Beasley announced his entry into the NBA draft today, after spending one year in the NCAA. I’ll freely admit that I’m biased towards the college game when it comes to basketball, so obviously I’d prefer that he didn’t make this choice. We only want four years from these guys, then they can go into the ocean of professional oblivion, but the best of them can never wait.
The truth is, no one can really blame Beasley for leaving, and Greg Oden is the perfect explanation as to why. Oden went number one in the draft last year, after his freshman season. Soon after, he had microfracture surgery on his knee, and sat out his entire rookie year. If Oden hadn’t decided to make the jump into the NBA when he did, he’d be red-shirting right now, and preparing for a sophomore season in which he would be expected to completely re-prove himself to the NBA scouts.
If your primary reason for going to college is to play in the pros, then you may as well make the jump whenever the timing is ripe. If you don’t, your chance (and the money) might not be there later. For Beasley, the opportunity is obviously now. It’s hard to imagine him not going number one, and it’s almost impossible that he’d drop out of the top three.
The only collegiate athlete I can think of who didn’t follow this principle is Matt Leinart. There is almost no doubt that had Leinart entered the NFL draft in 2005, he would’ve gone number one ahead of QB Alex Smith. He stayed in college another year, played in one of the most memorable Rose Bowls ever, and fell to the tenth pick in 2006. For the record, his contract still ended up being bigger than Smith’s.
But don’t cry for Matt, you Beasleys of the world. Judging by some pictures I saw of a party he threw at his house, that guy is doing just fine.