Years ago, when an underclassman was considering a jump to the NBA, reporters would contact affable NBA scouting director Marty Blake, who died over the weekend, for his opinion.
It rarely changed: Stay in school.
No matter the talent or the upside, Blake insisted more college seasoning improved the product and he always praised those who passed up the draft.
Blake was right, of course. The NBA and college games benefited from experienced amateur players.
But the marketplace has changed dramatically. The NBA became willing to pay for potential, and there was no longer a reason to solicit Blake’s or anybody else’s opinion on the readiness factor.
Ben McLemore is leaving Kansas after his freshman season and Phil Pressey is gone from Missouri after his junior year because they trust the information they’ve received about their draft status.
McLemore is projected as a top-five overall selection, Pressey is perhaps a second-round pick.
Being ready for the NBA has nothing to do with it. That hasn’t been the case for years.
If the choice is to improve in college or on the job in the NBA, the incentive to stay in school has been reduced over the years.
Maybe a successful Ed O’Bannon lawsuit could have an impact on that business decision, especially for a marginal prospect. If an athlete shares in the wealth he helps create in the form of a trust fund to be paid upon leaving school, another factor has been added to the consideration.
An athlete can take the money at the first availability, even at reduced readiness, which is now the case. Or an option may become spending another year in college, likely improving your stock knowing there’s already a payoff when the college career ends.
*Even if it wasn’t in the language of his contract, Bruce Weber deserved the 1-year contract extension and new salary of $1.75 million, a raise of $250,000. A Big 12 championship and a 27-8 overall record surpassed expectations. Good call by K-State athletic director John Currie to announce the school’s support of Weber.