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A sign of things to come?

June 25, 2008

I had heard about the story of Brandon Jennings, the 18-year-old Southern California high school basketball standout considering playing in Europe instead of going to college, on PTI yesterday and hardly thought it to be a ground-breaking story. Apparently others in the sports world feel differently.

ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd called Jennings’ story groundbreaking and trumpeted it as a sign that college basketball was going down the tubes because no one wanted to play college basketball.  Apparently, Cowherd hadn’t bothered to read an article that ran in the Los Angeles Times today that fully explains the other half of the story.

Having originally signed with Arizona, Jennings scored poorly on his SATs and may not

even be eligible to attend the school or any school next year. In other words, he may

have no other choice but to go to Europe if his academics make him ineligible to play college basketball.

Though Jennings would be the first high school freshman to head to Europe instead of

going to college, I hardly think, as Cowherd clearly does, that this will become a preferred option for high school seniors. Sure, the prospect of playing in Europe and getting paid for a year before becoming eligible for the NBA sounds good but once you do that you actually have to GO TO EUROPE. These are kids that have lived most of their lives in one place and never been out of the country and I can’t imagine that we’ll see an influx of high school kids passing up the chance to live in great college towns like Bloomington, Chapel Hill, and Lawrence, Kansas to live in Turkey, Greece or Russia for a year.

From an exposure standpoint for the athlete, the move doesn’t make any sense. Yes, the NBA scouts the European leagues but what better exposure could you want than having the ability to have every NBA general manager and coach see you every week for a month and a half during March Madness. Think about how much you watched the NCAA tournament this year? Now think about the last time you saddled up to the television to watch the A1 Ethniki championships in Greece or Lega Basket Serie A in Italy.

Which product would you rather be a part of if you’re a high school senior?

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