Brandon Jennings, the recently-graduated high school basketball phenom,
who attended Compton Dominguez and then Oak Hill Academy (Virginia),
signs a letter of intent to attend the University of Arizona.
It figures the McDonald’s All-American will be a “one-and-done”
Wildcat, leaving after his freshman season for the NBA draft.
However, the lure of getting paid for displaying his considerable
talents becomes the priority and he opts to escape to Europe where he
can enjoy being rewarded handsomely with a playing contract and
opportunities for lucrative endorsement deals while he reaches the NBA’s
mandatory age minimum of 19 and fulfills the association’s
one-year-removed-from-high school rule.
The educational purist will argue that it is important for a young
athlete to participate in the college experience as part of his
maturation process, even if only for a year, and ultimately, begin
building an educational foundation on which to prepare for a career
However, it is difficult even for the purist to ignore the amount of quick
money available, even if it is European-born, to the young athlete – in
Jennings’ case reportedly an unconfirmed multimillion-dollar deal over
three years – that can be a major step toward financial security.
Those who suggest the $$ side of the argument always mention the
possibililty of injury. If suffered while playing in college, it could
end any hopes of playing professionally, but if it occurs as a
professional (think Clippers point guard Shaun Lingston), the money
already is in the bank to provide financial peace of mind.
A tough decision for the young athlete, or is it really?
Jennings’ situation begs the question whether an 18-year-old just out
of high school is mature enough to deal with the opportunities (both
socially and financially, both good and bad) society has to offer. Or is
that really relevant when there are a plethora of advisors available
just waiting to provide guidance not only in any direction he chooses,
but in helping him make the choice.
A tough decision for today’s young athletes, or is it really?
NOTE: It is important to consider Jennings’ situation also may have
been affected by the NCAA Clearing House’s decision to question his SAT
scores, thereby putting in jeopardy his opportunity to play for Arizona as a freshman .