Early in the season, a big storyline has been the depth and domination of diaper dandies.
We have seen some brilliant performances from Derrick Rose of Memphis, Michael Beasley of Kansas State, UCLA's Kevin Love, OJ Mayo of USC, Kyle Singler from Duke, Jonny Flynn and Donte Greene of Syracuse, Indiana's Eric Gordon … and the list goes on and on.
Beasley scored 30-plus points and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in his first two college games. Gordon put on a show with 33 points (including seven trifectas) and six boards in his collegiate debut. Rose was electric in two wins in the 2K Sports event benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
There is so much depth, but why? How are these kids able to step on a college campus and being such dominating forces already. My friends, it is actually simple. We live in a world of specialization and these kids play basketball 12 months a year. They not only play year-round, and you can argue the pros and cons of this all day long, but they travel all over the nation to face top-flight competition.
The way you get better and develop as a player is simple too … face the best of the best, the crème de la crème and you will learn and improve. There is so much competition at a young age, kids playing in AAU tournaments and getting the chance to play. When they step on the collegiate campus, it is no big deal. They have been in pressure situations before, against top-flight talent.
These kids are ready to put the uniform on and become major factors immediately. They have been important already. The expectations are higher too because they have been written up in magazines and on the internet.
Then there are some kids, diaper dandies flying under the radar. What about Gonzaga's 6-10 Austin Daye, the son of former UCLA star Darren Daye. Manny Harris at Michigan is a name to remember. James Harden at Arizona State and James Anderson at Oklahoma State have potential to do big things for their respective teams. Anderson scored 29 points in his regular-season collegiate debut.
The NBA rule change that sent high school stars to college for at least one season has been a factor too. It has been a good change and you see some great talent excelling as part of the diaper dandy ranks.
It is all about specialization, work ethic and playing against top competition on a regular basis.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.