It's never too early to start looking towards next year. With the 2008 NBA draft gone and buried, there are plenty of top players to consider for the league's 2009 edition of "Who wants to be a millionaire."
One of those players is the flamboyant and incredibly-talented Brandon Jennings.
Jennings a 6-foot-1-inch point guard from Compton, Calif., who signed to play with Arizona next season, has scouts and coaches everywhere raving.
"I think he's clearly the best point guard in the class of 2008," said Rob Harrington, a veteran scout for Prepstars.com who has seen Jennings numerous times and is regarded as one of the best talent evaluators in the country. "He's tremendously quick and athletic and he can finish above the rim.
"He is a very talented passer and ball-handler. He is one of those players who has all the physical tools. As a talent he is first-rate. I think based on body type (he reminds me of) Kenny Anderson, although he's a better shooter than Anderson but not as good a play-maker."
That's pretty high praise from a guy whose job it is to be critical and assess the potential of these players.
Clearly, Jennings is a player who would've bypassed college had the NBA not instituted a rule that makes players wait a year before they can enter the league.
No, you didn't read it wrong.
Nowhere does it say, in any rule book, that a player must attend college for a year. They simply must wait a year after high school graduation.
And Jennings might be the first to take advantage of that rule.
Recently, Jennings, the single-season scoring leader at the famed Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, told the New York Times that he is considering skipping college. It's not just because of academic issues. It's also because there's no reason why he should go to college — he instead is considering playing professionally in Europe for one season before entering the 2009 NBA draft.
Each year there are two to three can't-miss prospects who have no business wasting a year of their lives playing for free at a university. They have no business acting like they are in school for anything other than basketball.
Plus, you don't get paid in college. I don't know about you but I would never do anything that yielded other people millions of dollars and not get anything out of it for myself.
"Jennings has always been the kind of kid to drive his own cart," Harrington said. "If he's able to (play successfully in Europe) and he parlays that year overseas into becoming a lottery pick in 2009, I expect a lot kids to follow suit soon. I don't think that's such a bad idea. It's better for them and it's better for college basketball not to have a bunch of one year players."
Again, Harrington hits the nail on the head.
The only proposed down side to playing in Europe as opposed to college for one season is lack of name recognition and a possible decline in draft status.
Those problems easily are negated. In Europe Jennings would be playing against grown men – not college-aged kids.
Again, I'll let an expert say it better than I possibly could.
"Why play for free when you don't have to," said Bomani Jones, host of Sports Saturday on Raleigh, N.C. sports talk radio station 850 the buzz. "By playing in Europe it's a higher-level of competition than you have playing in college, the players are older and he wouldn't have to be focused on school in any way whatsoever. It's playing basketball all the time and getting paid."
"I can't think of anybody that would see a bad idea in the opportunity to live overseas for a year and experience another culture. I can't think of any other situation where someone would question that and wonder if that was a good idea."
Neither can I…