As an avid College Basketball fan, last night was a special night as the University of Kentucky; led by an unprecedented nine McDonald’s All-Americans took the court against Kansas. As expected, Kentucky’s kids absolutely destroyed Kansas in an unimaginable manner, it was not even a contest. These young men had obviously dedicated their entire lives to honing their God given athletic talent. However, it was their excellence that led me to thinking about several things: (a) how many young Black males focus upon sports with a single-minded determination, (b) how the ultimate dream of so many of our youth involves professional athletics, to the detriment of academics I might add, and (c) what are the odds of these dreams actually coming to fruition.
- Only 2.9% of High School basketball players will make it onto an NCAA men’s basketball roster; that is less than 1 in 35.
- Only 0.65% of NCAA men’s basketball players will be drafted and receive a guaranteed rookie contract by an NBA franchise: that is less than 1 in 150.
- Only 0.015% of High School players will eventually be drafted and receive a guaranteed rookie contract by an NBA franchise: that is less than 1 in 6,666.
Making matters much bleak is the reality that the average NBA career is only 4.8 years; a number that is definitely skewed by the presence of superstars such as Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant who have had unprecedentedly long careers that very few of their peers achieve.
So in actuality the average career is approximately 3 years, the length of a rookie contract. Considering that the NBA age limit is 19 years old, the vast majority of these athletic studs will see their NBA career end at the robust age of 22.
It is this reality, not the glitz and glamour that should inform how our community directs our young men. As the numbers indicate, for every LeBron James there is a Lenny Cooke, for every Kobe Bryant there is an Esteban Weaver or DeAngelo Collins, and the list goes on and on. We must diversify the aspirations of our youth and repeatedly remind them that at a moment’s notice, their athletic career could be eradicated due to injury or the arrival of the next great player who takes their roster spot. To allow them to focus solely upon athletics as a means of earning a living is not only criminal, but also professional suicide. Just ask Lenny Cooke, DeAngelo Collins, or Esteban Weaver regarding this matter.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III