In 1995 Scotty Thurman was on top of the world. Thurman led the Arkansas Razorbacks to a NCAA basketball championship with one great performance after another. After this miracle season, Thurman made a decision that would change his fortunes. Rather than come back for his senior year and get his degree, he elected to make himself eligible for the NBA draft. With a NCAA championship under his belt, Thurman was confident he was ready for the NBA, but NBA scouts had different ideas. Thurman could only sit and watch the draft from start to finish. Today Thurman finds himself without a college education and still chasing his NBA dream in the Continental Basketball Association. With nothing left to turn back on, basketball is all Thurman has left.
Thurman is only one example of the tragic events surrounding many young NBA prospects. Dreams of fame and fortune often lead these young adults to pass up on the tremendous opportunities to attend top universities on full scholarship. Athletic scholarships give student athletes the opportunity to receive an education and to compete on the collegiate level. NCAA basketball allows athletes to develop both physically and mentally. The skills developed in a college atmosphere go well beyond the basketball court. Still each year anywhere between four and thirty-five athletes prematurely declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft (NBA.com). The chance of success on the professional level is slim yet many continue to take the risk. By choosing not to complete a higher education the future of these athletes is severely limited. Despite the odds of failure, the influx of early entry candidates continues to rise.
Marcus Fizer, a standout junior at Iowa State University, made his thoughts on college basketball clear during his recent announcement to forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA. Thats what college basketball is all about, hearing David Stern (the commissioner of the NBA) call your name (Kindred 2000). Fizer implies that college basketball is merely a stepping stone on the way to professional basketball. Statements like these illustrate how the game of basketball has transformed in recent years from a competitive sport to a business. Old school basketball consisted of student athletes competing fiercely just for the love of the game. Dunks and dollar signs seem to be the main motivational factors that influence Fizers generation of athletes.
Something positive can be taken from the precedents Thurman and Fizer; both at least started a college education and made positive contributions to the game. Each year the number of high school athletes that go directly to the NBA increases. In recent years Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett have become household names with huge contracts. Both of them have risen to stardom after making the jump directly from high school. With all of the hype surrounding these success stories, little is mentioned about those not so...