The Draft Vs. A College Education


UNITED STATES—It is a discussion so many student athletes have time and time again while in college.  When it comes to professional sports what is the likelihood of being drafted if I leave school?  It’s not a decision that can be made on a whim; it takes time to process both the pros and the cons.

This discussion is at the forefront this week as the Michigan Wolverines found themselves playing for the NCAA Championship Game against the Louisville Cardinals.  One of the star athletes for the Wolverines is sophomore Trey Burke.  The guy is beast on the court.  To see him play a pivotal role in helping his team defeat one of the best basketball teams in the country the Kansas Jayhawks, he proved he is a force to be reckoned with.

Burke faced a difficult dilemma after his freshman year atMichigan; should he stay in school or go into the NBA draft?  He eventually decided to stay at the university and continue his education and continue playing for the school.  It’s a decision that has paid off.  I would say Burke has grown tremendously as an athlete in the past year.  Yes,Michigan’s season ended quite early during March madness in 2012, but this year they reached the finale; the first time in nearly 20 years!

So Burke, as well as a few of his teammates will be making difficult choices in the coming weeks, should they continue their education or take their chances at the NBA draft?  I had a major discussion with someone about this in the previous two weeks.  Burke has taken home countless awards this season the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball All-American, Big Ten Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and he has also taken home the National Player of the Year award. He is at his prime right now; his stock really cannot get much bigger than what it is.

Some would say he should stay in school, but in my opinion it’s a wise decision for him to enter the draft because he would be in high demand right now.  If he were to stay in school and play withMichigannext year, what if the team is not as good as it is this year?  Does that hurt Burke’s chances?  Likely.  My argument is that he can always go back to school, but when it comes to the draft, time is of the essence.  He could get injured, that’s always a possibility with any sport.  He could get injured while playing on the collegiate level and that really hurts his chances. Having a college degree nowadays is a staple, when it becomes news that McDonald’s wants its cashiers to have a bachelor’s degree that tells you something. Some of his teammates, Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson will be making a similar decision.

This is not a piece advocating athletes to choose a professional career over their education, we all know an education is the best thing you can obtain. The key issue is that you can always go back to school to complete your undergraduate studies.  People do it all the time.  I would like to see the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL perhaps implement some sort of restriction on athletes from having to make such a difficult decision at an early point in their lives.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make it possible for all athletes to at least be in their senior year in college before they are able to enter the draft.

It’s worth noting many athletes grow tremendously during their collegiate years, so leaving early can hurt them.  The NBA is nothing like the collegiate level of basketball which some players fail to realize; it’s a business and anyone is expendable. You get injured, your time continually loses: you’re at risk of being traded from one team to the next; you could even it up wondering what your next move may be. To enter the draft without your degree can be risky, but to not enter the draft when you’re at your prime can be risky as well. It’s a double-edge sword; there are pros and cons to both, overall the athlete himself has to make the choice.

Think carefully about what it is you WANT, and what you believe is the best choice for you at the current stage in your life. Once you make the decision to enter the draft it’s a whole new ballgame!

By Trevor Roberts