Skip the Madness of March For the Glory of the NBA

El Vaquero Staff Writer

The nation will soon simmer down from the hoopla of March Madness’ Final Four and start to pay attention to the best basketball the hardwood can offer: the NBA.

The primary reason college basketball does not offer the level of competition and play its professional counterpart does is that many top-playing high school graduates jump right over college and dunk into the pros.

Can anyone really blame them? Well almost every columnist and expert howled with anger when players started skipping college for the NBA.?
The fat cats from the National Collegiate Athletics Association just seethe with anger every time a Kobe Bryant or a Kevin Garnett slips away from their money-hungry fingertips. With good reason.

The men’s college basketball mega-industry collects a whopping $10 billion in revenues from the tournament. If players are the sole reason for the collection of that sort of money, then of course they expect to be paid, right? Not in college basketball they don’t. ?

Packed stadiums have thousands of fans wearing the premier players jerseys, but all the players get in return is a free college education.
The problem with this is the NCAA gets the money from the sales of jerseys, ticket sales and everything else wrapped up in a 11-year $6 -billion CBS Television contract.

The only education the players seem to be getting is a survey course on how to get exploited. Why don’t they offer the head coaches free education or free gas instead of million dollar contracts??

A Kobe Bryant or a Kevin Garnett would bring in a few million each and the NCAA just does not want to miss that opportunity again.

Kobe did the right thing after high school. He ended up with the Lakers and is playing in his eighth season and has three championships.

Garnett is in his second consecutive race for the most valuable player and has been deemed one of the most versatile players in the league. Imagine either of them wasting years in college against weaker competition offering no growth.?

Now a college education is important, but if a player has the talent only dreams can create, then why waste his time in college? Most people that attend college pick a major and take classes accordingly to get on track to a career.

The argument that the player is not prepared to play in the NBA, so he should play in college first, has no validity. What better way to prepare for the NBA than actually practice, play and experience it firsthand??

The NBA has also experienced a flood of foreign players who never played a lick of college ball. Recent world champion Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs played professionally in France since the age of 15 and out-dueled his college-experienced opponent, Jason Kidd.

With foreign players like German born Dirk Nowitzki and most valuable player candidate Peja Stojakovic opening the door for more players coming from abroad, the domestic crop should be able to jump in just as quickly.

The only thing that should determine whether a player can play in the NBA is skill. No more complaining from the media about kids not being ready. They actually are.?

Those who are still not convinced that players from high school can make it in the pros should look at the numbers as they depict the cold hard facts: four of the five top leading scorers in the NBA, as of today, are either college no-shows or foreign born. (Tracy McCgrady, Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, Kevin Garnett). ?

Last year’s all-NBA First Team (the best five players in the league) included Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Garnett, all players straight out of high school.

Last year’s rookie of the year was hotly contested between Amare Stoudemire and Yao Ming, with Stoudemire taking the hardware without a college degree.

Lebron James, who is the most hyped athlete to ever come straight out of high school, is shining in the limelight, filling in the stat sheet going 13th in the league in scoring, 18th in steals and16th in steals; all against seasoned veterans.

It has been proven time and time again that players straight out high school can succeed.?

For persuasive purposes and some fun let us set up a team of players jumping over the college fence. Lebron James, Bryant, McCgrady, Garnett and Yao Ming make up my starters. Jermaine O’Neal, Amare Stoudemire can be put in anywhere in case of injury (foreign players were omitted to prove a point of the success of the American-born players). Can anyone really offer up a better team collectively than that? I do not think so.
Due to the players who skip college and jump into the pros, the major collegiate programs are not able to recruit the biggest names and there is finally parity in the game.

Imagine Lebron James playing at Duke, where would the excitement be in that? It would be better to put these players directly into the NBA. This would allow him to go up against the best the game has to offer day in and day out and excite fans around the globe at the same time.?
Let the players that are not able to cut it in the pros play in college and let the best play against the best.?