News out of San Diego, Calif., where basketball star
is going pro and skipping his senior year--of high school.
The details of this decision are rehashedand fairly criticizedin this article over at SportsPower . Basically, Tyler feels that high school basketballand college basketball for that matteris below him and he needs to get started right away. He will go to Europe and start playing against seasoned pros much older and more experienced than him, with plans to come back for the NBA when he's eligible.
Remember the good old days, when leaving college after your junior year caused a gasp? We can thank
for opening the floodgates for skipping college altogether. He went straight to the NBA in 1995.
followed the next year, and their success stories have encouraged copycatters all over the country like
(what, never heard of them?) who turned down free college educations because they wouldn't let their immense talent bring the dream to them. They instead had to hurry to it.
The NBA responded by passing a rule requiring a year out of high school before being eligible for the draft, but that was circumvented by
, who finished high school and went straight to Europe for a season. He's expected to be a lottery pick in June's NBA Draft now that he's eligible.
Now, this: Skipping a year of high school. It's really crazy, and it makes you wonder how low the bar will fall. We already know about eighth-graders being offered scholarships . Sixth graders are ranked by recruiting services. My 5-year old niece, who has never played basketball but appears to be on her way to being tall, might get chased down by
soon. I'll keep you posted.
With so much cash at stake between shoe deals, salaries and other sources of income, kids just can't wait to cash in on their talent. But I don't see one single positive in skipping one of the most memorable years of your life to get pushed around by men 4,000 miles away from home. As the SportsPower article mentions, Tyler has a lot of maturing to domostly mentalbefore he's ready for the NBA. Europe could be an awful experiment for him, seven-figure paydays or not.
It's true what the Notorious B.I.G. said--mo money, mo problems. You just hate to see kids find out the hard way.
Recruits cannot legally accept money to be lured toward a school. So universities looking for an edge take donor money, pour it into facilities and other whistles, and invite recruits to come enjoy their playground for 4-5 years. And you know what? It works.
It's one way of promising incoming players that they will be spoiled, even if it's not in direct compensation outside of a scholarship. More and more, recruits visit campuses and factor in how nice the facilities are as one of the reasons for committing. The beauty of their environment plays more of a role than you might think, especially at the higher levels.
Here's one example on the baseball front. In this article in the LSU student newspaper, Ole Miss coach Mike Biancoexplains that a nice stadium on campus is huge for recruiting. Interestingly enough, having nice stadiums throughout the SEC makes a difference, too. "When a kid is choosing to go play baseball, is he gonna go to Billings, Montana, and play in an old, beat-up minor league park, or is he gonna go to the Southeastern Conference where it is not just Ole Miss or LSU, but there are 12 nice stadiums?" Bianco told the paper.
Strange. Your heated rival could help you land the recruits needed to beat them.
There's also the other side of the coin. I played baseball at a big-city junior college several years ago. My high school field was in much better shape than the juco digs. Our "clubhouse" in college was a little storage closet next to the dugout, and it was broken into about six times in the year I was there (one good shoulder into the door would snap the lock in half). Our "locker room" was the men's room of the community recreation center at the other side of the parking lot (it had two showers!)
You want to think that student-athletes choose a school because of academic opportunities, playing time and player-coach relationships. In a lot of cases, they do.
But this is one way big schools can throw their money around and create an edge. They call it the "arms race" in college athletics, and whether it's backed by good intentions or not, recruits are loving it.
After all, if you can't be compensated as an amateur, you might as well be pampered.
Here's how important national letters of intent are in the recruiting process: you can't just sign one whenever you want.
The NCAA has specific time periods in place for inking such important agreements. They vary by sport, and there are a lot of sports. So it's easy for recruits to commit to a school but really have no idea when they're supposed to sign their letter of intent to make it official.
Here is a breakdown of when national letters of intent are signed for athletes wanting to earn a scholarship for the 2009-10 school year, according to the NCAA website:
Basketball (regular period): April 15-May 20, 2009
Football (mid-year junior college transfers): Dec. 17, 2008-Jan. 15, 2009
Football (regular period): Feb. 4-April 1, 2009
All Other Sports (early period): Nov. 12-19, 2008
All Other Sports (regular period): April 8-Aug. 1, 2009
The coaches of most sports seemed satisfied with the calendar in place, but there are discussions of implementing an early-signing period for high school football recruits. In recent years, football prospects have committed, decommitted, recommitted, decommitted and committed elsewhere, filling all the time they have to make a decision before February.
One Division I coach told me he uses 25 percent of his recruiting budget "babysitting" recruits, or visiting recruits who have already committed to make sure they don't stray.
Nothing is imminent, though, so the dates in place will be a good forecast of years to come.
Through my experience playing in the NFL and being a union
representative for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I saw first-hand what
happens to athletes when their playing days come to an end and they
haven't prepared for their second career. A very small percentage of
athletes make it to the pros. Of those who do, a smaller percentage
play long enough to retire comfortably for the rest of their lives.
In the NFL alone, the average career is only 3.5 years. You don't qualify
to become an unrestricted free agent (where the big contracts are
usually signed) until you have played four years.
There are a lot of sad stories about pro athletes who didn't prepare themselves
enough for life after their sports career is over. Don't let that
happen to you. It is a long shot to play professional sports. However,
going to college, playing the sport you love and getting a great
education will provide you with an incredible experience that will carry
you through the rest of your life.
No matter what sport you play, your coach develops plays that you use to help the team win. Most
teams have a playbook. Being a student-athlete and trying to have a
game plan for college requires its own "playbook." The NCAA has done a
great job trying to take the burden off of athletes and parents by
creating a game plan to follow. The process to get into college can be
overwhelming. However, using the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete is a very smart thing to do.
Have you gone to NCAAStudent.org site? It is a really cool interactive site.
It is essentially a playbook with information about being an NCAA
The site itself was designed to look like a playbook. It is a three-ring binder that "is dedicated to helping you
understand the balance between academics and sports required of every student-athlete for a successful life in school, and out. Here you can learn about the NCAA, download the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, and discover how you can go pro in something other than sports."
When you go to the site, the first words that you read are: There are over
380,000 student-athletes, and just about every one of them will go pro
in something other than sports.
I really enjoy the emphasis that the NCAA has put on "going pro" in something other than sports. The
inside folder pocket has an envelope with pictures that open to the
television commercials they have played.
I certainly was not aware of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete
when I was in high school and there wasn't an interactive website for
me to review. The site and its design effectively simplify the
This playbook discusses:
Core Course, GPA, Tests, Special Conditions
NCAA Eligibility Center
Questions to Ask as You Consider Colleges
Information for Parents and Guardians
Details for High School Counselors and Athletic Administrators
The media gives a lot of emphasis to professional athletes and thus every
kid wants to grow up to be one. I can tell you personally that although
it is a great experience, it sometimes is not all that it is cracked up
So check out the site, read it, download the playbook
and follow it. I am confident that if you follow the plays in this