Okay, I'm going to come clean: I'm writing this in the hopes it leads to something. Something else, something better...something.
Sure, writing is a love and a cathartic process for me where I can unload some of my weightier thoughts, but there's always an ulterior motive of sorts. It goes for just about anything I do, really. My radio show, my day job, I always have this conscious or subconscious goal of some good work leading to a "big break," similar to acting or music.
It's why I've always sided with the college underclassmen that leave college early to play sports professionally. I mean, think about it, playing hoops starts because it's just something fun to do -- in the driveway or on Saturdays in the elementary school gym. But before long, basketball can be about impressing girls or become a stamp verifying someone's popularity. AAU? That's mostly about getting noticed by college coaches, be they Division One or otherwise.
There's always something out there if you bust your ass while kicking everyone's ass. Maybe the right person sees this post and before you know it, I'm the next Sean Keeley. Maybe that kid dominating teams all season is guarding NBA All Stars next season if he impresses the right scout or a general manager?
And it appears Syracuse's Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis may be on the verge of a massive leap like that after what the two did this season. Both have been projected first round draft picks all season, at times both lottery locks. They've put in the time, the effort and have the talent to possibly go onto the next thing -- which just so happens to be the NB--freakin'-A.
But everyone seems to be arguing about their NBA worth. Everyone has an opinion on whether the two should in fact go pro. And further, everyone seems to have an opinion about those people with opinions on Ennis and Grant, which is fairly laughable.
Jim Boeheim says the two are probably not ready for the NBA and the national media descends on Syracuse for a minute to rip the Hall of Fame coach who has sent six underclassman onto that "something bigger" since 2009. "Jim Boeheim is a jerk and now he has proven himself to be selfish!" Funny, though, a quick Google search tells us Boeheim proves he's rarely "self-serving" when it comes to his players leaving early.
Wait, you want to know my favorite group of people that open their collective yaps when it comes to Ennis and Grant (and Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins for that matter)? The people that absolutely never watch the NBA but tell us all that Ennis and Grant aren't ready for the NBA. Are you kidding me? You know what it takes to play in the NBA based off of what? You don't even watch a game! Sure, they have obvious flaws that need to be worked on, but do you think that's not the case with half of the NBA? Remember this, if one or both of these Orange men go pro, they'll have infinitely more time to actually work on BASKETBALL than they had this past season.
Yet, those fake NBA experts could still be right about Ennis and Grant. Honestly, I really don't know and I'm not about to pretend. Hell, I thought Michael Carter-Williams would be kind of exposed at the next level. Okay, Carter-Williams is at the wheel of the 76ers Titanic of a season, but he's proven himself a worthy professional. Conversely, while I had my doubts about Johnny Flynn, I thought he was athletic enough to get by in the NBA. I was dead wrong. I remember being devastated by Billy Owens leaving early, but at the same time I thought he would take over the Association. Whoops!
The one thing I'm fairly certain on is I'm glad I didn't have to make that decision in college. Good Lord, it took me five years to get my four-year degree -- and it took four schools to do it (once again, sorry, mom and dad)! It's a massive gamble that could go either way based on so many variables. Not to mention the typical "hate" to deal with if one decides to leave. Remember Greene's leaving Syracuse after his freshman year? He practically needed Witness Protection with the way some Syracuse fans attacked him online. But did you know, not counting overseas or even partial NBA contracts the past couple of seasons, Greene's made over $5 million? And if he didn't break his foot a couple of seasons ago he would have collected even more NBA bucks. How much have you earned since graduating college?
So where does this all lead for Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant? I guess, ultimately, if they're advised to move on, well, hell, that's an amazing accomplishment in itself. Next they'll get the chance to attend personalized workouts with teams and they'll attend the "pre-draft" camp in Chicago to show themselves. The two could push their way into the lottery, or they may end up going in the latter half of the first round (worst-case scenario right now), which didn't seem to hurt Greene too much.
Really, if they're willing to work at the craft like they have already showed, then there is probably not a bad decision here. Coming back is advantageous because the 2015 draft won't be as as deep as 2014 and they'll be able to build upon their resume. Leave and they avoid the whole what-could-have-been scenario. Imagine if one of them got hurt? Or even damaged their draft stock like Marcus Smart?
Right now they are getting an opportunity, which is what we all want in some form or another.
Seriously, whether or not you realized it, Ennis and Grant have proven themselves to someone or someones that matter. And don't pretend that wasn't the plan, conscious or otherwise, for much of their young lives. If they decide to leave college, and theoretically all of us, behind, we probably should just be glad we had such a vested interest in their play in the first place. Because, ultimately, through a lot more work than any of you get to see, these two have earned the chance at something bigger, at something better...at something.
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- Syracuse Daily Links - A Season Already In Review