Young Men On The Go
Former University of Oklahoma basketball standout Trae Young told ESPN he will “regret that I didn’t help the Sooners win a national championship.”
The NCAA Tournament resumes on Thursday night and Young, a high-scoring guard, and the Sooners would be nowhere to be found anyway in the Sweet 16. And Young’s sentiment is noble, and also foolish. He expected to win the title as a freshman?
He won’t win that title. Not now, not ever. He’s turning pro, heading for the NBA draft.
Same with Mo Bamba, the University of Texas freshman center. Bamba proclaimed his love of college life, which lasted two semesters, but also declared it’s time to move on.
At least they will get good jobs, despite their lack of college degrees.
The “gee, I hate to leave but …” act is galling on lot of levels, some of which have nothing to do with Young or Bamba.
If the NBA did not prohibit them coming into the league directly from high school, this charade known as “one and done” would be far more limited. But they have to learn basketball at a higher level somewhere after high school, so why not as unpaid help in the minor league known as college basketball? And since they aren’t being paid, what’s their motivation to stay when their talent level dictates they depart?
Young noted that Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger began recruiting him when he was in the ninth grade. So Kruger put in four years of visits, calls, texts and pleas to rent this kid for a season. Hate to see a grown man grovel? Then you’ve never met a desperate basketball coach.
Neither Young nor Bamba created this system. We can point fingers at the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NCAA for helping cobble together a protectionist scheme that makes a complete joke out of the student-athlete concept. Just call them athlete-students. Or athlete-athletes.
It would have been fun to watch Young and Bamba develop as college players and then become professionals. It would also be fun for me to hit the lottery. Young and Bamba now must develop in the NBA. I will have to start buying lottery tickets.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman
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