallacanestro Virtus Roma. One wheres he’s going to be the starting point guard immediately and the former starting point guard on the team Roko Ukic just signed with the Raptors today. Looking at the guys on his team Allan Ray, Christian Drejer, I don’t think the rest of the league is going to be that tough. So I except Brandon to probably dominate in Europe. And be a top 5 pick next year.

  10. Travis-
    The age of any of these players is insignificant. If you have a talent which hundreds of millions of people enjoy watching, then you deserve to get paid in the millions for it.

    Why does Brandon need to sacrifice his career in order to be a “better example” for all our youth? Frankly, I’m not sure I want my children looking up to someone who makes that dumb a sacrifice.

    I wouldn’t confuse (academic) intelligence with money mangement ability. While the two are probably loosely correlated, know that Sir Isaac Newton – one of the top 5 most brilliant men ever – lost all of his money in the South Sea bubble.

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