By Nicholas Muhl
This past Friday, Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball coach John Calipari hosted an NBA-style combine for his players to show off their skills prior to the start of next spring’s draft. The combine was attended by over 90 NBA scouts and general managers, and each team had at least one representative present.
This coming year, the Wildcats squad is home to six McDonald’s All-Americans and is coming off a runner-up performance in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The two-hour combine, which was televised live on ESPNU, included both individual and team drills , which are included in the NBA scouting combine each year.
The move by Calipari to host such an event is not surprising, considering a record six Kentucky players were taken in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Wildcats head coach has produced many high level NBA players including Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe and the list goes on. More recently, former Wildcat players Anthony Davis, Julius Randle and Nerlens Noel were all selected in the top 10 picks in recent drafts.
Unlike many of his peers, Calipari embraces the one-and-done college basketball player. With his padded resume he continues to send 18 and 19-year-old young adults into the NBA, where the average player age is around 27 years old. Calipari was quoted this past weekend acknowledging that many of his players are already considering the NBA, long before they even attend their first class on campus.
“Someone said, ‘You’ll make them think about the NBA.’ Excuse me? They all do. Even the walk-ons. It creates a base for me to build with each individual kid and what I need to do.”
This brings to light a serious issue in sports culture today. 18-21 year old young adults are still maturing as they gain new responsibilities with age. In today’s sports society, these young student-athletes are exposed to fame, fortune, massive media coverage and many other things a typical young adult does not experience at such an age.
Through social media networks like Twitter, major TV networks like ESPN, and other media outlets, student athletes who achieve even most smallest amount of success are household names by the end of the week.
It isn’t just college basketball, as this goes for football and all other major college sports. One can argue that the added attention, such as Kentucky’s combine, can only bring upon more success for the student-athlete. At the very least, they receive recognition for the great achievements and talents they posses.
However, there is an opposite side to the coin. As much as fans love their young talent and phenoms, is the media and college sports as whole bringing too much added attention to student-athletes at such an age? Young superstars like Wildcats Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis are great examples of how successful a student-athlete can be from the additional attention they received at a young age.
Examples of Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston, both who have been surrounded by media coverage since the start of their college careers, can be given as to why student-athletes at such a young age are exposed to too much early on in their bright careers.