One And Done: Making it to The League


The fame, the fortune, the hype. Greatness is practically inevitable, but only achievable for those who are willing to sacrifice it all and pour everything they have into one season of sports. Whether it is the intensive recruiting process that has taken over the daily agendas of coaches, to the overwhelming hype between making that faithful leap and committing oneself to a University, college sports are, without a doubt, more intense and hyped up than any other sports platform in the world. College football has the power to captivate entire states. College basketball can shatter the hearts of an entire city. College hockey can dictate your heart rate for an entire three hours straight. One of these sports, however, is beginning to turn into simply a stepping stone to making it to the highest level of play. College basketball is a whole new breed compared to what it was ten years ago.

Programs all across the nation are raking in millions of dollars every year through ticket and apparel sales. Teams like Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina have found themselves in the top ten year after year; their facilities are second to none, and the programs are headed by the brightest minds in the game. Incredible brain power, and the ability to see talent in young kids, are what separates coaches like Tom Izzo, John Calipari, Jim Boeheim, and Roy Williams apart from the rest.

How do they get these athletes to come? By presenting them with the opportunity that every young kid shooting hoops in their driveway has dreamt of: to make it to the NBA. Sure, lots of kids pick schools with great programs in what they want to major in, or are following in the family footsteps and bringing their name to the alma mater. Even the idea of playing under legendary coaches is enough to put pen to paper. But more and more frequently today, kids are committing with the intention of heading straight to the NBA draft after just one season. For some coaches, they want players who are committed to staying as long as possible, to get a degree, and to be fully invested in the program and it’s journey towards the dance in march. Others, however, drool over the aspect of having that unbelievably gifted five-star recruit wear their school’s colors.

Lonzo Ball is easily one of the most enjoyable players to watch in college. His vision on the court is unrivaled, and the kid can spot up from just about anywhere on the court. His athletic ability and talent have been creating a following ever since he stepped into the high school game, wowing coaches all across the country with his handles, shooting style, and other siblings who are following in his footsteps. Ball explained to his coach from the moment that he was being recruited by the UCLA Bruins that he was only going to spend one year at the school of his choice. Ball was never afraid to tell the coaches his plan, and many embraced the idea with open arms.

Deyonta Davis, a powerful and athletic big man from Muskegon high school, spent only one season with the MSU Spartans and Tom Izzo before entering his number into the lottery. The aggressive power forward had an extremely quiet freshman year, averaging just 7.5 PPG. His athletic ability and potential to develop into a complete player is what interested many teams. The young 20 year old is now on the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging just 1.9 PPG. It is safe to say that Davis could have developed into a much more complete player had he stuck around with Izzo for a year or two more. For Davis, however, the chance to earn some serious money and become an independent young man was the most important thing for him.

Some kids, like D’angelo Russell from Ohio State, are clearly ready to play at the next level from the moment they step into the college spotlight. Russell was the complete package as a college point guard. He had outstanding vision for finding the open man, was smart with the ball, and had a lethal stroke. He is now flourishing in the NBA after putting on a show in the summer league before officially playing his first regular season game with the Los Angeles Lakers. Russell currently averages 14.5 PPG and just under 5 assists. He has had plenty of success in the real world, featuring in Foot Locker commercials and even landing a sponsorship deal with Nike. It is safe to say that D’Angelo Russell was more than ready for the league after his freshman year; he was destined for it.

It is more than likely that Miles Bridges from MSU will try his luck in the draft after his freshman season with Izzo. The physical and explosive SF has been rocking the rim all season and has made plenty of appearances on the Scott Van Pelt Show and SC’s Top Ten. Bridges also has a knack for scoring and attacks the rim with authority. Much like Russell, Bridges is very comfortable in his own skin when playing and loves to be in the limelight. His tenacity and hunger to get better is what will most likely propel him through to the next level with success.

So why are so many young superstars in the game of college basketball leaving so early? Why are they departing, when they have three more years of some of the most exciting and competitive games that they will ever play in? Why are they not willing to put their nose to the grindstone and invest in themselves in order to make it all the way to the last game of the season and win themselves a beautiful and shiny national championship trophy? Well, there is actually a laundry list of reasons.

These young athletes adore the idea of making money for doing the very thing that they have loved to do from the moment they were introduced to the game. Compared to making no money whatsoever from playing for their college team, a big check in the mail sounds pretty tempting. Many players also do not enjoy school very much and often find themselves struggling to balance the grueling schedule of playing games and spending time in the classroom. It is easy to let go of the important emphasis of success in the classroom when these players know that school is not as important to them as making it to the NBA. Most do not care about getting that degree and want the fastest path possible to putting their number in the lottery. Sports all across the world are constantly evolving and adapting with society, so who knows what will happen to these youngsters that are leap frogging into the pros. College football put a stop to one and dones after several incidents, including a tragic meltdown by running back Maurice Clarett after the superstar had spilled the beans that he was only going to stay for one year. Soon, we may see the college basketball board come up with some rules of their own. But for now, let’s enjoy the incredible talent and competitiveness present in the game, because basketball truly is beautiful.