One of the things we've tried to keep in mind when talking about all the
early-entry issues are the kids and their welfare. It's an
often-overlooked aspect of the whole situation. The other day, Jay Bilas
said that he was sick of people saying that college wasn't for everyone, and we
took issue with him in one regard. Guys like Chris Washburn, who have no
interest in college, take away a chance from a kid who does deserve a
shot. Frankly, a kid from Lumberton or Mt. Airy who has busted his butt to
get a B average shouldn't be denied a shot at college because a Chris Washburn
or Lloyd Daniels can play a game.
Fundamentally, though, Jay is correct, of
course: education opens doors and minds, and the ultimate democratic impulse is
to educate everyone as thoroughly as possible and let them find their way
through life with useful tools.
So along those lines, it
was refreshing to see Armstrong Williams touch on some things which went beyond
simply money, like the moral framework that these kids are being presented
with. If that seems over the top to you, a more practical point: only 31
percent of the early entry guys from 1997 onwards still have jobs -- and
keep in mind that a lot of them have contracts which will expire in the near
future, like William Avery, who has yet to really establish himself in the
But back to his main point. He says the primary effect of
being treated like boy-kings "is only to further separate these children form the social conventions that build character in the rest of us."
As examples, he points to DeShawn Stevenson, who stands accused of statutory
rape, and some accounts apparently say he admitted it to the mother of the girl,
and Leon Smith, who was totally lost after he was drafted. He might also
point to Dontonio Wingfield and Clifford Rozier, guys who should have had the
world at their feet, or Shawn Kemp, whose inability to master condoms, let alone
a more basic sense of responsibility, have left him with enough illegitimate
children to field a baseball team.
Too often, not only do these young dreamers
not realize what a cut throat world they are entering, they simply have no
meaningful skills to cope with the temptations they find: sex, drugs,
entourages, and various other parasitical people and behaviors.
Anyway, we are
glad to hear someone talk coherently about the other issues the system raises
but rarely acknowledges. We love basketball, and we love rock and roll, but we
wouldn't want our kids in the NBA at 18 any more than we'd want them on a rock
and roll tour. The NBA in many respects is just a rock tour with mandatory