Apr 9, 2012, 9:15 AM EDT
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo answered bluntly when William C. Rhoden of the New York Times asked him if race played a factor the perception of highly talented, predominantly black college basketball teams. By extension, that would include national champion Kentucky.
“I want to answer that as honestly as I can,” Izzo said. “I think it would be different. I hate to say that. It’s sad for me to say, but it’s probably the truth.”
After winning a national title at Kentucky, John Calipari has five players, including national Player of the Year Anthony Davis, on track to enter the NBA draft, shed their amateur status, and begin to make money off of their talents as a professional.
For all the criticism that Calipari has faced in his tenure as a college coach, it is undeniable, especially at Kentucky, that he has helped players launch lucrative basketball careers, a path which gives them an opportunity to better themselves and create financial stability for themselves and their families.
One of the attributes that makes Calipari so successful at the college level, aside from the sincere caring he has for his players and their futures (which any coach worth his salt should have, anyway) is the recognition of one fact:
Not every career is made in a classroom.
For high-major players, many of whom come from humble beginnings in working class households, college is an apprenticeship program, a stop along the way to a professional career (and a highly beneficial one, at that).
Why can’t the college experience be viewed that way?
Cramming a star athlete into a science laboratory and forcing him to play with pipettes and flasks for four years can do just as much good as forcing a future technological entrepreneur, someone with the potential of Steve Jobs or Bills Gates, to study geology without end.
There is no negative connotation here, no implication that athletes somehow possess less intelligence than any other college student, as the NCAA’s ‘dumb jocks’ campaign so counterproductively planted into the minds of fans.
The argument is about harnessing the type of intelligence that a certain student has and helping that person utilize it to make a living. While others may succeed with a calculator or paintbrush, Anthony Davis is one of the most kinesthetically intelligent students in the country.
And believe me, he is on track to make a lot more money off of that intelligence than most. With good financial planning, he could be set for life.
If there were colleges and universities that prided themselves on churning out star artists and business professionals after one or two years, leading them into high-paying jobs and giving them opportunities to succeed, would we have the same outrage as we see with these Kentucky underclassmen possibly entering the NBA draft?
For the players at the very top like these players in Calipari’s program, they have an economic opportunity that has not been afforded to many others in the general population.
It makes for great debate to take the intellectual “high road” and say that players should stay four years, graduate with a degree, and have a fall-back plan.
But the reality of the situation is this, and any business professional (regarded so highly it seems, in comparison to athletes) will tell you: When the difference between staying in school and going pro is a decision between zero-income amateur status and multi-million dollar professional and sponsorship contracts, there comes a point where it is imprudent not to go pro.
For players at this level, money management skills, courses in public image and marketability, and—get this—more time honing one’s skills in the gym, could make for a more well-rounded and potentially successful professional athlete than one who focuses only on “traditional” college courses.
As Rhoden of the Times writes so eloquently in metaphor about the jump to the NBA for players from low-income backgrounds:
“But when you are being pursued by the poverty hounds and see a fence, you jump it and take your chances with whatever is on the other side.”
[Post updated 9 April 2012, 3:03p.m.]
May 24, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
Earlier this week an advertisement for Calhoun’s BBQ done by former Tennessee basketball player Steven Pearl hit the airwaves, and it included a reference to current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. But that reference has led to the compliance department at Ohio State getting involved, looking to make sure it’s clear that there was…
May 24, 2013, 10:20 AM EDT
In the aftermath of Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer from Vanderbilt it was reported that Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was blocking Pittsburgh as a possible destination. Some assumed that tampering was the reason for the move, but according to a report by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that may not be the case. Regardless of…
May 24, 2013, 8:52 AM EDT
With the graduation of leading scorers Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, there was a chance that 6-6 forward Myke Henry would see more opportunities to produce for Illinois in 2013-14. However it seems as if the Chicago native won’t be around to realize such possibilities, as it was reported by the Champaign News-Gazette that Henry…
May 23, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
Head coach Alan Major led the Charlotte basketball program to its first 20-win season since 2008 this past year, as the 49ers won 21 games and received a bid to the Postseason NIT. Next up for Major’s program is Conference USA, and the former Ohio State assistant will make the move with a new contract…
May 23, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT
While the head coaching carousel is the focus every offseason the many changes within a coaching staff can also have an impact. At Colorado, head coach Tad Boyle is fortunate to have led the same staff for each of his three seasons in Boulder, resulting in the most successful stretch in the history of the…
May 23, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
The eight-team field for the 2013 Cancun Challenge is finally set, with 2013 NCAA tournament participants Saint Louis and Wisconsin headlining the field. The event will feature two four-team fields, with the Billikens and Badgers being joined by Old Dominion and West Virginia in the Riviera Division. The Mayan Division bracket consists of Bowling Green,…
May 23, 2013, 6:20 PM EDT
With four departures (Butler, Charlotte, Temple and Xavier) and one arrival (George Mason), the Atlantic 10 Conference will have 13 members for the 2013-14 academic year with Davidson joining in 2014. Those changes have brought about another for the conference: beginning next season, all members will play in the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays…
May 23, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
While much of this past season was spent lamenting the changing of the Big East, another result of conference realignment was the improvement of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball product. Sure Duke and North Carolina managed to carry their share of the load in the years following the move from nine to 12 schools, but…
May 23, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official on Thursday afternoon: he’ll be coaching Team USA basketball through at least the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That’s been known for almost a week now. The interesting bit of news that came out of his press conference on Thursday afternoon had nothing to do with…
May 23, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
I’m not sure there is a coach in the country that is better at developing players in his program than Bill Self at Kansas. Over the years, the best players that have come through Lawrence during his tenure have been moderately recruited — i.e. somewhere around the top 40 or top 50 of most lists…
May 23, 2013, 1:05 PM EDT
Cody Larson’s basketball career never got off the ground in Florida. After redshirting as a freshman, Larson was involved in a bizarre incident along with a team manager and Erik Murphy where he tried to break into a car after sneaking into a bar after closing time to inquire about a lost wallet. After being…
May 23, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT
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May 23, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT
Vanderbilt has made a change to their coaching staff, as Kevin Stallings went out and plucked Yanni Hufnagel off of Tommy Amaker’s staff at Harvard. “I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Stallings and the rest of his outstanding staff here at Vanderbilt,” said Hufnagel. “Coach Stallings is not only recognized as one of…
May 23, 2013, 10:33 AM EDT
Michigan has no plans to part ways with Adidas at any point in the near future, according to a report from MLive.com. There had been some speculation in the last month that the Wolverines would end their contract with the apparel company because of the way that Adidas had handled a worker’s rights issue at…
May 22, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT
As a recruiting class that has been hailed by some as the best in the history of college basketball, Kentucky’s incoming freshmen will receive a lot of attention throughout the 2013-14 campaign. And with the skills that players such as Julius Randle, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson and James Young possess a number of…
May 22, 2013, 8:29 PM EDT
A third player with eligibility remaining will not return to the BYU program next season, as it was reported that 6-8 forward Agustin Ambrosino will not be a member of the basketball program in 2013-14. Ambrosino, who played an average of 6.2 minutes in 31 games last season, joins Raul Delgado (transferring to Metro State)…
May 22, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
One week ago UMKC announced the addition of a fourth player to the program, as 6-10 forward/center Isaac Kreuer will return to the Kansas City metropolitan area after spending last year at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas. According to the Kansas City Star, first-year head coach Kareem Richardson has filled out his coaching…
May 22, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
With the loss of four institutions the Colonial Athletic Association has some work to do on the realignment front. Apparently the league has found a new member, as it was reported by the Wilmington Star-News that Elon will officially join the CAA on Thursday. Elon has announced a press conference for 2:00 p.m. EST Thursday…
May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
On Tuesday, the University of Washington announced plans for an alumni basketball game to be held on June 23. Returning for the game will be former Husky stars such as Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Jon Brockman among many. Festivities will begin at 1:00 p.m., with there also being three-point and slam dunk competitions for…
May 22, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT
Will Yeguete just cannot get healthy. The Florida forward missed the final nine games of his sophomore season with a broken foot and then had to sit out much of February after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee as a junior. He returned to play the final six games of the season. Yeguete underwent more…
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