Dear One And Done Basketball Recruits, Please Climb With Us
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or you don’t care the slightest bit about basketball which is likely presuming you’re a Penn State fan), you’ve probably heard the name Zion Williamson.
Aside from having the coolest name ever, Williamson is this year’s number two high school basketball recruit. How good is he? Well, for one, he’s drawn comparisons to Lebron James since he was 16 years old. And,let’s not forget that Drake posted a picture on Instagram of him wearing Williamson’s high school jersey.
Here’s a little montage of him punishing the rim. You can decide for yourself if the comparison holds (spoiler: It does.)
Now that you know he’s good, don’t get your hopes up. He’s not climbing with us. Last weekend the Spartanburg, South Carolina native announced his commitment to basketball powerhouse Duke University. Herein lies
the my problem.
Williamson is just the latest in a long line of one and done players. For players of his caliber, college is just a short pit stop between high school and the NBA. In fact, he’d be in the NBA next year if it weren’t for a rule change in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement which set a minimum age of 19 for draft eligibility. The point is he isn’t going to gain much from a year of college hoops. There won’t be much development. I mean, he’s a freak athlete — what else is there to develop?
That said, it doesn’t matter where he goes to school. He could go to some community college in the middle of Alaska where the head coach is an actual bear, and he would still dominate and go top 10 in the draft. That’s what makes his commitment to Duke so upsetting. Coach K had already landed the number one and three recruits in the class. Zion just finished out the top three recruiting class — something that hasn’t happened since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007. Thus, Zion’s commitment to Duke is like Kevin Durant joining the 73-9 Warriors. It’s bad for the sport.
It would be so much more fun to see guys like Zion Williamson turn basketball programs around at schools like, say, Penn State. Even if it is just for one year. A talented one and done player would pack the Bryce Jordan Center with the same loyal fans that come out 107K strong every Saturday in the fall. Besides, what would be more fun, playing for a very talented Duke team (boo) or single-handedly reviving Penn State’s basketball program (yay)?
Top prospects going to non-basketball schools isn’t unprecedented either. Ben Simmons went to LSU and Markelle Fultz made Washington Huskies basketball fun to watch before both started trusting the process in Philly. It provides a great opportunity for these kind of players to showcase their talent without much of a supporting cast. With the entire spotlight on them.
Consider this an open letter to all NBA ready recruits from a biased Penn State blogger. Dear super talented basketball players, come to Penn State. You’ll instantly cure Penn State basketball fans’ seasonal depression. You can take center stage. Prove you’re so good that you can turn a program around by yourself. Besides, Pat Chambers is somewhere on the spectrum between Coach K and an actual bear. So why not?