When Carmelo Anthony was a freshman at Syracuse, and captivated the nation by single-handedly bringing the 2003 NCAA National Championship to upstate New York, there were no blogs, Billy Edelin was a budding star, and my thoughts on the state of college basketball took a back seat to my careful planning of clandestine meetings replete with hard alcohol to be shared among my high school friends.
But now I am older, blog on an aging laptop, get drunk with my parents, and am realizing that John Wall is severely exposing a sad truth: the overall talent on display in college basketball is unimpressive.
Tonight Wall put up 25 points along with six steals in a fantastic win over UCONN, all part of an electrifying atmosphere at MSG. The problem here is Wall has come in to poop on his peers for one season, all with the intent of peacing to the pros come springtime, forgetting that college basketball even exists. It stinks, but has just become part of the deal for us fans.
Do you remember that incredible class of 2007? Freshman Michael Beasley and Kevin Love were first-team All-Americans, Derrick Rose dominated the second and third weekends of the tournament, and Eric Gordon led the Big 10 in scoring. Just one year before that, Kevin Durant casually averaged 29 points-per-game during conference play and logged 20 games of 30 points or more. Meanwhile, Greg Oden showed up in Columbus for just two-thirds of the season and led the Buckeyes to the title game against Florida. Each one of these players, as you know, came to college for one season with no interest in returning for a second taste. And the whole gig was far too easy for them.
We're relying on 17- and 18-year-old players to generate the majority of excitement and hype for this great sport. You know there was another explosive point guard on the floor tonight? His name was Kemba Walker, a sophomore. Nobody seemed to care. After being ignored by his teammates for the first 25 minutes of the game, Patrick Patterson showed he's one of the country's best big men. But he's a junior, which is so "out" this season. Why aren't we looking to market the players we know are in this relationship for the long run?
If the NCAA bigwigs are watching, I hope they recognize their brand of basketball is in trouble. They need to get on the phone with The League and have a say in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Somehow, someway, we need to ensure that blue chip freshman committing to play college basketball stick around for two seasons. That's all I ask. If they can't summon themselves to do that, then effyou! Go play in Europe, wait to turn 20 and get drafted by the Sacramento Kings, a dismal franchise never seen on national television.
We need help, because Blue Jesus and his disciples will continue to betray fans of the college game.