Kobe Bryant is being very vocal about the lack of talent coming from college basketball play.
Kobe went straight to the NBA directly from high school and has had an extremely impressive career, both financially and on the court. But it’s possible that he was only a low-rotation backup as a rookie, or something similar because only the most twisted definition of Kobe’s career would indicate his bypassing of college wasn’t a success.
“I don’t really look at it from that perspective of what was good for the game of basketball,” Kobe said when asked about his impact on the NBA as a prep-to-pro player.
“I think the reality is there’s been a lot of players who’ve come out of high school. If you do the numbers and you look at the count, you’ll probably see players who came out of high school that were much more successful on average than players who went to college for a year or two or however long. It seems like the system really isn’t teaching players anything, if you go to college. If you go to college, you play, you showcase, and you come to the pros. Well, that’s always been the big argument, as a player you have to go to college, you have to develop your skills and so forth and so on, and then you come to the league. So, we kind of got sold on that dream a little bit. Fortunately, I didn’t really listen much to it. Neither did KG. Neither did LeBron. I think that worked out pretty well for all three of us.”
“I’m always a firm believer in us being able to make our own decisions, especially as it pertains to going out and working and having a job. You should be able to go out there and make your own choices.”
Kobe may be on to something. Drafted high school players have been much more successful than their college-going peers.
But, that shouldn’t matter. Kobe nailed this when he said he didn’t view the decision through the lens of what’s best for basketball on the whole. “You should be able to go out there and make your own choices.”
Unfortunately, high school players can’t make the choice to jump to the NBA anymore, thanks to the one-and-done rule.
Instead, they’re left playing in college for mostly less-than-market compensation. NBA owners, college coaches and administrators, and marginal NBA players make more money because of it.
However, going to college is the ideal route for the majority of top high school prospects. The D-League may change that someday, but there aren’t enough viable paying basketball jobs to accommodate all of them. Despite whatever motives they have, many major-team college basketball coaches do a good job developing their players.
For many players, college basketball is the best choice and right now, these players don’t have the choice to go a different way.
For more on this story, please visit: Dan Feldman, Pro Basketball Talk