I told people that this young gunna’ is different…
A while back, I posted this shot of Brandon Jennings that I caught at the MLK Invitational in Greensboro. I called him the second coming of Kenny Anderson. I called him the best high-school point guard of this decade, and I still don’t think that I’m that far-off with that assessment. (Note: Many people would say that Chris Paul would be at that level. I thought Jennings played against tougher competition.)
Yet, what I respect Jennings game at such a high level is that on-the-court he has a confidence of 30 year-old veteran. You don’t often see that from a player his age, which is why that I’m not surprised to hear that Jennings may shock the world of college basketball soon with the threat of taking his game overseas in order to play with a top-line European team.
Sure, Kevin Garnett shook the world of basketball by going pro in the ’90s. We hadn’t seen such as move in a span of twenty years beforehand. However, not since ‘89 when Danny Ferry and Brian Shaw ditched the Clippers and the Celtics and their first-round selection status to for Italy’s Il Messangaro have we seen a realistic threat of a player ditching the traditional route of a NBA future for a year of tutelage in Europe. (Note: As a ’80s Celtic fan, I never forgave Shaw for that one…Double-down on that one when he joined up with the Lakers in the early ’00’s…I think he may be one of the worst things that happened to the Celtics over the past 25 years.)
According to his mother, Alice Knox, the threat is more than just a passing. “We’re weighing all the options,” Knox said last Thursday. “We’re not bluffing about playing in Europe and even if Brandon gets the SAT score doesn’t mean he’s going to college.” Jennings later told ESPN.com that going to Europe would take a “perfect situation” where a team needs a point guard, has an attentive coach and an American on the roster to guide Jennings.
This may be the best idea that has come about in college basketball the past fifteen years.
Who is not tired of perceived ’student-athletes’ treating college basketball and campuses as a jump-off for the league?
These cases are complete wastes of educational time on college campuses. In the case of Jennings, he has not displayed even a feign of interest for developing academic progress in two years at Oak Hill. The guy barely passed his SAT…with suspicion, and from all points of view, he has made no intention to progress his education beyond his freshman year at
Arizona. If not for the NBA’s half-assed effort to retain kids in college basketball, Jennings and others such as Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and O.J. Mayo would have been long gone. Why do these players have to spend time on a college campus?
Hell, Kevin Love didn’t even live on UCLA’s campus this season.
If Brandon Jennings does not want to go to school, and is only attending for the sole reason to spend time to go to the league, then he should be able to play as a pro. That is the league’s responsibility to develop that product not an educational institution that does not list ‘basketball’ as a certified major.
In fact, future players choosing to develop in the NBDL and in Europe will probably become far better players with NBA and Euro Pro coaching. If a player has no interest in earning a college degree or attending college classes. Why should he be forced to do so?
For a player like Brandon Jennings, he will be allowed to focus full-time on developing his game, but also due to the fact that he would be forced to learn another culture, spend inordinate time with himself, and be forced to deal with players from another country would better his game.
The question is whether he’ll be able to compete in a lot of the European A-leagues…Yet, I don’t think that a first-round pick would be able to hang in Europe. I’m serious….Going up against a 26-year old Omar Cook is no joke…Guys are very hungry over there for their jobs. Believe me, joke time is over.
Despite the fierce competitiveness that a player would endure in Europe, after watching the changes of players who visit Chapel Hill from their European stints, I’m convinced that Europe would not only ready them for the following year’s draft, but also develop them as people. (I just would love to see how a Brandon Jennings and others would react to the notorious two-a-day practices or how he’ll deal with Euro team management and their erratic paydays after a couple of shaky nights.)
My fellow heelhoops list-serv mate and New Republic editor, Jason Zengerle, wrote a great article on Sonny Vaccaro in the New Republic entitled “The Pivot.” Check out Zengerle’s article here. There a lot of juicy ideas to tug upon in an argument over the ethics of college basketball. Zengerle penned a great article.
Now, Vaccaro is the ultimate lighting rod for arguments concerning the ethics of college athletics, and he is the full-blended definition of a real-life Robin Hood who acted as a mercenary for shoe companies. No one can ever take a one-sided approach in debating his worth to college basketball.
Yet, Zengerle pulled out an innovative idea from Vaccaro. Vaccaro states that he has been looking for young hoops phenoms who’d be interested in playing overseas for the year they’d otherwise be in college before coming back to enter the NBA draft. “I need Jackie Robinson; I need a guy who can stand this,” he says. “And I think I’ll have one.”
From the type of guys that he has influenced over the years that have gone astray from the traditional route such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, O.J. Mayo, Shawn Kemp, Chris Mills, and Carmelo Anthony, Jennings fits that Jackie Robinson mold. And with Vaccaro’s connections and proximity to Los Angeles, we can assume that his fingers are pulling some cords from above the manifold.
All said, a move for Europe could be a great move for Jennings…
This blogga hopes that these types of will become a trend because a lot of these types of players will be forced to grow-up fast in this type of environment. Formerly coddled players will be better people, more well-rounded culturally, more appreciative, and more importantly from their point of view, better players. Spending mass amounts of time in an empty apartment online, burning-up Skype, watching DVDs, and forced to learn a pigeon-form of a language can do wonderous things for developing an appreciation of the real “game.”
Jennings has a tough chin, commands the court, holds Penn Relay speed, mesmerizes the court with dizzying handles, and what makes him even more special…A slick left-handed jumper that launches and hits from deep. Believe me, the NBA won’t forget about him overseas.
However, let’s just hope that he doesn’t fall into the deep abyss of the forgotten elites, where and what are the high-school legends from Los Angeles from the late ’80s and early ’90s such as Sean Higgins, Earl Duncan, Schea Cotton, and John Williams doing now?
First Class Avion,