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Monday, June 23rd, 2008 at 11:49 am  |  109 responses

Brandon Jennings Decides to Look Out for No. 1

As he should.

By Ryan Jones
About a month ago, I spoke to Brandon Jennings for the “Big Punk” that ran in SLAM 120 (on newstands now, if I’m not mistaken). The Oak Hill Academy star and everybody’s All-American (ours included) was the last kid from the class of ’08 to hold the lead feature spot in our monthly high school section, which had nothing to do with us forgetting about him (hardly — he originally appeared in SLAM as a freshman) and everything to do with us saving (arguably) the best and (undeniably) most colorful kid in the class for last. His combination of sick, entertaining game and strictly entertaining personality made him one of our favorite prep players to watch the last four years, and we were happy to have him close out our coverage of the ’08 class in style.

I asked Brandon most of the questions I usually ask top high school players, including a few questions about college: Why he chose Arizona, what he expects next season, the likelihood of going one-and-done. It didn’t occur to me to ask him if he might not end up going to college after all. Now I wish it had.

After I got over my initial disappointment at not having known about this earlier—I don’t know if this was even in Brandon’s mind when we spoke last month, and I can’t blame him for not volunteering it—I felt one thing: Happy. Happy that a kid in Brandon’s situation was actually considering a move that could take care of himself and his family without having to take part in NCAA-sanctioned hypocrisy while also bypassing the NBA’s immoral and self-serving age minimum. He’s not the first to consider it, or at least be connected to the idea: There were (bogus) rumors of LeBron testing the Euro waters after his junior year, and, more realistically given their high school eligibility issues, plenty of talk of OJ Mayo and Bill Walker spending a sort-of postgrad year overseas.

Unsurprisingly, Sonny Vaccaro (who apparently indirectly inspired Brandon to consider this) is the tie that binds all these kids. The NCAA hates Sonny, which is only one of the reasons we’ve always loved him. The biggest, of course, is that Sonny did his best to flip the system (in which talented kids get pimped by the Double-A, the NBA gets free marketing for its future stars, and the kids get nothing until—or more correctly, if—they make the League) in the kids’ favor. Sonny’s not perfect, and he certainly did well for himself while helping a couple generations of ballplayers make their names, but the spirit of his work can’t really be questioned.

Anyway. Neither Brandon nor anyone else apparently knows where he’ll be playing ball next season, and he could certainly end up in Tucson after all. A year (or two) under Lute Olson’s watch would hardly be the worst way an up-and-coming guard could spend his time, and it’s not like there aren’t potential drawbacks of a year in Italy or Spain. Yes, the cultural differences could be tough to deal with. Yes, his AAU-seasoned game might not be ready for the more fundamental European style. And yes, most significantly, he might be exposed as overmatched against the mostly second-tier pros in the top Euro leagues, which could do serious damage to his eventual NBA Draft prospects.

But here’s the issue—the only issue that should matter: If Brandon Jennings chooses to skip college and play professionally in Europe next season, it’ll be his choice. In the current set-up of American basketball—which I might describe as collusion between the NCAA and NBA, if I knew what that word meant—Brandon had his choice of colleges, but he never really had a choice. Despite being talented enough to make money playing this game right now, a kid in his situation has to “choose” to play at least one season for free before he can get paid to play in the world’s top league. There are risks if he jumps the Atlantic, but again, it’ll be his choice—a legitimate choice to make a living, which some might even call a “right.”

Whatever he does, Brandon will be looking out for himself—as he should. I don’t imagine he’ll be looking to make a statement or strike a blow against the racket that is the NBA/NCAA monopoly on Stateside basketball—he’s simply going to be doing what he thinks best for him and his family. But if he does jump, it will make a statement—to the kids who follow him, and to the college hoops overlords, and especially to the League. It’ll be a statement of independence, and a threat to the status quo. If it works, and other top prep players follow suit, it might even force the L to finally changes its rules to be fair, logical, and in the best long-term interests of its own product. Maybe Stern and Co. would finally get around to spending some real time and money on grassroots development with, say, an NBA youth academy, in which those kids with the most potential would be fast-tracked from junior high and taken out of the NCAA pipeline, leaving the kids who make it better prepared for NBA life on and off the court, and leaving the college game to kids who actually need to go to college.

Or maybe not. It’s just a thought.

Either way, I’ll be rooting for Brandon Jennings next season, whether he’s balling for the Arizona Wildcats or Armani Jeans Milano—and I’ll be hoping that even the threat of that second option will send a little chill up the spines of suits in New York and Indianapolis.

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  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    I really hopes he tests Europe.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Ryan likes high school boys.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I was on the phone with one at 2:30 this morning, actually. What a job I have.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Good read, Ryan.

  • blackjack

    The NBA should learn from European soccer clubs. They all have established youth teams and B teams for young prospects to develop. This could be a great move for the Stern robot.

  • VinDeez

    You can’t blame the kid at all I mean he gets to travel to a beautiful country depending on where he ends up like Spain, Italy, Greece, etc. and will definitely add a new element to his game playing against veteran former NBA guys, established Euro stars, and young prospects all while making probably close to a million bucks. More power to him and I hope to catch him in the NBA sooner rather than later.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    blackjack:That’s the last thing they should do–really.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Selfishly, I want Jennings in ‘Zona balling out in the PAC-10. But in reality, I hope he does what is best for him and his family.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    I patiently awaited this post all morning. Well done, as usual, Professor.

    I struggle with taking sides on this issue.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    I guess only allstar basketball players are allowed to call after 9pm. hmmmm. haha Great stuff, Ryan. I always end up having this discussion about why more kids don’t go overseas. I know it would be a crazy culture shock and tough to be so far away, but what a good way to stick it to the NCAA/NBA madness. Brandon Jennings will be one to watch, wherever he is playing.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    apparently akin to those shared by TAD.

    With Air Bud coming back, that team would be exciting to say the least.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    If he doesn’t end up in ‘Zona.DKV Joventud would be an awesomw choice.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Budinger isn’t staying in the draft?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    No, returning to AZ, TAD.

    Also, glad to see Anderson and Dozier from Memphis returning. They’ll like Tyreke.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    UNC will be hard to beat with everyone returning.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Walker will definitely be getting a much longer look in the first round now.

  • B. Long

    I was really looking forward to watching this guy ball in the Pac 10 next year but he definitely has a right to make the best decision for himself. David Stern screwed the pooch with this age limit b.s. big time.

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    I’m selfish so I want BJ to go to AZ so I can see him ball out of control. But it is his decision so I can’t change his mind. I just hope if he goes to Europe, they will have plenty of youtube videos that I can engulf myself in. I have a gut feeling that he is going to AZ though.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Well done, Ryan and Brandon (even just for thinking aloud about this very logical option).

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Would a Euro team really pick him up for only one year? I would think he would have to commit for at least two years, which brings a whole nother set of problems. Plus, the money he will be making over there isn’t exactly going to set his family up for life. I think it’s cool that he’s considering bypassing the work farm known as the NCAA, but I wonder if going to Europe is the best route. I guess it’s the best available route.

  • http://www.realgm.com/src_feature_article/165/20080409/a_76_percent_success_rate_not_enough/ Brandon Hoffman

    Ryan – Great read. I think the NCAA is the most hypocritical organization in the world. It’s only a matter of time before the Euro game starts attracting more and more American born talent. I did an article for RealGM a few months ago. If you have a moment, click my name and it will take you to the piece. From 1975 to 2005, 41 high school players were drafted into the NBA. Of the 41 players drafted out of high school, only 10 of those failed to make the NBA: Taj McDavid, Korleone Young, Ellis Richardson, Leon Smith, Ousmane Cisse, Tony Key, DeAngelo Collins, Lenny Cooke, Ndudi Ebbi, and James Lang.

  • starbury&stevey

    i hoop he comes in greece..nice weather,beatyfull womens and some of the best teams in europe.the 2nd best league in europe(after spanish league).(does it remind you like a commercial spot on CNN?)

  • starbury&stevey

    i hope..

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    His hair will be unspectacular in Spain..

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    So, Air Bud went back to Arizona specifically so he could play with Jennings, and now Jennings is leaning on playing in Europe? What an ass…

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    I remember back in the day, Stern getting applauded for the age limit thing. What changed?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Jukai:Read above,and if you’re still for the age limit,well..you can’t be helped.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    He didn’t f*cking get applauded for it around here, Jukai.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Jukai:I take it you’re a disgruntled Arizona fan.And Budinger withdrew from the draft because his workouts were poor and he wasn’t guaranteed to go in the top 25.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Oh MAN… my entire long post… I musta added a curse word =/

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    In essense, yes, I am for the age-limit. No, I am not for kids being money-less for an extra year, chancing on ruining their careers before they ever get paid.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    One of the few solutions I was throwing out was pretty neat, I’ll see what you guys think. Same rules apply, you CANNOT go straight into High School after college. BUT… you can go into the NBA draft. This puts an interesting aspect to the whole “go into the draft or not.” If you go straight in out of High School, you’re not going to go nearly as high because you’re still an unknown, and the team wont get you for at least another year. Yet, you get a guarenteed contract. If you choose to go to college first and THEN go into the draft, you’re more of a surefire thing, and will get picked higher… but no guarenteed contract. Neat?

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    I mean, I don’t really give a damn, they can go to Europe for a year if they want. It’s all the same to me.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Does “neat” mean “lame” where you’re from, Jukai?
    Seriously: “If you go straight in out of High School, you’re not going to go nearly as high because you’re still an unknown.” You don’t even pretend to really mean this, right?

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    The age limit is lame. Stern tried to protect owners from being stupid and drafting high schoolers who can’t ball. I hope all the top players go play somewhere else for money. That completely eliminates any advantage Stern would have from all the extra hype players get from playing in college. Plus, if enough talent congregates in another league it becomes competition for the NBA.

  • John E. Sanford

    I hope Brandon goes overseas, and I hope more dudes follow the precedent he’ll set. The age limit is bullsh*t, and for the NCAA & the NBA powers that be to act like they are looking out for the players’ long term well-being is bullsh*t as well.

  • http://myspace.com/mrdyalekt d.Y.

    Love the use of the word “choice.” We have a problem with an illusion of choice in this country (i.e. Burger King or McD’s). I think this is a strong step in getting poor folk out of the “my block is my world” mentality.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Here’s how it works:
    The NBA starts a youth academy. This is a physical place, like a prep-school sized campus with dorms, classrooms, everything.
    The location does not matter.
    They use their own network of scouts to identify the top 25 prospects in each class from, say, 8th through 11th grade. 125 kids total.
    They put together a curriculum of basic high school-caliber academics, and combine it with specific classes geared toward their potential NBA future: Finances, groupie sex-ed, media relations, etc. And instead of PhysEd, obviously, they play, practice and train for basketball.
    It’s a year-round school.
    The faculty consists of regular high school teachers to deal with the readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rythmatic, special instructors for the more “practical” classes, and then a world-class training and coaching staff for hoops.
    At the end of each year, the kids who still show NBA potential move on to the next grade to continue at NBAHS, all the way up to graduation. The kids who can’t keep up are given a pat on the butt and sent back to their hometown, where they’ll most likely be the best player on their high school team and have their pick of a college scholarship when they graduate.
    The most promising kids out in the regular high school world will be brought into replace them.
    The kids who do last in this system will have been kept away from crappy AAU coaching and slimy agent types. They will be fully indoctrinated into the NBA way of thinking, and they will be as ready as for NBA life on and off the court as is humanly possible.
    They will be eligible to go immediately into the Draft pool. However — because they haven’t actually been “paid” to play, just gotten a grant as if they’d gone to IMG (the obvious model for all this) or a prep school — they’ll be able to retain their college eligibility as well.
    The League’s many media relationships will make promotion of these prospects a cinch. The best of them will absolutely be household names by the time they graduate from NBAHS.
    Hence, the NCAA is officially irrelevant to the League.
    Yes, the League pays for all of this.
    Long term, it will more than pay for itself 1000 times over.
    Because it’s too logical, it’ll probably never happen.

  • http://myspace.com/mrdyalekt d.Y.

    Excellent.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Sorry for my sh*tty math — that could either be 8th-12th grade, or 100 kids total. Either way. You get the point.

  • dfrance

    I’m torn on this issue. I’m kinda sick of people talking about these guys going to college and they don’t get anything. Newsflash, they get to pick any one of America great Universities and go there totally for free! How is that not getting anything??? There are people out there who want to go to school and who would go for four years and become productive citizens, but they can’t because of the outrageous cost of school.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Okay Ryan, explain to me why Kobe, the best player in the NBA, went 13th in the draft. Now explain to me why your explanation to that is different from anything I just said. Jesus Christ..

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    dfrance, everything about this system is set up for the best kids NOT to get an education. There’s vastly more incentive for them to leave after a year or two, and to focus all their spare time on basketball. And from the coaches to the administrators to the teachers, everyone at the schools knows those kids aren’t there to get a degree. They’re there to try and get to the League, and to make money for the University. Period. For the average kid playing at Duquesne or Idaho or something, of course it’s a great chance to get a free education. But those aren’t the kids we’re talking about here. At all.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    NO YOU GUYS ARE RIGHT, Basketball will be MORE EXCITING with duds like Kwame Brown coming into the league.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    While in school,they must play to a professional standard while not being paid a cent,be subject to public scrutiny,keep up grades after long road trips,be forced to subsist on microwave popcorn and instant noodles.The big stars don’t account for everyone.Make no mistake,the life of a NCAA scholarship athlete isn’t all that easy.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    The PEOPLE WHO DESERVE TO GO HIGHER will GO HIGHER thanks to actually seeing how good people are in college. In High School, you can dominate in all sorts of ways without really having any skillset what-so-ever. Our previously mentioned Kwame for example. Not to mention, OJ Mayo woulda easily been drafted #1 unrightfully. Seeing how they play in college means the more deserving player gets his more deserving high draft spot, and a more deserving pay. I don’t really give a damn about the kids, I’m looking at this as a fan. This makes things fair. If they are that desperate to earn a buck, they can go to Europe. Whatever.

  • dfrance

    Seriously, how many guys lives, not bball careers, but lives were ruined by the lure of the NBA. More than the Kobe’s and KG’s out there.
    @Ryan, I feel what you’re trying to do, but I hate the idea of an NBA-Academy. To me it will become just as unregulated as the NCAA and kids will just be going there coasting like the do in college. Then what about the kids that get sent packing because they can’t cut it??? I think that would end up being a disaster, especially for the kid who gets sent from NBA Academy, back to *insert rough and tumble hood here*

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Because somehow 12 NBA GM’s psychic powers weren’t working 12 years ago, when — even though they should’ve KNOWN he’d be arguably the best player in the League in the mid-late ’00s — they somehow weren’t sure of his “best in the world” status when he was a skinny 18-year-old with lots of attitude but not much of a jump shot.
    Also, because his agent told (er, uh, “threatened”) people that he only wanted to play for the Lakers, which probably scared some of those teams off.
    I don’t know how old you are, but I hope you’re young enough to excuse this as youthful stupidity. Because if it’s grown-up stupidity, I’m worried.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Jukai:Is Kwame not earning millions?Is he the worst player in the league?Is it his fault if NBA scouts are idiots?I don’t think he would have done this well if he got found out in college.ALSO:The kids only have to complete one semesters worth of classes,which is what the one and done’s do.I’m sure that’s really beneficial to their education.

  • dfrance

    @Izzo, I agree that it is not easy, there is a lot of pressure on these kids from these big universities. But you have to agree that the NCAA scholarship athlete life is a heck of a lot easier than working fulltime to try and pay for community college

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Sorry, the only thing I remember about Kobe before the NBA was how people kept saying he would be the next Jordan before he stepped onto the court. You know, that really should be enough incentive to go number one in the draft. Yet, as you so aptly put, they didn’t think this skinny 18-year-old would actually make it. Of course, if he had a year of college, and DOMINATED COLLEGE BASKETBALL, he probably woulda been a top five draft pick and woulda earned a far greater amount of money. I’m not sure how you’re missing this concept. I’d love to explain it in some way you can understand, but I don’t have any hand puppets.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    So just because poor people exist,insanely rich people have the right to exploit the talents of other poor* people for nothing other than the promise of a pseudo education that-if the were allowed to play one year of pro ball they could easily pay for themselves.
    *Poor in this example mean average people

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Izzo: you read my post wrong. Everything you just said in your response is my point. Had he gone to college, people woulda found out about him, and he woulda never gone so high. LIKEWISE, had Kobe gone to college, they woulda seen he can ball on a higher level, and woulda gone much higher. Is this a hard concept? OJ Mayo woulda gone first in the draft and Beasley arguably third or fourth had this new age limit rule not been in effect. Chrissakes… also, Izzo, I know the kids aren’t getting any education. I’m not trying to prove that point at all.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    dfrance, the example of the European soccer teams’ academies has already been brought up in these comments. I don’t think it’s an ideal example (and I don’t see the League EVER letting individual teams do this… I don’t think) but the idea is valid on some levels, at least one of which applies to your point. If a kid in, say, Manchester United’s youth academy tries to “coast,” he gets sent home. Period. Same thing would happen at my fantasy NBAHS. The idea of putting all these top-flight kids together is that they’re challenging each other, and that the stakes are high — if they’re not good enough or serious enough to hang, they go home. It’s pretty easy, really. And because the League would be running it themselves, its in the League’s bottom-line best interest to keep agents and runners and hangers-on out of the mix. Again, these kids aren’t making any money; they’re busting their asses to put themselves in the best position to make money. The leeches and hangers-on can’t help them and can in fact only hurt them, and so they’re out of the picture.
    As for the ones who don’t cut it, they’re just back to where they would’ve been if NBAHS didn’t exist — where they are right now, in other words — the only difference being that they’ve been given concrete proof that they’re NOT one of the 20 or 25 best kids in their class. There is NO system that will keep some kids from falling through the cracks, but this gives the best kids the best chance of succeeding, and lets the rest know where they stand.
    Jukai, I’m not even gonna respond anymore. You’re offering like a 4th-graders version of the official NBA stance.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Jukai:So you’re for the age limit because sometimes people are bad at doing their jobs?

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Sorry my explanations aren’t getting to your pea sized brain, Jones. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself anyway.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Sorry, gotta do it: OJ almost definitely would NOT have been No. 1 in the draft last year. He wasn’t anywhere close to being the consensus No. 1 kid in his own high school class…
    And yet, there’s a pretty good chance he goes No. 3 this year. So how overrated was he exactly if he’s going No. 3 now? F*ck…

  • http://myspace.com/mrdyalekt d.Y.

    Had Kobe gone to college, he still would be a Laker. Why is that hard for you to grasp? What difference does it make? He’s earned a grip of money to date.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Ryan, that’s a difference in millions. Little things.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    @d.Y: Yes he has. All players will. So what the hell is the anger issue over this age limit thing?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I love how this post took off at like 4 pm, though.

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Also, Izzo, I’m trying to respond to you by writing a really long post, but I guess I keep adding a ‘naughty’ word cause it’s not going through. Needless to say, yes, I am for the age limit because sometimes people are bad at their jobs.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    If I may quote Russ: *sigh*

  • dfrance

    Ryan, good one at Jukai, but my thought is this. Say you’re one of the best in the country in HS, you’re thinking to yourself, if I keep this up, I go to the league. Now say you’re one of the best in the country and you get selected to NBAHS and get your @ss kicked and get sent home. What is that going to do to the mindstate of a 14-17 year old?

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Don’t you have High School kids to hang out with, Jones?

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Better question dfrance, what happens if you get injured. Jones’ version is just streching the NCAA version out even longer. But kids get to play basketball one year earlier so its all cool.

  • dfrance

    Ryan,
    The title of the posts didn’t draw me in, so i read everything else before this one…

  • http://fjkdlzf.com Jukai

    Whatever, work has been done for 25 minutes. I’m out. Let’s continue to cry about how kids need to wait another year to get their five million dollars and pray that we can be put in the same situation where Kwame Brown can be selected first to set the Wizards Franchise back years. Horray.

  • dfrance

    I leave injury out of it. You can get injured at anytime. People act like the likelyhood of a basketball player getting injured is higher during the one year they have to go to college to meet the age requirement. Rose or Beasely could tear an acl today…

  • http://myspace.com/mrdyalekt d.Y.

    Um, Jukai… first, all players wont. The kids who get hurt in school (Bill, cough, Walker) end up with little or nothing. Second and more importantly, I’m tired of the NCAA and all those who profit from them pimping kids for huge revenues, while providing them with nothing but a fake education. This euroleague thing gives youths a chance to have freedom in deciding what their career path. This is similar to when Wilt played for the Globetrotters because he couldn’t go to the NBA. This is about getting rid of the monopolization, and giving players autonomy and control.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    dfrance: I feel you, but I don’t think your argument flies. Are you saying failure in a competitive environment is unhealthy for the tender developing minds of a teenagers? Then we need to stop keeping score at every high school game in the country. I trust that’s not what you’re actually saying.
    If, on a more specific level, you’re arguing that it’s gonna be brutal for these kids to have their dreams crushed so specifically… well, yeah. But that’s life, right? It happens on the AAU circuit all the time. But this is a sport we’re talking about — it’s competition. It’s reality. One way or another, the kids who aren’t good enough WILL get exposed. At least in my fake world, they’re exposed DEFINITELY — they know they’re not as good as the kids ranked ahead of them, and they can either try and get good enough to catch up, or they can accept their reality and move on. But it’ll be a lot harder for them to delude themselves into thinking they are good enough. The current system makes that self-delusion much easier to accept.

  • http://www.ballerblogger.com Brandon Hoffman

    Ryan – Your “youth academy” idea is an interesting solution. But the players “chosen” by the NBA would have an unfair advantage over other players who are competing for a chance to earn millions. I think your solution would open a Pandora’s box of problems. I think a legitimate “farm system” will emerge. One that is funded by venture capitalist and angel investors. Those investors would be completely separate from the NBA but would “invest” in a players training — academics and athletics. With the promise of repayment — with interest — once that player enters the league. The investment would carry risk (what investment doesn’t?). But the payoff would be considerable if the investor chose the most talented prospects. The system would benefit the players as well. Both the player and the player’s family would be taken care of until they enter the league.

  • dfrance

    I was talking in the more specific sense of being selected specifically for an NBAHS, then being told you don’t cut it and being sent home. But like you said, that is the reality of life. I feel like there has to be a better solution that merges AAU, NCAA and the NBA to get these kids focused on becoming better players and people at the same time. But that is just too ideal. Maybe a NBA Summer school program, just like what you detail Ryan, but more like an intensive summer camp than a ’round the year thing.

  • http://nothinpersonal8.blogspot.com/ nothin personal

    what the f is going on?

  • http://nothinpersonal8.blogspot.com/ nothin personal

    I thought that 0ak Hill and St Patr1ck’s and all the other p0werhouses were doing just that. What’s the difference? in all reality, something similar happens in Fr@nce and in Gree(e with athletic H!gh Schools, but they have one in every major city. It could work, but I can’t see the NB@ be willing to get it’s hands d!rty.

  • http://nothinpersonal8.blogspot.com/ nothin personal

    As for Brandon, I think he should go to Spain. France is too weak of a league, and people are just playing off athl#tisism, Greece is too physical, and Italy… well, i guess I just h@te Ital!ans!

  • http://nothinpersonal8.blogspot.com/ nothin personal

    Imagine him playing next to Rubi0 for J#ventud! If he did come to Greece though, he could fit well in a mid level, talent breeding team like Panioni0s or Mar0ussi, scoring in bunches and getting his feet wet. i can’t see a guy like that playing for a competitor though, he wouldn’t get enough minutes,and they would not like an inexperienced guy starting for them.

  • B. Long

    It really pisses me off when I think of how much money David Stern is making off Lebron, Kobe, T-mac, etc. But somehow there accomplishments in the league don’t justify giving other kids the same opportunity? Get the fu(k outta here. I’ve kept an open mind before believing any accusations from a convicted felon but this rule needs to be thrown out last year. This has to somehow be unconstitutional, right?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Yeah, the Wizards should have passed on Kwame Brown and taken a proven commodity with four years of college experience. A guy like Michael Olowokandi. They ALWAYS work out. Also, the Cavaliers really regret wasting their 2003 No. 1 pick on a high school kid. The age limit is stupid and only benefits the owners and the NCAA.

  • B. Long

    I think this is somehow Deshawn Stevenson’s fault….Like Stern thinks its ok to hold out the next Kobes and Lebrons as long as another Deshawn doesn’t squeak into the league from High School somehow.

  • Chukaz

    @ B.Long: IDK who this would apply, but I’m pretty sure that this is somehow T-Mac’s fault. If Brandon goes overseas and f*cks up his status as the top pick next year, it’ll be T-Mac’s fault too. The Sternbot shouldn’t worry about the Deshawn Stevenson’s of the world, he should be worried about keeping the Shawn Bradley’s of the world out of the league.

  • http://www.youtube.com/prcasey03 pistolpete227

    Brandon Hoffman: 10 out of 41 is just under 25%. Ask those gentleman what they’re doing these days? That’s a lot of wasted scholarships to earn a quality college education when you look at it from that angle. Apparently, 10 is not a lot in your book. But after visiting your blog, it’s about 9 higher than your daily readership. Perhaps, you should have also chosen to go to college.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/Dacre Dacre

    The NBADL is what this whole issue should be about…DEVELOP players that arguably raise interest out of highschool. It would be a far cry better than having guys like Randy Livingston TEAR up 22 year old draft picks – he shouldnt even be in the NBADL…
    REMEMBER:
    LOU ROE and God Shammgod!!
    LOU ROE and God Shammgod!!
    LOU ROE and God Shammgod!!

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/Dacre Dacre

    DAVID STERN!!!!
    Get Shammgod out of China

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Let’s not forget that of those 10 “failures” Brandon listed, Ndudi Ebi was a first-round draft pick (and thusly got guaranteed millions), Leon Smith was insane (and also got a decent guaranteed deal), and Taj McDavid was told by everyone INCLUDING his high-school coach to absolutely NOT enter the draft. So the number of outright failures is actually smaller.

  • matt(ballislife

    ryan I think your mind is in the right spot, but the idea about the nba high school just gives the nba more money still and the kids no money still. I think these kids should be allowed to make money just like a pop star or singer does. Why is it that britney spears can make millions before she’s 18, and so cal kelly clarkson, but brandon jennings or Oj mayo cannot? Thats my debate, maybe its because those big institutions that we have to pay money to go to, want more and more money to make with these high caliber kids going to their school. They say they get a scholarship? for what, 1 semester, which costs them what? 5-15,000 at the most, and in turn they get a sold out gym and jerseys to sell for life? Pay the kids and teach them life lessons but keep things the same.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I’d also love to know how many D1 NCAA basketball players on scholarship who don’t make the NBA leave school without a degree of any sort. Remember when Bob Huggins was at Cincinnati and his graduation rate was ZERO? I do. If the NCAA (and the NBA) truly cared about the kids, it would do something to help the ones who are already under their alleged care.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Lets face it, the NCAA wants to get the LeBrons and the Dwights for a year (minimum), and the NBA wants the salary clock to start a year later. Win-win! And if a sure-shot kid blows out his knee in an unnecessary college year and never gets to play in the NBA, well, that’s his problem. David Stern sucks and the NCAA is infinitely worse.

  • Froggiestyle

    Ryan – GREAT read, thanks a truckload. And not only should the NBA adopt a “youth academy” but all pro sports should. I know you have to be funny too, but you’re nuttin but spot on talking about FINANCES and the rest. Telling prospects asap that they will need certain life skills no matter what they do is soooo important that it’s not even funny. Again we’re talking money managing, not economic theory. Because whether or not they get injured, cut, etc. ONE day they will no longer have it all like they once did and will need to grab themselves by their bootstraps and fend for themselves. The round ball can only get you so far in life. PS. please do your best to ignore the retards…

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    well…. just, you know, um, FU(K! pretty much sums up that whole conversation. Jones, why not send that idea to the L? You were the man/still are of SLAM, and your a farmer. How can they ignore it?

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Very nice read. Agree with Russ’ 2:57 comment. Also Brandon should go overseas; it’s good for his family, his game (fundamentals, toughness, experience), and his personality overall. Getting to know other cultures makes you a more complete person, if more Americans (no matter in what field they work, study, etc) did it, America would be more tolerant towards other cultures, less hostile, and probably wouldn’t try to police the world to the same extent. Which would be good for not only you, me, but the whole world. People here talking about “The culture shock” Brandon would face, obviously haven’t done a lot of traveling themselves. If Brandon is just a little smart and independent (as his thoughts suggest he is) it will be an awesome experience for him. And he would return to the NBA with a game and mind more ready. I encourage everybody (B-Ball players or not) to travel the world and deal with the “culture shocks”, believe me when I tell you that you won’t regret it for a second. Globalization is not only surfing the Internet.

  • Peter

    i still don’t understand why getting an education is such a big deal when straight out of high school is how the pro sports system works in pretty much every other country in the world…high school, highschool/pro, pro…and if you’re not good enough you get a job. most of the basketball players i grew up with weren’t going to college anyway whether they were able to play professionally or not…

  • http://www.ballerblogger.com Brandon Hoffman

    @pistolpete227 – Lol! Thirty-one out of forty-one is a much higher success rate than players with one, two, three, or four years of college. Thanks for visiting my blog though.

  • http://www.ballerblogger.com Brandon Hoffman

    @ Russ Bengtson – McDavid, Richardson, Key, Collins, and Cooke weren’t drafted. Taj wasn’t even recruited by a Division I school. Young, Cisse, and Lang were second round draft picks. That means only two high school players, Leon Smith and Ndudi Ebbi, failed to make the NBA after being selected in the first round.

  • http://www.ballerblogger.com Brandon Hoffman

    And let’s not forget what Mike Dunleavy, son of long-time NBA Head Coach Mike Dunleavy Sr., a player who played three years at the University of Duke, the best college basketball program in the nation said:
    “It sounds silly to say the college game isn’t good for guys, but there may be some truth to it,” Dunleavy said. “If you’re good enough to play 10 to 15 minutes a night and practice every day, you’ll get dramatically better being in the NBA compared to staying in school.”

  • http://phoenixsunsrising.blogspot.com/ Hersey

    Great post. Good discussion. The age limit is wrong and is one court case away from being tossed. The one year rule actually hurts scouting because NBA scouts are forbidden to scout guys in high school. So now they get 30-40 games and some workouts to make a multimillion dollar investment. If the Jennings kid does come to Europe, more power to him. Earn some serious cash, expand his game and get drafted next year. The argument about him getting schooled in Europe is kinda silly. A few of the Euro prospects in the current draft didn’t even start for their club teams. The potential and talent are what teams want and I doubt he’ll disappear. While I would love to see him in the Pac10 next year too- he could become a better player in Europe and ultimately be a better pro.

  • B. Long

    @Russ:The rule also allows Stern to get a free year of marketing young players who are sure fire draft picks by Dicky V and the other talking bobbleheads at ESPN before their rookie seasons which boosts ticket and jersey sales before these players ever set foot on an NBA court.

  • B. Long

    And I don’t see the NCAA yanking O.J. Mayo USC jerseys off the shelves. I’m getting the alternate black one 8)

  • http://www.myspace.com/brinaro22 Brina22

    The adjustment for Brandon would be the toughest off the court if he chooses to head overseas. It’s hard enough for a 22 year old to adjust to life in a foreign country. Americans also face very high expectations from fans and from the team’s front office while playing overseas…so that would also be something to have concern for. I also wonder if any of the top teams would be willing to waste (potentially) one of their limited roster spots for foreigners on an unproven kid out of HS. But it would definitely be interesting to see his development.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Ryan’s idea was very good. Just wanted to say that. I think they might want to consider providing the players with some sort of stipend because most of them are so poor that they will still be vulnerable to leeches who offer them cash for their families or their own desires. The only way to truly eliminate leeches is to either provide and incentive or punishment that makes players uninterested in being involved with them.

  • Dre

    I agree with the NBA starting a NBA academy type deal. However I think it is stupid and hypocritical to criticize the NBA for starting an age limit, and rumors are that it might go up another year. The NBA is a business… why should they be any different than any other business in taking means to pick the best possible product to enhance their company? They have picked a lot of high school frauds who had no reason being chosen… college will expose a lot of that. Now there is no exact since in picking a player but in the eyes of the NBA it significantly reduces their risk.

    I played ball all my life, on the streets, in school and in college. I never came close to making the League but I maintained good enough grades and got help on my test taking to make it to college to play ball.

    On the other hand I don’t like the rule because of the same reason a lot of other people don’t like it, but I would be stupid and emotion driven if I didn’t know that this benefits the NBA.

    Of course it benefits the NCAA they get the players to come to their schools, show case talent and make them some money. It is know different than any other fortune 500 company that toughens their requirements to hold a position in their company. The people jocking for the position may cry about but they shut up and make the changes that they need to get the position. The NBA knows that a lot of the time (not all of the time) ballers who don’t study, don’t want to do their work in school don’t have the maturity to handle millions of dollars.

    This is business people and the NBA just like any other company are not in the business of throwing money away if they can help it.

  • http://Slamonline.com BlackAuerbach

    NBA Academy Huh?What would they call it,the Developmental League?i see they drafted mike taylor from the dleague last night why cant real talent go to the D instead of whoever the hell’s playing now.we might actually watch.But that’ll never happen.the Ncaa sends out their ugly thumbreakers to rough peoples wallets up and all that.Brandons gonna cake off anyway.euros are worth more than dollars,so take a two year contract son.

  • Nappysupreme

    I agree with Dre. The age limit may be hypocritical from a players perspective, but aren’t basketball fans benefiting from it? I for one am much more compelled to watch college games now than ever before. I also think that the draft has become more talented the last 2 years. Despite this, many fans continue to bash the NBA age limit. I mean, if the SternBot’s main function is to provide a better product on the court, why is anyone complaing when thats what he’s providing?

  • Dre

    No Black Auerback… and Academy type deal would be even more extensive. It would be like baseball where their picks from the top to the bottom go to their farm teams and they develop and get used to the pro game. They have a much more finished product on the field because of this.

  • Jahrulz

    it is unfortunate that mr. jennings didn’t take studying in high schol seriously, as now instead of him going to Arizona, he will be going to europe to play ball and get paid, granted, this could be something all youth do to get paper, get the fam out of the hood, etc. but at the same time, if you won’t put the effort, why be rewarded? the odds of making it pro are tougher than ever, and it would be great to go to school and have something to fall back on, the commish is trying his best to not see any shattered dreams happen, and he’s doing that, but the “playaz” have to do the same thing, so mr. jennings, get paid, but don’t get hurt, cause if so, the nba will be that much tougher to get into after that contract is up, get all the advise you need, hell, go to juco if youi gotta…but still good luck and to be fair there is noone to blame but himself.

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  • Guzzy

    In all I would really like to see Brandon make the jump and go ball over seas it would prove that yes high school kids are ready and that the NBA needs to REthink this whole age limit rule.

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