I feel bad for Jeff Miller. The Orange County Register columnist can’t get into college hoops. The player turnover — the best ones usually end up in the NBA after one or two seasons, he writes — robs the game of its stars and makes it tough to root or even follow a team. The game lacks an identity, he writes.
The best players aren’t around long enough to grab and then hold onto our ever-divided attention. There’s no point in investing yourself in John Wall knowing he’s going to be John AWOL as soon as possible. … For every Kyle Singler at Duke and Kalin Lucas at Michigan State, there are dozens of wildly talented players in college right now who will be gone before we figured out what school they were even at.
He’s not entirely wrong. Some of the game’s best players do leave school early. John Wall played just one season. Blake Griffin two. Carmelo Anthony one. Magic Johnson two. When those guys left, the game suffered.
Yes, that’s sarcasm.
It’d be great if every player stayed four years. It doesn’t happen — guys like Duke’s Kyle Singler and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette are exceptions — but it clearly hasn’t hurt the game. Ratings for the 2010 NCAA tournament were the highest in a decade. Obviously some people are able to follow these face-less teams.
See, here’s the thing: Players have never been around the college game long. A maximum of four years? That’s nothing compared to NBA careers, which stretch anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and with far, far more games. That’s the reason NBA players are a better known commodity than college guys. They’re around forever. Sometimes you wish they’d go away and stop taking up space for the younger guys who just got out of school. (Not to mention the nomadic nature of most NBA players. Seems like every team brought in five new players this season. How’s that for continuity?)
If the player turnover makes college basketball too tough to follow, then don’t do it. If you’re too lazy to learn a few names from November to March, it’s no biggie. You can still fill out a bracket when you recognize the schools involved or get the 12-year-old down the street to help you out.