He looks pensive, but he’s really just saying “One Mississippi… Two Mississippi…”
KSR linked an article the other day, via Aaron’s Basketball links, wherein everyone’s favorite “Round Mound of Rebound” made a bold claim: nobody from last year’s championship team should have entered the NBA Draft. Even though Barkley was operating with the advantage of hindsight that those kids didn’t get (the deadline to withdraw is now famously, and shamefully, close to the end of the NCAA Tournament), I couldn’t disagree with him more on the topic.
Kentucky fans, no question, would have liked to see AD, MKG, and company back for a second year. All of the woes we’ve had so far this season, even in a “down” year for college ball, have been a direct result of the hangover last year’s championship has brought. Everyone, from the coaches to the players to the fans to the media, had unrealistic expectations going in. Thank last year’s class for that. But Barkley’s argument is that so far, none of the six guys drafted has made an impact for their teams. I’m okay to stipulate that that’s a valid point. But rather than say that they shouldn’t have come out, maybe he should put the responsibility for this problem where it belongs: on the teams drafting, and on the NCAA.
If you’re a talented young player and have a virtual lock to go number one in a professional sporting league’s draft, you do it. If you go second overall, you do that, too. And then you work out everything else later. There is so much uncertainty with possible injury, the fluctuation of talent from year to year, and your team’s success, that career-wise, you have to go pro when it’s a good opportunity for you to do so. For Barkley to say these kids were wrong to leave school and go pro when they did, because their teams are still struggling, shows he’s not focused on where he really should be.
He did mention in his explanation that the NCAA should work out a system to pay these players a modest amount to stay in school, but still continue physical training to increase strength and ability. And while that seems like a good idea, and certainly one that Cal and some others are in agreement with, the reality is that that hasn’t happened yet. A college athlete’s choices are either stay in school and risk injury, falling draft stock, etc., or go pro, make your money, and live with whatever losses your team takes. For Charles Barkley to say that it ruins the integrity of the game might be accurate, but it’s unfair to put that burden on the guys that have the fewest choices of everyone involved.
So while I disagree with what you say, Charles Barkley, you were still my favorite Monstar. And maybe don’t say that these guys should have stayed in school, but that school (read: the NCAA) should have better options for them to make staying more appealing. Because until then, as much as I’d like to see some of the title squad on this year’s team, I can’t even start to blame them for leaving. And you shouldn’t either.