Skip to content

CJ McCollum is not an example of why staying in school is wrong

Jan 8, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

CJ McCollum AP

Over the weekend, CJ McCollum broke the fifth-metatarsal in his right foot as Lehigh visited VCU, an injury serious enough that it essentially ended any chance of McCollum suiting up for a regular season college basketball game ever again.

On Monday, David Steele of the Sporting News filed a column that essentially said McCollum’s injury is yet another example of why players should leave for the seven figure contracts of the NBA when their stock is the highest. If you remember, after sparking the Mountainhawks to an upset of Duke in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, McCollum declared for the draft but eventually ended up pulling his name out and, obviously, returning to school for his senior year.

In principle, I agree with Steele. The career of a professional athlete is limited. Eventually, knees break down and backs give out as old age kicks in, with each offseason bringing in a new crop of physically blessed 20 year olds that want nothing more than to win your job.

I firmly believe that it makes sense to capitalize on those physical gifts as much as possible. That’s why I think that it’s silly when a guy that’s a lock for the first round returns to school. If you’re looking to set yourself up financially for life and provide for your family, why would you pass on the guaranteed, seven-figure contract that will allow you to avoid pretending to care about class and get rid of those pesky practice limits?

But here’s the problem with Steele’s argument: McCollum was not one of those guys. There was no guarantee that he would get picked in the first round last season. He’s a 6-foot-3 scoring guard whose strength is as a slasher. He’s Dwyane Wade minus three inches and no where near as explosive. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player, but he would have been one of those guys sweating out the end of the first round, hoping that someone was willing to make an investment on him.

The same can be said for Mike Moser, another guy that has been injured this season after returning to school. Steele uses him in his argument as well. Moser was terrific last season, but he’s a combo-forward that’s not strong enough to play in the post in the NBA and that shot 33.1% from three last season. He may have gotten drafted, but it all-likelihood it would have been in the second round.

Those two both came back to school for three reasons:

1) A chance for another season playing with their teammates. We can make fun of college sports for simply being a proving ground for the next level, but that doesn’t change the fact that those 19 and 20 year olds become a family during their time together.

2) The opportunity to spend another season working on their game and proving themselves for the next level. McCollum had been shooting the ball much, much better this season and, prior to the injury, was projected as a lottery pick by DraftExpress.com. Moser, before the injury, was going to get a chance to prove himself on the perimeter as UNLV’s front line is populated by Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch.

3) The 2013 Draft is wide-open. Think about it like this: Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III, two guys that could have been top five picks in 2011, went late in the 20’s in 2012. Those are the guys that McCollum and Moser would have been battling with to earn a spot in the first round.

Steele is right.

It’s dumb to return to school and risk injury when you have guaranteed millions staring you in the face.

But neither Moser nor McCollum were in that situation.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. 2017 power forward/center verbally commits to Arkansas

    Aug 2, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Mike Anderson AP

    After a rough July that included suspensions and a recruit heading to prep school, Arkansas received some good news on the first day of August.

  2. Three-star shooting guard becomes Wake Forest’s second 2016 commitment

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Danny Manning AP

    Brandon Childress, son of Wake Forest great Randolph Childress, was the first commit in the class for the Demon Deacons.

  3. Former Weber State, D-League assistant Phil Beckner joins Nebraska coaching staff

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics

    Praised for his ability as both a coach and recruiter, Beckner also helped develop Damian Lillard into a lottery pick.

  4. Three-star power forward trims list to five

    Aug 1, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    Childs played well with the Utah Prospects in Las Vegas during the final evaluation period.

  5. Five-star shooting guard focusing on ten schools

    Aug 1, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp 2015 - Day One Getty Images

    Indiana, Kentucky and St. John’s are among the ten, as many expected.

  6. Semifinal matchups for Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic announced

    Aug 1, 2015, 5:27 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    SMU will be the headliner for this event, with the semifinals scheduled for December 22 and the third place and title games the following night.

  7. Wichita State lands transfer guard from Texas A&M

    Aug 1, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Former Texas A&M guard Peyton Allen is now a Shocker.

  8. Iowa sophomore forward shows improvement in summer league

    Aug 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    (Brian Ray/Hawkeyesports.com) (Brian Ray/Hawkeyesports.com)

    Iowa is hoping for improvement from a sophomore forward who showed promise this summer.

  9. adidas Nations releases list of college counselors

    Aug 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    There will be 39 college counselors playing at adidas Nations this weekend.

  10. Isaac Humphries is Kentucky’s insurance policy inside, but should that be concerning?

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:52 AM EDT

    FIBA FIBA

    Is this an addition for depth, or should Kentucky be concerned about another center?

  11. Source: Isaac Humphries expected to commit to Kentucky, enroll in 2015

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:44 AM EDT

    (Francois Nel/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kentucky continues to add international pieces to its latest recruiting class.

  12. Summer mixtape of five-star guard Markelle Fultz (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    markelle fultz

    Markelle Fultz was one of the best players during the July live evaluation period.

  13. Five-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson cancels visit and sets official to Duke

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Duke gets a huge official visit in late August from a five-star guard.

  14. UCLA gets commitment from Class of 2019 guard and brother of five-star commitment

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    LaMelo Ball, a 13-year-old guard, committed to UCLA like his two older brothers.

  15. Michigan State guard returns from multiple foot injuries

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Maryland v Michigan State Getty Images

    Michigan State sophomore guard Javon Bess will try to stay healthy and in the rotation next season.

  16. Richmond lands its second 2016 commitment of the week

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Chris Mooney - UR AP

    Both are perimeter players, giving the Spiders additional depth moving forward.

  17. Four-star combo guard trims list to five schools

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Rivals Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Rivals

    McLaughlin de-committed from Washington in mid-May, but the Huskies remain in the mix.

  18. Appeals court grants stay of injunction in O’Bannon lawsuit

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    ed o'bannon Getty Images

    The injunction would have allowed current and future players to be compensated for the uses of their names, images and likenesses.