Turning Pro...For Now

For many, the opportunity of turning pro is too much to turn down. Such is the case this summer.

While it doesn't have the reputation of, say Connecticut or UCLA, West Virginia University has made a big mark on the NBA.

Everyone knows about Jerry West, the school's most famous alum who led the Los Angeles Lakers as a star player, coach and executive and also serves as inspiration for the league's logo. Most NBA fans are familiar with the names of Hot Rod Hundley and Rod Thorn, if not for their playing days then certainly for their continued service to the league in other capacities (Hundley as the Hall of Fame play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz, Thorn as the GM responsible for drafting Michael Jordan with the Bulls, and currently as president of the New Jersey Nets).

Lately, the name of Mountaineer forward Joe Alexander has been on the tongues of folks around the NBA, and will continue to be in the weeks leading up to the June 26 draft in which he will likely be a top 15 pick.

Just a little bit more under the radar than the names of West, Hundley, Thorn and Alexander, though, is another WVU connection about to take the Association by storm: yours truly.

This summer, instead of haplessly chasing around lost golf ball after lost golf ball at course near you, I'll be completing an internship with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

I mean if George Costanza, a balding, slightly-overweight 40-something can land a full-time job with the New York Yankees, then why can't I, a bald-by-choice, slightly-overweight 20-something find a summer gig with the Griz, who finished the 2007-08 campaign with the fourth-worst record in the league and currently own the fifth overall pick in the draft?

Some of you who know me might recall that this will not be my first go-round with the league. As a high school senior in 2003, I threw my name in the draft pool, if for no other reason than to create a memory.

Inexplicably, I was passed over for the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Maybe if I had signed on with a big-time agent (like, say, the incomparable Mike Brown) I could have at least been a "waterboy", or gotten a tryout with an overseas pro team in Djibouti?

In any event, after five years I'm finally over the devestation of not hearing my name called on draft night. It's time for another try at the league, only this time I'll stick to what I know best (communicating) instead of trying to sell myself as a 6'0" combo guard lacking the necessary skills to compete even at the highest level of intramurals.

In all seriousness, it's been my dream for as long as I can remember to work in the NBA, and covering the highest levels of college sports for the past five years has done nothing to change that ultimate goal. It's something I want to do, and an opportunity that is too good to pass up, even if it means I won't be able to master the links at Paradise Lakes (which sits just a step below Augusta National and St. Andrew's in my book).

So until August, you good folks will have to do without me. Somehow, some way I think you can survive the summer months without my dry, witless columns and constant roundball rhetoric on the BGN Podcast.

Hopefully, somewhere down the line, I'll be able to point to this opportunity as the beginning of fulfilling my lifelong goal.

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