With the final horn in the NCAA Championship game Monday night in Atlanta, March Madness officially gave way to April’s anticipation.
With the season now complete, men’s basketball players from all over the country will start thinking about their futures.
Will they stay in school, or will they leave early for the world of professional basketball?
Players who aren’t graduating in 2013 have until 11:59 p.m. on April 28 to declare themselves eligible for the NBA Draft.
And up until that deadline, April can be more agonizing than March for college basketball fans. Rumors start to surface about your favorite players — “I heard his parents want him to stay,” or “I heard he wants to finish out his degree.”
April is a time for college basketball players to have those contemplative conversations with their families and their coaches — coaches that have likely already reached out to NBA teams to gauge the interest in their players.
And while fans may want players to stay in school in the name of loyalty and with the hopes of a better season next year, the decision about the next step in a lifelong journey is much more complicated.
I tried to put myself in their shoes — though those shoes are much bigger and have been higher off the ground than my shoes have ever been — and consider the options.
I recall, after my freshman campaign, staring down a pretty dismal GPA and looking for just about any reason to jump ship. So, had I the temptation of a full-time job with a considerable salary at that juncture, without a doubt I would have been gone.
But after another year or two, my GPA rose, much like the draft stock of players who gain valuable experience with NCAA seasons.
Of course, higher stock likely translates to more guaranteed money. Even as a junior, after thinking about it — and probably not listening to my parents about it — I can’t imagine I would turn down employment that didn’t require a college degree.
But for basketball players, its not just any employment. It is the goal they’ve been working toward their entire basketball lives.
It would be important, though, to be sure that if I made the decision to leave early that the longevity of my career was as secure as it could be.
For basketball players, immediate playing time and success that leads to longer careers tends to follow first-round draft picks more consistently than it does those selected in the second round — for obvious reasons.
Of the current Tar Heels in conversations about the June 27 NBA Draft, only James Michael McAdoo is a projected first-round pick.
But should your favorite player decide to leave school and make the leap in April, remember he’s pursuing a career and chasing a dream.
And given a similar opportunity, I’d probably take it, too.
Contact Brandon Moree at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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