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The NBA Lure

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Even if you don't follow basketball, you've surely heard of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, both of whom went straight from high school to transcendent stardom in the National Basketball Association. And hoops fans will readily recall that Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and even Bill Willoughby had success in the NBA after skipping college ball in the 1970s.

But can you place Korleone Young, Lenny Cooke and Ousmane Cisse?

They also were renowned high school players, all of whom entered the NBA draft in the last decade without first going to college. Young and Cisse were drafted and quickly failed. Cooke never even got a taste of the NBA.

We bring this up in the wake of the decision by San Diego High School junior Jeremy Tyler and his family to have the 6-foot-11 phenom become the first American player to leave high school early to play professional basketball.

In Tyler's case, the plan is to hone his skills against professionals overseas for two years and then enter the NBA draft in 2011.

He is not eligible to play in the NBA until then because of a 2006 rule change that requires players to be at least one year removed from high school before entering the league.

A young man like Tyler and his family should be free to decide whether he should leave high school to go to work, whether laying tile or making lucrative lay-ups. And, in Tyler's case, the experts agree that his talent makes him quite likely to succeed in the NBA. So, his choice might well be the right one for him.

But, in general, we are confident that finishing high school and, when possible, attending college is the best course for the vast majority of young athletes. Far too many have unrealistic dreams of achieving superstardom, when in fact there are thousands of Ousmanes and Korleones for every LeBron and Kobe.

REPRINTED FROM THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



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