Point Guard Prospect To Play Across The Pond?

Incoming Arizona freshman Brandon Jennings is expected in summer school next week to shore up his status before hitting the court as Lute Olson’s choice to replace the one-and-done Jerryd Bayless, who’s expected to be a lottery pick. Thing is, Jennings hasn’t quite cleared the standardized test bar with the SAT.

Brandon Jennings

So, if he doesn’t hurdle it on his third try taking the exam, ESPN’s Andy Katz reports the likely one-and-done star will try heading overseas to earn a few Euros for a year before declaring for the 2009 NBA Draft.

Jennings said the professional players he has played with both in the New York-New Jersey area and back in Southern California told him he could compete with players overseas.

“Mentally I know I can play in the NBA, but physically is where it would hit me,” Jennings said.

Jennings and his mother said that Jennings probably would have declared for the NBA draft had the new rule not been put in place two seasons ago (requiring a player to be one year out of school and at least 19 in the calendar year of the draft).

His mom has hired an attorney to help keep his options open, should he be declared ineligible next Thursday. Given the clout of heavyweight programs in revenue-generating college sports (and the Arizona men’s hoops program is definitely one of them), Jennings will probably skate on in; however, if he doesn’t, I’m hoping he actually does head overseas.

If he does it and still winds up a lottery pick next year, it will be the perfect alternative to NBA commish David Stern’s ridiculous age entry minimum. We know college basketball at the D-I level is the best exposure to NBA scouts for young players, but there desperately needs to be a different, viable path (and the D-League is NOT a viable path right now, particularly considering the low salaries players are paid in that league.)

Now, it’s not highly likely right now because the best Euro hoops teams have youth academies and tend to prefer to sign players to long-term deals; a one-year deal for an American prospect may not sit well with a lot of teams. However, there will likely be some team willing to cough up a reasonable sum to make this happen.

The NCAA shouldn’t have an implicit monopoly on young hoops talent. College just doesn’t appeal to everyone, and there ought to be better ways for prospects to develop without the pretense of being a student-athlete.