Having played in the National Basketball Association, better known as the NBA,
not only did it fulfill a lifetime dream of mine, but it also provided me with an opportunity to compete and socialize with entertainers around the world. Most people consider professional athletes to be entertainers; much like musicians and actors. You will often see a lot of interactions between these entertainers because they live similar schedules and lifestyles.
The NBA draft is an annual event in which the 30 franchises in the National Basketball Association select new players for their teams. The rule has produced one-and-done players that play college basketball for one year before declaring for the draft.
If some of these extremely talented high school players decide to forego the 1-year college experience, there is an opportunity for those hand full of elite talents to take their skills overseas. The National Basketball League of Australia, better known as the NBL, would be a perfect destination for this group of players. Unlike the European and Asian basketball leagues (which I played in both), English is the primary language in the land “Down Under”.
In the 2017 NBA draft, Terrance Ferguson was the 21st pick by the Oklahoma Thunder. Mr. Ferguson did not attend an American college prior to his selection. He honed his skills with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL. I’ll say it again, unlike the European & Asian basketball leagues; English is the primary language in Australia, making his transition much smoother. Competing against grown men as opposed to other college amateurs was also advantageous for Mr. Ferguson.
With the support of the NBL and its teams, I think it would be worthwhile to look into the top high school players in America, who are looking for an alternative to going to school for 1 year. I don’t recall any student athletes receiving their college degrees after 1 year. Some of these “1 and done” athletes could really use the financial gain of becoming a professional a year earlier than their counterparts that have to attend a classroom just to stay eligible to play for the 1 season.
I assure you that Mr. Ferguson wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last talented player to visit the best “Island in the world”. I recall a young Stephen Jackson wearing a Sydney Kings jersey before he became the 42nd pick of the NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns. He went on and had a 14-year career in the NBA, most notably with the San Antonio Spurs, retiring with career earnings over $68 million.
I was fortunate enough to attend Villanova University, so I truly understand the importance of a quality education which a lot of basketball powerhouses can offer. However, that pending degree you’ll receive, in a major you haven’t studied yet, will not be handed out, after attending school for 1 season.
Imagine these young NBA protégé’s playing throughout the NBL and the excitement they will bring, only to watch them pursue their dreams of making it to the NBA. It would be a huge experience for the player, preparing him as a professional and for the level of physical play that will only benefit his growing body. The NBL will also benefit by providing a competitive league in which these top players can nurture and develop their skills on the court. The name affiliation alone would also grow the popularity of Australia’s best basketball league, knowing that future NBA players are being developed and groomed in the NBL: whenever you put the NBA and NBL in the same sentence, it’s a win-win.
As part of the No1 Draft Pick team, I welcome the opportunity to help develop this pipeline, even if these standout basketball talents elect not to join the NBL; they can always become Villanova Wildcats!!