Feedback on "NBA and player development".

I get feedback. With regard to the NBA doing a better job of player development than the NCAA, here is one: "The real question is: Why should an institution of higher learning even be involved in ‘developing' basketball players? Is acquiring basketball skills inherently part of higher education? Let’s end all athletic scholarships and restore integrity to our universities.”

Of course, I put in a disclaimer saying many would feel this is not the ‘mission’ of college sports. But, you know, he has a point: doing away with athletic scholarships would end a lot of problems. Of course, people would then ‘cheat’ on that and give money under the table. So, it’s a complex situation. Add in that folks would say you are depriving poor kids from getting a college education and you have a hornet’s nest.

No, I don’t think it’s the job of colleges to develop players for the NBA. I took the word ‘develop’ from the article I sent. It was never the mission of colleges to do that. But, you know what? In the past they did, indeed, develop players for the NBA. Yes, they had players for four seasons, like Lew Alcindor (today Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) at UCLA.

That’s back when college coaches could do a thorough job of … educating. That is, teaching the fundamentals. I’m sure John Wooden, at UCLA, didn’t think he was developing Alcindor for the NBA. Alcindor was an NBA-level player before he went to UCLA. He just wanted to do the best job of teaching and developing he could as the Basketball Coach of UCLA.

I just think any college teacher should do the best job he or she can in teaching his or her subject. If that’s having Albert Einstein teaching physics at Princeton, I’m all for that. But Princeton also had Pete Carril as its basketball coach and he was voted not only into the Hall of Fame but as the best teacher on the Princeton campus. Hats off to Pete!

My Northwestern University is right up there with the Ivy League and we’ve had two Hall of Fame coaches: A. C. Lonborg and Harold Olsen. Other powerful academic institutions have had Hall of Fame basketball coaches: California had Pete Newell; Stanford had Everett Dean; Wisconsin had Walter Meanwell; Purdue had Ward Lambert; Notre Dame had George Keogan; Yale had Howard Hobson; Dartmouth had Doggie Julian; Navy had Ben Carnevale; Pennsylvania had Chuck Daly; USC had Sam Barry. It’s a long list.

Finally, I don’t like the idea of dumping this in the NCAA’s lap. They are playing the hand that has been dealt to them. One and done. AAU leagues. ‘Traveling’ teams, which have undercut the role of the high school coach. Bottom line: US kids are no longer getting the teaching and coaching they used to get. The ‘mission’ should be teaching and improvement, whether they go on to the pros or not.


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