Thoughts of the Day: May 4, 2020

STRICKLIN FOCUSED ON FOOTBALL ON SEPTEMBER 5

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. In the case of Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin the hope is that the Gators will be kicking off the college football season as scheduled on September 5. Since there is no way to ensure the COVID-19 virus will be well on its way to eradication by that time, Stricklin is making alternative plans in case the September 5 goal is unattainable.


Speaking on the Sam Pittman Show (96.1 FM Talahassee), Stricklin said, “I hope we can do it [play football] in a way that it’s always looked, but really at the end of the day it’s not up to us to decide that. It’s up to the health experts and how the virus is in our community or our state at that time.”


The state begins a phased in re-opening of the economy starting today. If all goes well and the economy opens up more, things should get back to normal and that will allow students and athletes to return to campus. As much as Stricklin would like to see a return to normal, he knows there are no guarantees.


“I can tell you that we’re making plans as if it’s going to happen, and if we have to adjust an alter those plans we’ll figure out a way to do so,” he said.


WHOEVER ADVISES NEMBHARD AND MANN: DO THE MATH

Andrew Nembhard and Tre Mann are among the 163 underclassmen who have entered their names in the NBA Draft. Neither one of them shows up on any reputable mock or pre-draft evaluation. The two Gators whose names figured far more prominently – Scottie Lewis and Keyontae Johnson – both declared their intentions to return to the University of Florida well before the deadline on April 26.


If Nembhard and Mann get wise counsel, they will return for another year of college basketball. The key is being surrounded by smart people who do the math and advise accordingly. This is what the math tells us. There are two rounds in the NBA Draft, 60 selections in all. Those 60 selections will be filled by seniors who have exhausted their college eligibility, some 50 or 60 internationals who have submitted their names and of course, those among the 163 underclassmen who will be lucky enough to hear their names called.



Some of the underclassmen who aren’t drafted will land in the G League, where salaries are in the $50,000 range. There are no guarantees that the undrafted underclassmen will have a job there, however. A few, mostly second rounders, will get two-way contracts which pay substantially more and allow the NBA team to bring them up during the season for which they will be paid on a per-game basis the rookie minimum.


Meanwhile, the G League is out there trying to cherry pick top high school kids to come spend a year in the minors, learning the ropes and getting ready for the NBA. The G League is paying Jalen Green something like $500,000 to skip college and play for an elite developmental league team. Isaiah Todd also is skipping. His deal is for something around $250,000 if he hits all his bonuses.


That is a lot of money if you compare it with Pell Grant money and cost of attendance checks that go with room, board and tuition you get with a college basketball scholarship but will it last a lifetime if Todd, for example, doesn’t play for a coach in the G League that can bring out the best in his talents? The assurance of a college basketball scholarship is you have time to develop. In the G League it will be a Rawhide mentality: “Head’em up and move’m out.” In other words, if a kid like Todd gets $250,000 but doesn’t respond to coaching or is overwhelmed by the competition, he will be on a short leash. A bad or mediocre first year isn’t going to necessarily guarantee there will be a year two much less a contract of anything near the same size.


On his weekly show, Kentucky coach John Calipari spoke out about the G League going after high school kids.


“My issue with the G League trying to entice players by giving them more money is not the kids that you’re getting,” Calipari said. “It’s the thousands of ninth and tenth graders that think that’s how you’re going to make it when you and I know it’s going to be like 2%. We’re not talking 50. It will be thousands and thousands and thousands.”


Calipari has a track record of taking a high school kid and in one year preparing him for a huge NBA contract. If we’re talking coaches in the G League, they aren’t there because they have any kind of track record preparing kids to be first round draft picks. If they had that kind of record they would already be coaching in the NBA and not beating the minor league bushes.


“I want to see in the next four or five years the kids that chose to go to college, how they did,” Calipari said. “The money you’re going to get [from the G League] is negligible compared to what you will get if you are really good and get to your second [NBA] contract.”


A guest on Calipari’s show was NBA legend and hall of famer Charles Barkley. While he knows first round money or years in the NBA can set someone up for life financially, he also knows how few actually make it.

Barkley said, “We spend all our time talking about the small little percentage of guys who want to go to the NBA. I only concern myself with all the other guys, all the other young black men who go to college. I’m worried about the 99%. We’ve got to make sure these young black kids get their education because that’s going to dictate their future.”


What all this tells us is it’s high time either the NCAA does something constructive when it comes to finding a way to partner with the NBA because the current one-and-done rules aren’t working well at all nor are rules that don’t allow a kid to return to school if undrafted. If the NCAA doesn’t have the fortitude to change the rules, then it’s time for a good portion of Division I schools to break away and set up an organization with common sense rules.


Something similar to the baseball draft rules would seem to work well for college basketball. In baseball, a kid can be drafted straight out of high school but isn’t required to sign. Once the kid goes to college, he either has to stay three years or until he’s 21, whichever comes first.

Getting drafted straight out of high school worked well for some of basketball’s best players of the past 25 years but Barkley notes that for every success story there were many more failures.


‘People look at Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron (James),” Barkley noted. “They don’t look at the rest [of the high school guys] who sucked who came to the NBA. They’re not physically, emotionally or mentally ready to play in the NBA. I think they should have gone to college for two years.”


SOME SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF Alabama: Forward Galin Smith, who has played in 94 games in his Alabama career, has placed his name in the NCAA transfer portal. He averaged 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last year.

Arkansas: SEC co-player of the year Mason Jones has signed with an agent so he is sticking in the NBA Draft. Isaiah Joe remains in the draft but he hasn’t signed with an agent so he could still return to school.

Auburn: Regarding the possibility that former Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham will be the replacement for Tom Brady with the New England Patriots, AU coach Gus Malzahn says, “The moment won’t be too big for him.”

Georgia: Forward Rayshaun Hammonds will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft. Unless something changes drastically between now and the time the NBA drafts, Hammonds will go undrafted although there is a chance he could make it into the late second round.

Kentucky: Two Kentucky defenders entered their name in the transfer portal over the weekend. Freshman defensive tackle Cavon Butler and third-year sophomore defensive end Davoan Hawkins are entertaining offers to see if the grass really is greener somewhere else.

LSU: Every single draft-eligible player was either selected by an NFL team or signed a free agent contract. LSU became the first team in draft history to have a quarterback, running back and wide receiver drafted in the first round.

Mississippi State: Former quarterback Keytaon Thompson will be a grad transfer to Virginia where he will have two years of eligibility remaining. Former O-lineman Brevyn Jones will be transferring to Illinois.

Missouri: Missouri has agreed to a four-game football series with former Big 12 Conference rival Kansas. The two teams will play home and home in 2025-26 and again in 2031-32.

Ole Miss: Athletic director Keith Carter believes students will be back on campus in July. His hope is that football will be played on Labor Day Weekend but says other options are being discussed in weekly teleconferences with the rest of the SEC.

South Carolina: Former South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards, picked by the Las Vegas Raiders in the third round round of the NFL Draft, tweeted out, “Say what you want Coach WMuschamp will never tell you a lie.”

Tennessee: After a rather strong recruiting week, the Vols have moved up to #3 nationally in the team rankings by 247Sports. They have the top-ranked 2021 recruiting class in the SEC.

Texas A&M: Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp plans to open all 11 university campuses in the fall and is planning for a college football season.

Vanderbilt: Since the Ivy League doesn’t athletes to play four seasons over five years, Columbia kicker Oren Milstein is now a grad transfer to Vandy. He has three game-winning kicks in his career and holds six Columbia kicking records.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: The Jacksonville Jaguars have declined the fifth-year option on the contract of running back Leonard Fournette. It’s likely the Jags will trade Fournette so they can get something in return rather than let him become a free agent after the 2020 season … Andy Dalton signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys to back up Dak Prescott … The Detroit Lions have declined the fifth-year option for former Gator middle linebacker Jarrad Davis. Davis, who is the Lions team captain, will be a free agent after the 2020 season.

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