The path to a dream is rarely a straight line, sometimes there are twists, turns and hardships and other times you have to make a completely different path. So why is that when a kid tries to make his dream a reality and it doesn’t go as planned with that first path that we take it upon ourselves to judge their decision-making rather than letting it play out. We feel it necessary to inject our own narrative and fully write the story and fill in the blanks that we see fit: “He should have done this, he should have done that”. What in the hell makes you or I qualified to judge that? Based on what criteria are we basing those statements? I’m assuming on some cookie cutter set of standards that come from being a fan and not an aspiring athlete.
It almost feels as if some of you have never faced any hardships in your life and take that as some sort of charge that you should be judging the choices of others who’s position you’ve never been in. In terms of college basketball and the attempts to go pro this is rampant in the twittersphere. It’s not just the average fan who only sees things from the purview of a fan but it’s sports influencers and media types alike who incessantly peddle this nonsense. It’s very easy for them to write a kid off as having gotten bad advice or having made a bad decision without full knowledge of why that decision was made. Every situation is different and every person’s story is different.
This reminds me of my personal journey to becoming a professional at what I do. I began college but quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I made a decision based on my knowledge of self. Was it a tougher road? Perhaps. Was it rewarding for me – absolutely. Imagine if I had listened to those types of people that say things like – you can’t make it in life with no degree, you just ruined your life, you got bad advice. The fact of the matter is I bet on myself and I do just as well as the majority of my friends who attended college – minus the debt. Everything I know, I’m self taught and there is a value to that. I would never say my way is the best way, or that their way was the best way. Professional development doesn’t begin and end with college, it’s ok to devote 100% of your time to your own development just as it’s ok to devote your time to doing it at the college level. There’s no wrong or right answer – only the one that works for you. These are individual decisions that are made with the best intentions in mind and based on information you are not privy to hearing about.
You can look around todays NBA and see that there are plenty of guys that are undrafted making their way, playing high level basketball and doing their thing. And we know the NBA isn’t the only way to make a bag in pro basketball. There are G-League contracts to be had, there are a plethora of opportunities overseas as well and many others. THere’s a level of confidence that you have to have as a professional athlete, if you don’t have it then you may be in the wrong profession – the common denominator with all of these undrafted players who find their way to the NBA and other pro outlets is that they are not afraid of hard work and that work more often than not yields results. Do they have to work harder, want it more and give extra of themselves – most definitely but why is that such a frowned upon concept? Thankfully players like Wesley Matthews, TJ McConnell, Markus Howard, Kerndrick Nunn, Fred Van Vleet, Luguentz Dort or Hall of Famer Ben Wallace.
There are plenty of players who were drafted that never get to that second contract and plenty that flame out. The point is that no ones story is written at 20-21 years old. It’s just beginning. Stop second guessing decisions that you have no real insight into and have never been in a position to have to make. You don’t understand that life and probably never will.
To those players that go undrafted, thankfully the majority of you are smart and dedicated enough to know that dwelling on not being drafted is wasted energy. It’s time to get back in the lab and work towards the next opportunity. The future is still yours to mold, you may work yourself into the NBA, or you may end up being the head coach at the finest basketball institution in the country (Jon Scheyer).