By: Brian Burkhart Prep Reporter Twitter: @BrianESPN
A major aspect of not wanting high school kids in the pros is the mental maturity, or lack thereof. This aspect of people is not quantifiable and is a problem for even college players. Professional scouts must attempt to decipher the maturity level of players, and for athletes in their teens, it is nearly impossible to figure out. It is possible that more Ryan Leafs will come out of high school athletes. Even for an athlete with an incredible amount of will and determination to succeed, it is difficult to imagine an 18-year old athlete withstanding the sledgehammer hits of 230 pound linebackers day-in day-out while running grueling training for almost twice the length of their usual high school routine, and, in the case of those that end up starting games, must cope with the incredible amount of pressure from the fans and media.
The problems associated with drafting young out of high school athletes has become even more intensified in the NBA. Each team has a roster of 15, and basketball has no minor league system. This inevitably leads to slow maturing of players, with the most notable and famous being Darko Milicic of the Detroit Pistons. Milicic played a total of 158 minutes over his rookie season. That is less than the time Kevin Garnett plays in four games. However, players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Darko Milicic, and LeBron James, whom have all skipped college in order to enter the NBA, are actually far from the norm. Again, maturity and a high physical level is necessary in the NBA. One example, although unfair, is 2004 MVP Kevin Garnett. While he has become one of the greatest all-around players in the history of basketball, one of the greatest knocks on Garnett has been his reluctance to post-up.
This could, although admittedly unfairly, be attributed to his early entrance into the NBA. Skipping college, Garnett was not ready for the physical game of the NBA and struggled in his early years, and has since become a regular 20-point scorer by taking jump shots. Imagine if he had learned to post-up with his seven-foot body. Kwame Brown, a former first-overall pick, is the perfect example of a high school kid with not enough maturity. Brown finally after a few years in the league, managed to show flashes of dominance, at last showing hustle and determination. Had it not been for his first-overall status, Brown could very well be out of the NBA by now, looking for a job outside of basketball. Not every high schooler will have the opportunity to be drafted early and have that leverage in being kept in the league to develop. I fell that college not only helps a player mature mentally but it also gives them more experience to things they will be dealing with in the pros, things such as traveling a lot, going to huge arenas and playing in hostile environments. Even if the athlete thinks college is a joke and wants to go straight to professional, it still will give him a great deal of experience going to college even if it is only for one year.
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