May 11, 2005
There has been an avalanche of underclassmen who have thrown their names into the NBA draft. Many have not signed with an agent, and that's a good move because some declare for the draft simply because of ego, ego, ego.
That's right, these young players see their buddies testing the water and believe they're ready for the NBA, too. Then they get attention and headlines.
Really, though, declaring for the draft without hiring an agent is a win-win situation.
What does a kid lose by putting his name on the draft list? If he gets invited to the Chicago camp, he faces top-notch competition and learns something about his ability and his game. And he still can return to school by withdrawing his name one week before the draft (this year, the early-entry withdrawal deadline is June 21).
There are only 30 first-round draft picks, baby! But more than 40 underclassmen are currently on the early-entry list.
Meanwhile, Saturday is the deadline for declaring for the draft.
Entering the NBA draft early is not an easy decision. Sometimes kids feel peer pressure, and they want the ultimate respect. So the early-entry list keeps growing, and plenty of talented players are on it. The question is, do these guys realize the simple math involved?
There are only 30 first-round draft picks, baby! We know that some college seniors, some international players and a few high school players will be drafted in the first round. But more than 40 underclassmen are currently on the early-entry list.
Clearly, a number of disappointed underclassmen won't hear their names called by NBA commissioner David Stern in round one. That means no guaranteed contract and a battle just to make an NBA roster.
Go ask Omar Cook, Marcus Taylor and Rod Grizzard about that.
That's a scary prospect for these early-entry kids. Something must be done to bring stability to both the NBA and the college game. And I've offered a plan to help bring about a solution.
A panel of NBA general managers would identify which high school players they see as lottery picks, so a LeBron James-type player isn't denied the proper NBA opportunity. Also, as with college baseball, when a kid steps onto a college campus, he wouldn't be able to be drafted by the NBA until after his third year.
As the early-entry list continues to grow, something must be done now more than ever. Yes, some underclassmen are potential top-10 picks, but many others who stay in the draft will be risking their future unnecessarily.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.