Yet they kept their word. They kept their word to their coaches. They kept their word to their teammates. They kept their word to all of Gator Nation that was tuned in just a while back. And much of the basketball world is scratching its collective head in a mixture of disbelief and wonder.
Unselfishness Isn't a Style of Play, It's a Lifestyle
Selfish players do not lead their teams in assists. Selfish players don't spend the post-game media time talking about their teammates. Selfish players don't stay in school when the money is guaranteed.
And selfish people do not become unselfish players. These kids are indeed something special. They couldn't wait to get back into individual workouts in order to become better players. While many kids around the country were listening to agents, shoe reps and every other leech in the business, these guys trusted their coaches and their families.
Sure, it helped that none of them is from an impoverished background like Donnell Harvey. But neither was Jason Williams. Sure, it helped that there was no pressure from family and friends. But Mike Miller didn't have that pressure either. These three guys simply love school, love being college basketball players, and perhaps most of all love each other. Not only do they want to keep playing together; they also couldn't bear the thought of leaving Taurean Green behind.
Must Proceed with Caution
With the NBA deadline having passed; all three of these guys still have to take care of business. Step one is setting up the insurance policies needed to guarantee their financial futures. Step two is realizing what it'll be like, not only being superstars on the UF campus, but the bulls-eye every college player and team will be aiming at. Step three is recognizing their individual shortcomings and working to improve them.
Beyond that, these guys must now set the tone for four freshmen joining this Florida team with expectations regarding playing time that are probably unrealistic. They have to teach those guys how to put team above self. They have to provide the example of work ethic to the rest of the team as the Gators look to do something that hasn't been done since 1992, repeat as National Champs.
We write all the time about what's wrong with college athletics. We read about exploitation of student-athletes who barely get an education. We talk about schools that look the other way while their players drink and drive, steal and cheat, lie and sneak all the while beating their girlfriends.
Well for once it's not about what's wrong with college sports. Joakim, Al and Corey… and, yes Taurean too are what's right about college sports. Well done guys. It's almost time to get back to work.
You comments and questions are always welcome @ Vettel@gatorcountry.com.