Durant And Oden Should Go Pro

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 22, 2007

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Greg Oden

Greg Oden

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Kevin Durant’s collegiate career is over for the season and maybe forever. The question facing Durant is whether he is going to spend one more year in college or move on to the professional rank, where he can receive millions for his skills.

Every year, there is the question often asked of young basketball players, should they be in college and playing for good ole State U or just skip the college experience and go pro?

As a college graduate, I would love to see these players get their degree and play for four years but there is another reality.

A few years back, my daughter and I covered Andy Roddick for one year and wrote a book about the experience. For those who may not familiar with Roddick’s background, here are some.

His parents were upper middle class and his two brothers were also both excellent athletes in their own right. His oldest brother was a leading diver and the second Roddick’s brother an excellent tennis player in his own right before back injuries curtail his career.

Roddick was the youngest and possibly the best athlete of the bunch.

His mother told us, “John McEnroe advised us that as parents, we had an obligation to develop the special skills in our kids.” The Roddicks’ sacrificed to develop their sons’ talents and Roddick, unlike his brother, did not go off to college but hit the tennis court as a teenager.

Today, he is one of top three or four tennis player in the world. No one ever question if a tennis player would benefit if they get a college education and ,dare I say it, most tennis players come from upper middle class or simply the upper class of American economic strata.

These players have the opportunity to go to college but instead, pursue their own dreams on the tennis Court.

The reality is both Durant and Ohio State’s Greg Oden have special skills that very few of us have, for they can play basketball better than even many professional can.

So the real question is whether one more year in college will add to those skills or if going professionals will enhance the skills they presently have.

Some like columnist Jason Whitlock feel that Durant might benefit from one more year in college and learn to share the ball more as a play maker before making the big jump.

Others believe that the time is right for both players. I fall in the latter category. If nothing else, we now know that a young basketball player doesn’t need to spend four years in the finishing school known as college.

For some young players, college is the right place but for others, turning pro is the better option. In both the NHL and Major League Baseball, young athletes turn pro and learn their skills at lower level of competition while getting paid in the process.

No one ever states that it is a tragedy that these athletes are denied a college education. We don’t moan the fact that some upper middle class athlete becomes a tennis pro as a teenager but we seems whether squeamish if a young basketball player deny ole state U the benefit of their skills.