Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Rise of Brandon Jennings

(AP photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

I always had a problem with those players that came right out of high school. I had a problem with Kevin Garnett. I had a problem with Kobe Bryant (until he became a Laker). I had a problem with LeBron James. I had a problem with them until I could see if they had a good head on their shoulders though interviews and such. I remember seeing a feature on Dwight Howard and thinking, Ok, I think this guy could have it, he seems really down-to-earth. These guys were certainly the exception but I still have a problem with those players that came out of high school and didn't live up to their hype. Players like Sebastian Telfair and O.J. Mayo had so much hype even before their senior year of high school. People were saying they were the next big thing but they haven't even come close to it, yet.

So here comes Brandon Jennings, who had the gall to *gasp* not go to college and head over to Europe to play pro ball. I have to admit, when I first heard about it, I didn't like that idea at all. For those of you that don't know, in 2006, the NBA created a rule that said players must now be at least 19 years of age and go to college for at least one year. Most have called it the "one-and-done rule" where players go to college for one year and then leave for the NBA. But Brandon went around the system and skipped college and decided to go and play basketball in Italy. Could an 18-year-old American kid survive in a foreign place full of people he didn't know, a language that he didn't speak with seasoned professionals that were much older than him? He did struggle a bit over in Italy but he did say that it was a great learning experience for him.

In this year's draft, there was much concern if Brandon's stock would fall because of his move across the sea. In June, Brandon was drafted at the number ten spot by the Milwaukee Bucks. There has been talk recently, especially after his 55-point game against the Golden State Warriors, which was 3 days after he dropped 32 points in a win over the Denver Nuggets, that the teams that drafted before the Bucks might have made a mistake for not drafting Brandon. He's been having a very good season and is in the early running for Rookie of the Year honors. It is too early to say but he is on his way to having a great career for himself.

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