OTish - 5* MBB recruit not going U of Az but going pro overseas - good for all?

Submitted by superstringer on June 30th, 2016 at 12:46 PM

So a big-time recruit selects Arizona, but now says he's not going to collge, he wants to go pro somewhere (this says Australia is likely) before heading into NBA draft.


I think this is GREAT and wish ALL of the one-and-doners do this.  Let college be for guys who want to "play school," and stay 3-4 years.  The NBA's 1-year rule is a joke, and is ONLY meant to save the NBA from themselves (read: bad draft picks like Kwame Brown).  Plenty of other sports have kids to who pro at 18 or younger -- tennis, soccer, hockey, baseball, etc.  Why should basketball be different?  Because the NBA has been burned by its poor scouts and management and the inability to really determine good quality in a high school player, that's why.

Fine.  If kids can't go straight to NBA, let them go earn a paycheck somewhere else legitmiately, instead of being paid under the table by bagmen and AAU guys.

I would love the day that Calipari has no 5-stars to recruit because they are all playing in Turkey or Spain or Italy or China.  That will make college ball a LOT better.



June 30th, 2016 at 12:51 PM ^

I was thinking Brandon Jennings did that, or am I wrong?  If only there was some sort of information system I could check with to find the answer........


UPDATE - yes Brandon Jennings already did this years ago


July 1st, 2016 at 9:26 AM ^

went overseas after his junior year of High School to play in Israel. He was a 5* recruit that flamed out because I'm not sure people realize how tough the pro leagues in Europe are. France, Spain, Italy, and Israel all have very competitive leagues with good players. Putting a 17 year old kid in that environment is tough. 


June 30th, 2016 at 12:50 PM ^

So if all of these one and done guys go overseas, wouldn't the Kentuckys, Dukes, and Arizonas of the world just take the next line of guys? Or are you saying that those schools would just disappear?

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Chalky White

July 1st, 2016 at 9:50 AM ^

I'll never forget the year he recruited 5 of the top 10 overall players in the country and then added I think Poythress who was ranked between 15 and 20. Even if you turn the Harrison twins into a one player package deal, signing 4 of the top 10 players is absurd and worthy of investigation. He has nothing to show for that.


June 30th, 2016 at 4:04 PM ^

I will never understand the level of animosity that Calipari inspires.

I would argue being able to recruit and develop talent is a big part of doing a good job at coaching college basketball. We could name all the talent that Coach K or Izzo have had over the years, doesn't mean that they can't coach.




June 30th, 2016 at 7:25 PM ^

Doing a going job at college coaching is not the same thing as being a good coach.  Additionally, what examples do you have that he has delovoped talent any better than an average coah?  If anything, his recruits have underperformed vs expectations (I know this is not really fair since they were already top talents).

CRISPed in the DIAG

June 30th, 2016 at 1:24 PM ^

The challenge is keeping players eligible for more than one year.  Some schools will be better at it than others for any number of reasons.  Nefarious or otherwise.

It's difficult for me to believe the quality of play will improve in college basketball if you force the elite players into the pros rather than *attending* even one (1) year of school - regardless of whether you buy into the quaint notion of the "student athlete."  That Duke/Butler Final featured a boatload of college graduates but proceeded set MBB back to the 50's for a couple hours.


June 30th, 2016 at 3:22 PM ^

I believe you may be thinking not of the Duke-Butler final, but of the UConn-Butler tilt. THAT was about the worst basketball game ever played, at least since the shot clock came to college hoops.Gordon Heyward had gone on to the NBA by that time, and the remaining Bulldogs were definitely not as skilled.

As for whether potential one-and-dones going the Brandon Jennings route in great number would increase the quality of the basketball being played in the NCAA - it assuredly would not! But it would keep it from being the charade it is now, with 10 freshmen being selected in the first round (including the top 3 and another few in the top 10) along with about as many overseas players.

So if our ultimate goal - as Michigan fans moreso than as college hoops fans - is to see what's best for Michigan happen, then we should ALL  be for as many potential one-and-doners as possible to follow this path, and go get paid right away, don't "play school."


June 30th, 2016 at 12:51 PM ^

According to this article, the main reason he's going to play overseas is that he is unlikely to be cleared academically.  Evidently he attended a prep school in Texas that has been problematic for previous student athletes in terms of NCAA eligibility.


While Ferguson’s decision to turn pro may reignite the conversation about whether more elite prospects will consider skipping college, the reality is it shouldn’t. The high-profile prospects who have passed on college to play professionally overseas have typically done so because of eligibility concerns.

Brandon Jennings was unsure if he could meet the academic requirements to play for Arizona when he opted instead to sign with Italy’s Lottomatica Virtus Roma in 2008. Emmanuel Mudiay faced the possibility of a lengthy NCAA investigation into his eligibility when he chose to head to China instead of playing for SMU in 2014.

Ferguson’s situation is similar to Mudiay’s.

Both Mudiay and Ferguson previously attended Prime Prep Academy, the heavily scrutinized Texas school that created NCAA issues for numerous players before it finally closed last year. Ferguson also graduated this spring from Advance Preparatory International, an offshoot of Prime Prep.

With no guarantee that the NCAA would clear him to play at Arizona next season, Ferguson had two options. Either he could take his chances with the Wildcats, or he could begin his pro career a year ahead of time.


June 30th, 2016 at 3:35 PM ^

If he pans out in the NBA it would provide another example (just like Mudiay would). The more succesful examples, the more others will consider playing abroad, regardless of their academic situation.

The problem remains that there is limited demand for watching teenagers based on their future potential. They don't draw crowds, so they can't collect huge paychecks.  Put another way -- NCAA schools still pay better.

This is why I don't buy all the economic arguments for paying players.  Dave Brandon had a point when he said that people pay to see the school not the player.  NCAA basketball ratings (vs AAU, Europe, etc.) shows us that.

The real problem is that the NBA and NFL insist on restricting qualified adults from earning a living in their leagues. I agree with those that believe the NBA and NFL should get to draft people straight out of high school and the NCAA should let them play in the NCAA if that's what is best for their professional development.

If you really want to support this - start going to AAU tournaments and watching international basketball.


June 30th, 2016 at 8:31 PM ^

Teams shouldn't have to pay players, but the NCAA shouldn't have the right to steal money and opportunity from the players, either.  Players should be allowed to take money from boosters, endorsements, "jobs" and any other way they can get paid off of their likenesses.

If you want to see Michigan have the same personnel level as teams like UK, root for everyone being allowed to pay players. The Fab Five and post-Fab Five years could become commonplace at Michigan again, but without those pesky NCAA violations.  One great benefit: they wouldn't be locked out of Chicago anymore.

Real Tackles Wear 77

June 30th, 2016 at 12:59 PM ^

Probably works out best for all parties to go abroad IF the kid has the maturity and support system to handle it. Moving abroad to start your career at 18 in a country where you don't speak the language isn't right for most kids. I believe Brandon Jennings' mother moved with him when he took his year.


June 30th, 2016 at 1:02 PM ^

I think this is more about how terrible basketball recruiting is set up with all of these derelict prep academies then having 5 stars just go pro overseas more than anything else.

For as much as we rail on JB's recruiting around here, at least we as fans don't have to deal with the heartburn of constantly wondering if such and such recruit will qualify or if he's damaged goods from bagmen, etc...

Sac Fly

June 30th, 2016 at 1:03 PM ^

Other players have gone overseas and burned out quickly. Whether it's a language barrier, culture shock or just being 3000 miles from home at 18 this route isn't for everyone.


June 30th, 2016 at 1:06 PM ^

If you can't get into college academically or it truly is only about the money this is a good option. The number of players drafted in the first round from other countries continues to rise so the NBA considers the skill sets being developed overseas comparible to what they are getting here through the college programs. 

For the immediate future I think the majority of U.S. kids would still prefer to play one year at Kansas, Kentucky etc vs. going so far away from home. Over time, maybe, more kids value the $300K - $1M they may get for one year overseas to getting to hang out on a college campus for free for a year.

Naked Bootlegger

June 30th, 2016 at 1:12 PM ^

I'm a fan of NFL or NHL* rules regarding draftability.   I realize comparing sports is apples to oranges, but I hate the 1 and done mentality pervasive in the modern day NCAA men's basketball landscape.

*I realize NHL can convince a draft pick to still leave the NCAA nest early, but it at least allows a player to marinate in college for a few years without risk of losing their rights.




June 30th, 2016 at 1:10 PM ^

It's fine for some kids.  But playing overseas isn't necessarily good for player development; pro leagues in other countries aren't inclined to spend much time developing a player who is going to leave in a year.  And with few exceptions, the kids coming over aren't going to be physically able to step right in and compete against guys who are physically older and bigger (and more and more of them are former pro players) plus are, well, adults, playing to pay for their family and live.  So yeah, you might make more money and compete at a higher level than you'd in, say, the Big 10, but there is also a good chance you sit on the bench while getting beaten up in practice while your coach fights for his job and you barely get any instruction.

I think forcing kids to go to college for a year is illogical if you don't want to, but at the same time playing in another league doesn't necessarily remedy all of the issues and, in some instances, propably introduces more of them.


June 30th, 2016 at 3:50 PM ^

Same goes for the NCAA really.  You can argue you won't develop much playing against the relatively low level of competition that is present in the NCAA and with the strict limitations on coaching, practice time, infrequent games, academic requirements, etc.

I think you could argue Carmelo Anthony was a guy whose development was stunted by playing at the NCAA. Imagine if he hadn't gotten all that glory at Syracuse and instead had to be a more well-rounded player.  The good-teammate Olympics version of Melo might have been the NBA version of Melo if he hadn't single-handedly carried Syracuse to an NCAA title.


June 30th, 2016 at 1:11 PM ^

Since Cal has been at Kentucky he's recruited pretty bright kids outside of the Wall/Cousins class. Knight, Anthony-Towns, Booker etc. were all pretty good students so they are more adept to take a year in college rather than to go play halfway across the world.

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June 30th, 2016 at 1:17 PM ^

I read an article this week about these special prep academies where the basketball elite go to high school for a year or two or three, before heading to college. The sense of the article was that these kids are really training to be professional basketball players, and there really is little need for the sham of "going to college."

It is a crazy world. The reality is that if you are playing elite level basketball in college, your course schedule is pretty bizarre (in terms of being gone from school). Every now and then there is a post about whether or not you can be on the football team and actually attend one of the professional schools (architecture, art, nursing, education etc.) I think it would be even harder to do this in basketball. If you have a practicum or lab that is only taught from 1 - 5pm M - W - F, how in the world could you be on a sports team? The amount of tutoring and missed class time means that these guys are essentially pro athletes already.


June 30th, 2016 at 1:29 PM ^

I would love the day that Calipari has no 5-stars to recruit because they are all playing in Turkey or Spain or Italy or China.  That will make college ball a LOT better.

...removing elite players from college will make college basketball better?  Uh, what?


June 30th, 2016 at 2:03 PM ^

You have to read through the code. See, once you get rid of those 15-20 kids who leave early every year, the game will be "pure" again, as you'll only have all those "serious students" who're playing for the "love of the game."


June 30th, 2016 at 1:38 PM ^

If the kid has zero interest in being a student or attending college, then kudos to him for not participating in the farcical "student–athlete" pantomime of big-time college sports. It may or may not be best for his basketball development, but it is sure as hell more honest.

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MI Expat NY

June 30th, 2016 at 1:50 PM ^

I don't think it was really a problem of scouting.  If you look at the list of HS draftees you'll see some busts (Kwame Brwon), but everyone else is probably pretty comparable to college players taken at the same draft slots.  I think it was more about the NBA wanting kids to stop making bad decisions coming out of HS.  The kids that didn't get drafted or went in the second round that failed to make a team.  The NBA wanted kids to have one year against better competition to better understand the realities of their position, and/or get the chance to develop into a guy that the NBA could draft highly expecting a contribution.

A lot has changed since the rule went into effect, and I think a new model is in order.  The D-League has developed into more of a minor league and can help those young, borderline professionals looking to develop their game eventually make it to the NBA.  The high school level has also changed significantly with more and more of the top kids playing for basketball teams only loosely associated with a school.  When combined with AAU, there are far greater opportunities for kids to actually see how they stack up against similar talent.  

I'd like to see the NBA/NCAA go to the baseball model.  Everyone is eligible to be drafted after they graduate high school, and again after they turn 20 or so.  A kid who declines the NBA must go to school for 2/3 years.  


June 30th, 2016 at 3:18 PM ^

The bigger pro (from the NBA perspective) is free marketing.  The stars from the NCAA come in with fame and a built-in fanbase. The one year (30 some games) doesn't do that much to mitigate risk of draft busts.


June 30th, 2016 at 3:59 PM ^

If so, I would argue it's as much about character (the ability to function within the rules of the system, go to school, etc.) as talent/skill.  You're still making massive assumptions about skills translating to the NBA (and physical development).

NBA teams weren't that good at gauging players even when nobody left early.  They still get 4 year players wrong all the time (I'd wager Buddy Hield is never an effective NBA starter for example).  The main reason is that the NCAA isn't even one of the 10 best leagues in the world and the NBA is by far the best by a long-shot.  The NCAA might not even be one of the best 30.

But yeah, it'd be interesting to see some data on draft busts in the HS-to-NBA era vs 4-year era vs now (one and done).


June 30th, 2016 at 11:42 PM ^

I think the NBA is trying to enforce a baseball-style model where busts can be weeded out better on the one hand, but also for your generic good prospect, they aren't paying $2 million per year for a mediocre 18-yo to become a very good 21-yo basketball player.

That said, NBA development is light years ahead of NCAA development, partially because of practice time limitations, partially because the competition is so much better, and partially because the coaching is light years ahead.


July 1st, 2016 at 1:29 PM ^

Yeah, NBA skills development is probably better.  I wouldn't say the coaching is light years ahead, not at all.  You do get the benefit of being able to focus 100% on basketball and have no limits on your work with every coach and specialist imaginable.

That said, there are areas where the NCAA is better.  If a player isn't mentally ready or mature enough, he needs the NCAA because the NBA won't help.  NCAA coaches will be on you day and night even if you can't practice under them, and some guys need that before they're ready to be on their own.  And once you're in the NBA, you're on the clock.  Teams have a limited supply of patience, and you'd better have been drafted nice and high if you want the full value of it.


June 30th, 2016 at 3:24 PM ^

—whether it's academic violations or illegal recruiting inducements or under-the-table payments to scholarship players—involve kids who are either poor academic risks coming out of high school or poorly-performing students in college. Forcing them to undergo the charade of being college students distorts the whole process, and it's primarily because there's no meaningful minor league in the U.S. like what MLB and the NHL have had forever.


June 30th, 2016 at 3:45 PM ^

Every team sport you mention has a pretty good minor league system. The individual sports have minor developmental leagues. The NBA doesn't really have a league comparable to baseball or hockey.

East German Judge

June 30th, 2016 at 4:05 PM ^

I completely agree with you that college should be a minimum commitment of 3 years for 2 main reasons:

  • It will hopefully force the kids to be close to getting an education and/or graduating with a degree.  While every 4/5 star think they will have a long NBA career, the reality is that they do not and it would be nice if they had an education to fall back on.  I would even have the NCAA mandate that if a kid plays 3 years and leaves, the university must allow him X years to finish his undergraduate education FREE of charge so they can come back and finish their degree, and
  • Also, college kids will actually develop some real BB skills.  The NBA does not afford the time for kids to improve their - FT shooting, 3 - pointer, etc., during an 82 game schedule and drafts a lot of these kids based on "potential".  This will not only make the college game more watchable (seeing better players), but also develop better pros who are ready to play in the NBA.  Too many kids wash out after their guaranteed contract as they don't have the requitisite skills to stick in the NBA.  NBA is just churning and burning many of these kids.