Stay in College or Leave Early?

How long should college basketball players remain in college before leaving for the NBA draft?  Should the requirement to play a year in college, be doubled, tripled or removed?

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This just depends on who you ask.  A few of the greatest players of all time came straight from High School including Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.  If they went to colle

ge how would that change their contributions to the game?

One thing is for sure.  It would have been very entertaining to see Lebron play at Ohio State, or to see Kobe play at UNC or Duke, even if it was for a year. There are definitely a select few players who come out of high school physically ready for the NBA.  However, I believe college can provide much more for a young player than just the physical advantage of an extra year of hitting t

he weight room, especially if the schools they choose are educating them effectively:

  1. Team atmosphere: You see far fewer on one-on-one, isolation plays in college basketball than you see in the NBA. While you need to play as a team to win in either the NCAA or NBA, I believe great schools teaches you how to be a great teammate – an art that is easily lost when you begin making the big bucks.
  2. Mental and Psychological Benefits – The best NBA players are extremely tough mentally, and the best college coaches are great at teaching this mental toughness.  If you are a young player who gets a ton of media attention, this can certainly take a psychological toll. At a good school, a player should learn how handle the media effectively, a skill that can be very lucrative for a player, especially when considering companies like to pay big endorsement dollars to players who maintain a good image.
  3. Structure on and off the court: Just because you are physically ready does not mean you are mature enough for the NBA.  You’ve heard the story.  A 19 year old kid on a long road trip with his team and a pocket full of money he is not used to having?  Sounds like a great way to end up with several “baby mommas.” College provides a structured atmosphere, so that when a player reaches the NBA, they hopefully don’t act like a clown off the court and ruin their reputation and brand.

I definitely understand it is tough for some young stars to pass up the paycheck, especially if their family doesn’t have a lot of money.  If I had the opportunity to leave early and be a lottery pick in the NBA draft, I would find it hard to stay in school and risk injury.  With that said, those players who take advantage of their college education can often use their education for a better career in the NBA.

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