It's important to be confident. It's important to be self-assured. These are the things you hear from your teachers, parents, Intro to Psych professors, self-help authors and daytime TV talk-show hosts. If you don't love yourself, how you can love anyone else?
Good advice, I suppose. Thing is ... what if you're not supposed to be confident? What if a certain situation requires not only humility, but a keen, mature understanding of one's personal or professional limitations? What if, sometimes, the best long-term decisions are made in that frame of mind?
There is a point to all this rambling, and it's about Ashton Gibbs, the Pittsburgh junior who, to the surprise of many, entered his name in the 2011 NBA draft earlier this month. Gibbs has not hired an agent and his decision was initially described as exploratory, but the sharpshooting guard told CBS's Jeff Borzello (proud owner of three Blackberries) that he was 100 percent certain on his plans to stay in the draft:
“When I entered the draft, I entered to get drafted,” Gibbs said. “I feel like I can play on that level and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The problem here, simply put, is that Gibbs needs another year in college basketball. He's a fantastic shooter and scorer, but he's a little too small and a little too unathletic to just be a scorer in the NBA. Gibbs would probably work best in the league as a combo guard -- someone who can create plays for teammates, too -- and those skills might be best acquired with another year under Jamie Dixon at Pittsburgh.
The NBA seems to agree with this assessment. Gibbs isn't listed as a first- or second-round pick in any notable mock drafts. ESPN.com's Chad Ford doesn't even list Gibbs in his top 100.
Which is where that whole confidence-versus-doubt dynamic comes into play. Gibbs is a very skilled, elite Division I athlete. From a young age, every coach worth his salt has been telling him to compete with hard-nosed defiance, to work every day at proving he's making the most of his prodigious talent, to never accept failure as an outcome. It's not hard to figure out why Gibbs would take his marginal draft status as a challenge; that's what top athletes are supposed to do.
Still, at this point, the benefits of returning to school far outweigh the riskiness of this year's lockout-riddled draft for most prospects. Gibbs is no different. In other words, let's hope the young star's confidence doesn't lead him to an inadvisable decision. Sometimes, you have to know your limits.
(Update: According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Gibbs will make his decision in "a week or so." It's also worth noting that he seems far less determined to stay in the draft than his statements to Borzello might indicate.)