He could’ve just stayed at home
Four Duke freshmen – that’s first-year college students – are headed to the NBA; three ex-Blue Devils taken in last week’s draft, Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter in Round-One, plus Gary Trent in the second-round. Trevor Duval wasn’t drafted but will probably sign one of those two-way deals that allow a player to yo-yo back and forth from the development league to the NBA. It’s not a great life, but at least you’re a pro: paid to play basketball.
Wait a minute! Weren’t these guys basically a high school all-star team last year this time!?! Now they’re about to get paid – and I mean, well paid, to shoot hoops!?!
I bring this up because the parents of the guys I mentioned are suddenly in the news lately for ripping apart Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the “Duke system”. Granted, I’m no screaming Coach-K fan, but he was able to land this super-hoop group to one of the most prestigious institutions in America and almost parlay them into an NCAA champion. So why now are these Ma’s and Pa’s suddenly crowing about their precious babies getting a raw deal in Durham. Have they been taking LaVar Ball lessons, or what!?!
These guys were the pinnacle of the college game for a mere 10 months, and now their parents want to scream foul!
Welcome to the new reality of college basketball, folks. The old ‘posse’ for these wunderkinds used to be ‘the fellas’; now, it’s Mom & Dad – and they are demanding a voice. LaVar Ball didn’t just fall off some turnip truck of sports parenting. He’d been prepping for this for a long time.
Your folks don’t just show up for the Saturday matinee game where you might see them in a quick shot over the kid’s shoulder on TV; they’re now their own show. When these ready-made AAU teams land on campuses like Duke, the ego war isn’t just on the bench, it’s that person you see behind the bench.
Carter’s mother last spring compared college basketball to slavery.
“They treat you like a piece of property,” she told a national magazine of her son’s experience at Duke. “Period. Point blank. They take things away from you, they talk bad to you, they’re disrespectful to you. In college, you have no voice.”
I kind of agree with her in blaming the universities for being interested more in a recruit’s talent than their education, though I think it’s a two-way street: the athletes have a responsibility to the whole collegiate experience, not just the athletic department.
Take a close look at what happened to Mrs. Carter’s baby-boy while wearing Royal Blue:
He was given a scholarship to play basketball for one of the great college basketball coaches of our time, to fly around the country in chartered jets, eat like a king, sleep in the finest hotels and audition for a pro career on national television in front of packed coliseums and millions of viewers across the fruited plain.
He also had a chance to learn from some of the best college professors in the world, and access to tutors helping him with homework, and the often-overwhelming experience of being away from home for the first time as a college freshman.
That’s not slavery, lady. Maybe Kanye West wouldn’t agree.
It’s a privilege to walk the hallowed halls where many top scholars have trod for generations. It’s a privilege to use that university as a personal gateway to the riches that go with the life of a professional athlete. According to the school’s financial sources, one year at Duke costs almost $75,000.
This idea that Carter was somehow forced to work for Duke for nothing is ridiculous. He got a chance to attend college for just one year and left without owing a dime to anybody while medical students, law students, graduate students, and brilliant underclassmen walk those lawns for years and years, piling up unbelievable debt and unimaginable stress just for the opportunity to get a Duke University education, and you call it ‘slavery’!?!
Well, I don’t.
Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at email@example.com or 252-332-7211.