Players should go professional if ready


In response to Craig Degel's March 27 editorial titled "Thoughts on Underclassmen and the NBA," I propose that everyone attending any college is there for one reason: to acquire an education so they will be prepared to enter a competitive job market with better skills. In basketball, football, or baseball, where professional careers are very profitable, players should enter the draft when they feel ready to compete at a higher level.

Sports are different than other professions that it is difficult to assess the pros and cons of leaving college early. If a good player makes $20 million over the course of their careers, they should be set for life. Even without a college education, players can go into broadcasting, coaching, small businesses, or any number of fields. Let us not forget these men will have time and money to complete their degrees once they have finished playing.

When Scotty Thurman and Corliss Williamson entered the draft, they had both won a national title and been to the national championship two years in a row. They had little left to accomplish in terms of individual or team achievement. Both were top nine all-time scorers at Arkansas after three years, ranking behind current or former NBA players. Thurman was regarded as one of the best shooting guards in the draft, though he does not have the size the NBA likes in shooting guards. Williamson, instead of "riding the bench" (especially not for Minnesota), recently started for Sacramento and did pretty well. All he needed was an opportunity.

Sean Higgins might be the worst example because he has never had the opportunity to shine in the NBA. To start with, he is a 6'9" shooting guard. Through his career he has been playing behind Willie Anderson, Nick Anderson, Latrell Sprewell, and fellow underclassman Jerry Stackhouse. The other night, he played 31 minutes, had 11 points and 6 assists, and aided the 76ers win over the Raptors. Chris Webber is one of the best power forwards in basketball when healthy. He was the Rookie of the Year and set several records. The success stories seem far more numerous than the failures.

As Mr. Degel mentioned, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kidd made good decisions. They were so much better than their college opponents it was "scary." These players had enough talent to enter the career of their choice and succeed. Kevin Garnett wanted to attend Michigan before heading to the NBA draft, but he could not score the SAT minimum. He now has a promising future and Minnesota can build a team around him, like Seattle did with Shawn Kemp. I wonder if Mr. Degel thinks Marcus Camby is ready for the NBA Draft. Remember, he is just a junior.

Adam Gilbert
chemical engineering sophomore