It’s that time of year again: College basketball players are deciding to leave school so they can go pro. Hoops stars including Kyrie Irving (a Duke freshman) and Derrick Williams (a sophomore at the University of Arizona) have made themselves eligible for the National Basketball Association (NBA) player draft.
It’s also the time when lots of folks say these players should stay in school to finish their education.
I think education is very important. But I think it is also important to remind everyone of something so obvious that lots of folks forget it: Irving and Williams and all the players who are leaving school and turning pro can still go to college. No one is saying they can’t continue their education. They just can’t play college basketball after they turn pro.
In fact, I’ve always wondered: Why doesn’t NBA superstar LeBron James go to college? James was the No. 1 draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers right after he left St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Ohio in 2003. So he never went to college.
I don’t mean to pick on LeBron James. I know he’s busy right now trying to lead the Miami Heat to the NBA championship. But couldn’t he take courses at the University of Miami after the playoffs are over?
You may say that James has plenty of money. After all, he makes millions of dollars playing pro basketball and endorsing products such as soft drinks and basketball shoes. But going to school and getting an education is about more than just making money. It’s about becoming a smarter and better person.
Perhaps James could take courses in math and economics so he could learn how to take better care of his money. Or maybe he could take courses to learn another language.
James has two children. Maybe he could take a course in children’s literature so he can pick out good books to read to his kids at bedtime. By going to school and studying, he would also set a good example for his children the next time they don’t want to do their homework.
Wouldn’t it be a great example for kids everywhere if LeBron James — or Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic or the Washington Wizards’ Andray Blatche or any of the pro athletes who never went to college — declared they wanted to go back to school? Not to play sports, but to go to class and learn new things.
Some pro athletes, including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, do attend classes in the off-season. But wouldn’t it be great if instead of always hearing about college players leaving school to become pros, we heard about more pros becoming students?
Fred Bowen is the author of 16 sports books for kids. His latest book is “Real Hoops.”