Tuesday , Nov , 09 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

College Coaches Can’t Compete with NBA Hype

After a record eight players made the jump from high school straight to the NBA college coaches are more hesitant than ever to recruit players that might not even step foot on a college court.

College Coaches Can't Compete with NBA Hype“You have to decide who to recruit and who not to recruit”, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said in an interview with USA Today.

Unfortunately for college coaches they are forced to refocus their recruiting strategies.

They either take a chance on recruiting a nationally ranked player that might be swayed by the reality that they can be instant millionaires in the NBA, or just simply take a chance on a lesser known player that is not fit for the NBA style of play.

Many top ranked college programs never even put out the effort in recruiting Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (Atlanta) phenom Dwight Howard because of his intense desire to play in the NBA after his senior season.

Howard was so sure of an NBA career that he didn’t sign a letter of intent to play college ball.

All eight players that opted for this year’s draft were selected before college player of the year Jameer Nelson was taken as the 20th pick by the Denver Nuggets and later that night traded to the Magic for a future first round pick.

Another startling fact was that 14 first round picks were underclassmen. Howard who was the first selection in this year’s draft as a high school senior was offered a three-year contract worth $11.2 million by the Orlando Magic.

Howard became the third No.1 high school selection in the NBA draft in the last fours years behind LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2003) and Kwame Brown (Washington Wizards, 2001).

Orlando is hoping that Howard will live up to the lofty expectations that comes with being the No. 1 pick in the draft and lead the Magic into the playoffs much like last years No.1 pick LeBron James nearly did with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds per game while playing 39 minutes per contest for the Cavs.

Regardless of whether the powers to be in Orlando hope that the “magic is back” one NBA General Manager is not convinced that Howard has what it takes to make an immediate impact in the league right now.

“What we’re seeing is players with size and potential but you don’t see the finished product,” Nash said.

“There are very few players in this draft that are ready to step in and play meaningful minutes in the NBA.

“I don’t know that Dwight Howard is capable of stepping in and playing right now,” said Portland Trailblazers General Manager John Nash in an interview with NBA Today.

Most players that enter the draft are convinced that they can step in and put up the quality minutes that an NBA team is looking for and can play a key role down the stretch.

The reality is that the majority of the players drafted seldom see any action and are considered a work in progress by league standards.

The college game offers many different intangibles that are overlooked and undervalued by the lure of being the next NBA millionaire.

The college environment offers players the time they need to improve on their game along with affording them the discipline it takes to successfully make it at the next level.

The college game offers players the chance to showcase their skills while competing against players of equal talent and ability while at the same time learning the invaluable life lessons that the NBA simply doesn’t have time to teach a young player until it’s too late.

The only thing that any top ranked college programs can offer a recruit is the possibility of another national championship and of course, a full-ride scholarship, and that doesn’t even seem to carry enough weight for a player to consider opting for the college experience.

The NCAA rules committee has placed a stranglehold on Division I college coaches in restricting the times a player can be contacted during an academic year (5) and also placing a limitation on the recruiting season (May-July) whereas NBA scouts and agents can contact a player at anytime without being penalized.

The Duke Blue Devils were victims of this year’s draft when Shaun Livingston opted to jump straight to the NBA and was selected fourth overall by the LA Clippers.

Livingston, a nationally ranked senior from Peoria Central (IL) earlier this year signed a letter of intent to play for the perennial powerhouse Blue Devils.

After this year’s NBA draft college coaches are now being forced to focus their attention to players that are committed to playing more than one year at the college level hoping to keep player in the program for all four years.