Ellis Richardson will never play in the NBA.
The former high school basketball standout took a chance at NBA stardom immediately after he graduated from Poly High School in Sun Valley, Calif., but had his hopes dashed when he failed to get drafted in 1998.
Now he’s serving time for armed robbery.
While Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady made names for themselves after coming straight to the NBA, Korleone Young and Leon Smith did not.
Both were drafted in the first round of the draft in 1998 and 1999, respectively, but were released shortly after making their professional debuts.
And many say they would have had more successful outings had they gotten the proper training – in an NCAA-sanctioned collegiate program.
Talks of adding an age stipulation to the association’s drafting policies has resurfaced, and this time it should be enacted.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has voiced concern for at least two years that players over the age of 20 would be more suited to play in the NBA, and I, for one, agree.
If you look at his stats, you’ll see that it took Bryant two years to play at his expected level. In his first two years, he averaged 11.5 points per game and played an average of 20 minutes. Since then, he has averaged 24 points and 38 minutes per game.
Players like Mateen Cleaves, who went from being the star of NCAA champion Michigan State in 2000 to a mediocre NBA career with the Detroit Pistons, don’t make my point so clear. But then there are others like Steve Nash, who made his NBA potential known well after high school.
Playing in college makes you more marketable and your staying power in the league a whole lot better.
Of Young, Smith and Richardson, only Young still plays professional basketball – in the Continental Basketball Association. Smith left the business all together.
Of course, the Bryant’s and the McGrady’s are going to continue to thrive on the court.
But is it a chance to take when once in a while an Ellis Richardson will surface, too?
Marlon A. Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.