I admit it.
I hate the fact that kids skip college and go straight to the NBA.
I thought it was a stupid mistake, one that would haunt the lives of many who tried it.
I even thought that the majority of high schooler's are not successful once they step on the court in professional basketball.
All until I read a research study by a Harvard Law School visiting researcher (who was part of the legal team for Maurice Clarett vs. the NBA) Michael McCann published in the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal.
Don't worry, I have no plans to detail painstakingly every detail of the lengthy research study which virtually destroys every myth of high school aged players entering the NBA draft early, but here are some very interesting points.
First off, my inclination was to believe that high school players are less likely to succeed in the NBA due to the fact that they do not receive the same tutelage that a college athlete would receive.
That inclination would be wrong. Looking at age groups, from 18-31, the 18-22 year olds are the most successful. They average more points, more rebounds, and more assists than the average NBA player.
Not to mention the fact that on a higher percentage of 18-21 year olds are drafted than any other age group (of all those who enter their name into the NBA draft).
Most kids who enter their name into the NBA draft have reasoning behind that move. Someone, somewhere, somehow informed them of an interest by NBA teams in their ability.
But let's say that that someone, somewhere, somehow was wrong. If a player enters his name into the draft and is not drafted, that player is then dubbed a failure. An example of media bias is entailed in the report in the form of former Detroit Piston Koreleone Young.
The young man lasted only one year only to fall off the face of the planet. He was a failure. A failure who earned 300,000 thousand dollars for that years worth of work, then moving on to a European League where he then earned 50,000 to 100,000 dollars for around 30 hours a week, for 8 months worth of work.
Compared to other 20 year olds who attend college, that is one incredibly successful (financially) failure.
McCann states succinctly, "He earns considerably more and works substantially less than does the average college graduate. If he's a failure, then most college graduates would be considered failures."
So, if the average high school athlete who enters the NBA draft is more successful than the average NBA player, makes more money (obviously) than the average college player, why should a player who is almost guaranteed a contract (any one of them drafted in the first round) play in college?
I even cringe to type that, but to look at the facts, that is the only possible conclusion.
This does not even take into consideration another important point by McCann that states a player who skips college increases his potential earning by adding 4-5 more years of income. It puts him into free agency more quickly, which equates to more years of larger income.
The only real benefit of college basketball is the experience and the preparation for life after basketball.
But even that college education is not as valuable as the internship programs most professional leagues employ. This is where players are given the opportunity to work with companies over the summer to gain experience, and set themselves up for work outside of their chosen sport.
I would say that experience would be more valuable than a 4 year college education for those who are not geared towards intellectual pursuits.
What is scary to think about is why I believed that it was so wrong for a player to skip college and go directly to the NBA. Young athletes are applauded and revered in sports like golf, hockey, tennis, and figure skating. How is it that kids who start successful (and even unsuccessful) companies and skip the college experience are not looked down upon for not attending higher education?
After much thought, I began to believe that some of it is selfishness on my part. It's true, with every single player who opts for the NBA draft, that is one player out of the pool of potential University of Kentucky basketball players.
Some of it is selfishness on the NCAA's part. Let's face it, the NCAA is a business, and college basketball is huge. With less and less great talent on the courts across the country, are fans going to stop watching? (I don't believe so, but that could indeed become reality).
And, well, like McCann states, some of it may be an underlying societal bias towards black athletes.
He states "There are all these professional children who are substantially younger than an 18-year-old basketball player. It does beg the question of why are people seemingly more troubled by, frankly, 18-year-old African American males who pursue the NBA."
McCann continues, "Are people uncomfortable with often inner-city and impoverished 18-year-old African-American men achieving wealth at such an early part of their lives?"
I certainly hope not, but the undue criticism of high school athletes skipping college leaves one wondering why the attitude exists.