Is the NBA too young?
Hell has frozen over.
Not really, but that’s what some NBA personnel seem to think about a high school player going as the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft.
Others think it was just a matter of time.
Current and former NBA stars offered their opinions on the subject last week at the American Century Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Hall of fame guard George Gervin thinks the recent influx of young players isn’t all that new.
“Really the floodgates are open,” the ‘Iceman’ said. “You can really go way back to Reggie Harden when I was a kid, he came into pro ball as a high school player.”
Gervin knows what he is talking about as he turned pro himself at age 19, after only a year-and-half at Eastern Michigan University.
“Why deprive a kid of an opportunity like this to make millions and take care of his family,” he said. “Hopefully set a future for his self so he don’t have to work no more.”
Another player who turned pro before graduating college was New Jersey Nets’ guard Jason Kidd.
Kidd left California Berkeley after two years and doesn’t want to see the players get any younger than high school seniors.
“I just hope they don’t start going after elementary kids,” the Bay Area prep product said. “There are reports in Florida of that seven-foot seventh-grader, that’s unfortunate that there’s going to be a lot heat on him.
“But I would push kids to go to school.”
Kidd’s former backcourt mate in Phoenix, Vinny Del Negro, sees a lot of potential problems with taking a prep star in the first round.
“You never know how a kid’s going to act or develop as he gets into the league,” Del Negro said. “But his personality, his heart, his desire can all be kind of measured a little bit.
“You really have to do a lot of background checks on kids and it’s become extremely extensive what teams have to do to prepare for the draft.”
Former NBA All Star forward Charles Barkley probably knows the most about the six prep hoopsters who entered this year’s draft.
Throughout the NBA season and the draft, Barkley worked for TBS and TNT as a color analyst and feels none of them were ready to make the jump to the pros.
“None of them is going to make an impact,” said the member of the NBA’s 50 greatest players. “They’re not good enough.
“It’s a tough situation because when you draft one of those kids, you accept the fact that it’s going to be three years before they can help the team.”
Gervin realizes it will take a few years for them to develop, but feels it’s worth the wait.
“Look at the No. 1 pick, I don’t know if he’ll start but I don’t see why not,” he said. “As talented as he is and as young as he is, it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Unfortunately for a lot of these teams drafting young, those high schoolers may not be finishing with them.
Kidd, now on his third team, has some advice to anyone coming out early.
“Make sure you don’t go out and spend all your money the first time you get a big check because people will take advantage of you,” Kidd said.
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