Every season, players from all over the NCAA weigh the decision of leaving their schools early to leave for the professional ranks – a decision for some that could mean millions of dollars in revenue. A decision for some that could mean the end of a career.
After discussing his options on numerous occasions with his parents, coach Billy Donovan and God – not necessarily in that order – freshman guard Bradley Beal made the decision to leave the University of Florida men’s basketball program to enter the NBA draft.
In his press conference on Friday, Beal commented on just how hard this decision was: “Just the feeling, the emotions that I had, it was worse than losing the game against Louisville (in the NCAA region final). This place is great. I loved this year. I had a great year here. My teammates were great. Coaches were great. Everything about this place is beautiful. I’m really sad that I have to give it up, but I believe there are bigger things that I have to accomplish. It was the right time for me.”
Beal is now the first Florida Gator to leave the program after just one season since Donnell Harvey back in 2000. Harvey went on to become an average NBA player after being drafted 22nd overall and playing for five teams in four seasons. This is but one example of hundreds that coaches and basketball aficionados could point to and show Beal that his decision could spiral downward.
The problem for many young athletes is that they recall vividly the successes of players like Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James – the latter of whom never played college basketball. These players have had tremendous success in the NBA and are always on the brink of winning an NBA championship, including making millions of dollars every year.
While the millions sound great to a 19-year-old (Beal turns 19 on June 28, the same day of the draft), we sports skeptics must point toward cases like Terrell Owens and numerous others who at the top of their game were some of the highest paid players in sports history – yet today, they sit on the brink of bankruptcy with little left in the bank account.
Beal called it “one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.” This is by far one of the truest statements any young player should make. Reports indicate that Beal could be a top-5 pick in this year’s NBA draft. The fans in Gainesville wish him well, but the success he has in the NBA could very well be a crap shoot.
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