NBA draft highlights college rent-a-freshman dilemma

As if anyone needed to be reminded of the popularity chasm that exists between the NFL and every other competitive enterprise in the universe save the World Cup, the occasional presidential election and American Idol, we need only to look at how each league's draft is treated by the media and received by the public.

The NFL draft arrives with the pomp and circumstance of the Roman legions returning from Gaul.  The NBA draft needs the constant drumbeat of its feverish media acolytes to even momentarily distract the general sports public from its mid-season review of baseball fantasy teams. 

The first three picks of the NBA draft yesterday were Derrick Rose (Chicago), Michael Beasley (Miami) and O.J. Mayo (by Minnesota and traded to Memphis).  The real news there is the historical footnote that for the first first time all three were freshmen.  And that highlights the problem for college basketball programs who now find themselves having to buy in to the cynical practice of rent-a-freshman when they recruit. 

You wonder if university basketball recruiters even bother to mention that they actually confer degrees at their institutions of higher learning when they try to lure some hotshot high school senior who has as much chance of finishing college as Steve Trachsel had of pitching a complete game or I would have finishing the Boston Marathon.  Mount Airy's Joe Alexander, a junior from West Virginia, was the first "veteran" college player to be taken at No. 8 (Milwaukee).  The seven taken before him were mostly freshmen plus one sophomore and a teenager from Italy.

Yes, plenty of college juniors are drafted into the NFL but at least they spend enough time on campus to know how to get to the library without asking directions. OK, maybe the cafeteria.





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