Brandon Jennings Takes Game To Europe
As we continue to enjoy “As the swamp-billy turns”, to the joy of some and pain of others I just want to hip you up on something that kind of flew under the radar in the past couple of weeks. It involves the game of basketball on all levels, from high school to the pro game.
A McDonalds All-American who I had the pleasure of watching here in the game in Milwaukee by the name of Brandon Jennings out of LA who went to Oak Hill Prep Academy in Virginia and in a lot of circles is considered the best prep player in the country committed to the Arizona Wildcats. With the loss of guard Jarryd Bayless to the NBA after one year, Jennings was counted on to lead the Cats back to the top of the college basketball world, well guess what happened?
Brandon Jennings decided to skip out on that commitment to take his game and that one year out of high school requirement and 19 year old rule the NBA installed a few years ago and signed with a team overseas. Huh? What did you say… HE DID WHAT!
Yes that is right, Brandon Jennings took his very unique basketball gift and will make millions overseas at least for one season. This is the ultimate test of how the system of structure is set-up for basketball in this country. Just this week a top ten draft pick in Josh Childress of the Atlanta Hawks bolted for Europe and a 20 million dollar deal for 3 years, are you kidding me?
In response to this Arizona head coach Lute Olson who has been victim of this 1 and done mentality more than his share has sworn off kids who are not committed to being division 1 student-athletes… great Lute, we will see how long that lasts.
This is the best thing that could happen for basketball, and I know you think I’m nuts for saying that but it is true, here is why. Everybody thinks that it is the best thing for some of these gifted athletes to go learn their trade and mature in a college environment.
In most cases that is very true… everybody is not an NBA lottery pick, but for the handful that are you should give them that access to opportunity that exists if some professional sports team owner wants to risk their money on that type of potential/talent.
This is America where we take chances; gamble is the word that best describes how we do things in this country, some calculated and some not, but we make the choice within the context of the rules, when a rule is a bad rule we change it (or circumvent it). I believe that the choosing of who you think can be an asset to your business should be made by that business, not by people concerned about the potential of bad choices. Last time I checked the Kevin Garnetts, LeBron James and Kobe Bryants of the world are what that potential can turn into. The Kwame Brown and Eddie Currys are out there to, but like anything else in life, you better do your homework and get it right.
The college game has enjoyed the fruits of the athleticism of these elite athletes for years and given in fair trade a college scholarship. Ok, that is all good but as we evolve as a society that changes with the times we need to get away from this silly, unrealistic romantic thought that we are still in the socio-economic lifestyles of the 1950s.
I speak only of the best of the best when I talk of making this system more balanced to reward those that create the most within it. For those others that both parties benefit from this system, keep it rolling and fine tune-it to better it for all parties. The student-athlete and the universities, as well as other business interests can and should all benefit if we quit lying about what it really is. I believe education can and does make us as individuals and as a society better, but there are many ways to learn things and profit from that knowledge. Didn’t Bill Gates drop out of school early to start that Microsoft whatever. Make sure they are student athletes after all and compensate those that generate dividends to your university so they can enjoy the life like every other college student who has a job.
Unlike most young men who play out this farce of being a student-athlete when they are athletic mercenaries, Brandon Jennings did the best thing for him and his future, and by doing so may have also done something constructive for the hypocrisy that we turn our heads to here in this country in big time sports. Jennings is taking a gamble, I really hope he wins big!
Steve Haywood, Host of “That Being Said”
ESPN Radio 540 Milwaukee