TURNING PRO FROM HIGH SCHOOL

While many talked about LeBron turning pro other Ohio athletes had to make the same choice after finishing high school. We take a look and compare LeBron and another buckeye athlete who made the same choice.

A different look at young athletes turning professional. While the past year saw many in Ohio talking about LeBron James taking the money over the chance to get a college education we forget about the many athletes that turn pro in different sports.

With the finish of the MLB Draft many players from the Buckeye state will have to make choices about college or turning pro in a short amount of time. While the chance to make large sums of money always looks good not many will see the riches the LeBron was able to receive. This brings us to the point of asking, What should a young player do? While many will disagree with what I feel lets breakdown two Ohio athletes and see if the choices were right or wrong.

LeBron James was considered the top basketball recruit and pro prospect in the country. With a fight over who would sign him to a shoe contract before being drafted, we heard about the figures reaching $1,000,000.00 or more. Everyone who saw or was around LeBron during the past season knew he was turning pro. The time was right and college could only hurt the amount he would be able to earn. Plus add the risk of injury and in the end the money was too much for anyone to say he should head to college and play for a scholarship. While LeBron is set in terms of money just from the Nike deal other players have to look closer to see is it worth it.

Every year MLB drafts high school players to fill its minor league rosters. In doing so many young players become professional and lose the chance to play college baseball. While many of these players have little chance in making the show, the chance of playing and making it tugs at the heart strings. While many professional teams take into consideration what a high school player may do, many will still take the chance and hope they put the right amount of money on the table for the kid to change his mind. That brings us to our second young athlete.

Jason Stephens played high school ball at Tallmadge. Jason had done so well that Georgia Tech offered a scholarship to the 6'4 190-lb right handed pitcher. Having gone 26-2 over his three year high school career many scouts felt Jason would be a good draft choice and worth a pick in the first three rounds of the draft. The only hold up would be if Jason would use the scholarship from Georgia Tech as a means to get more money from them. Many teams passed on Jason due to what they felt would be a wasted pick. If a team can't sign a pick from the first three rounds they have wasted a pick and can hurt the franchise for years to come. While some teams worried about having a chance to sign a player, teams that have deep pockets can take risk and drafted a player like Jason. The New York Yankees who have money to burn, saw a chance to select a top player and in the 6th round drafted Jason and went to work in signing him. In a published report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jason was offered and accepted a $500,000 signing bonus along with 8 semesters of college scholarship money. The scholarship money must be used within two years of Jason retiring from professional baseball.

While we tell many young athletes to stay in school we feel when a player is able to get the type of money a LeBron and Jason were able to receive along with the deal for college money the player must do what's right for his family and in most cases take the money.

Jason Stephens compiled a 26-2 record with a 1.57 ERA in 183 innings pitched. He struck out 240 and walked only 79 batters during his three years at Tallmadge High School.

If you feel that Jason should have headed towards Georgia Tech in the Fall head to the OhioPrepScene Baseball Message Board and tell us what you think.


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