Pat Longobardi, Sports Writer:
With the college basketball season no more than two weeks finished, many underclassmen are officially throwing their names into the NBA draft.
I like players broadening their horizons to play professional basketball, however, there is a difference between thinking a player is ready and actually being ready.
Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving is leaving after an injury-plagued season. A projected top five draft pick, Irving was hurt eight games into the season.
I don’t know if leaving was Irving’s best move. Based on being a potential No. 1 pick, Irving needs to declare for the NBA draft. Irving never did get the feel for ACC competition at one of the nation’s top-ranked schools. Irving played only 11 games, and came back for three games in the NCAA Tournament. He also got off to a good start before getting hurt. Unless scouts are going by Irving’s high school play, to say he will be a legitimate top guard is questionable. The fact Irving is being considered a top choice is an example that any highly regarded player on a top team goes a long way.
Kansas will also lose three players early-junior forward Marcus Morris, his twin Markieff and freshman guard Josh Selby. The Morris twins played consistently all season, and are ready for the NBA. This situation is like Kentucky, who lost all five starters from last year. Selby, like Irving, started off hot, but was forgotten in the second half of the season. With all four of these players hiring agents, the pros are their futures. Other underclassmen have until April 24 to declare for the NBA Draft, and May 8 to withdraw to retain college eligibility.
Recently, players who leave college early, such as former freshmen, tend to be high draft picks, and play well in the NBA. Memphis’ Derrick Rose is an up-and-coming point guard, and an MVP candidate with Chicago. Texas’ Kevin Durant is an elite scorer with Oklahoma City and Kentucky’s John Wall was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA draft for Washington.
I think college basketball players should have to play at least two years in college before deciding to move on to the professional level. If an athlete is really good, then going to college at all is one thing. Aside from the value their stocks are now, playing more games helps gain more experience at the college level, and helps prepare them more in NBA playoff-type atmospheres, like the NCAA tournament. If a player wants to leave after the two years, then that is their choice. Leaving after one season is kind of a waste a team’s time in some cases, depending on the player. Staying behind extra time also helps a player get an education as well aside from sports. Getting a degree is just as important, whether being a professional-type athlete, or not.