Top NBA Prospects Face Challenges In Road From Amateur to Professional Basketball


By Michael Markoch

UNITED STATES- Zion Williamson has been entertaining basketball fans for the last year, putting on a show every time he stepped on the court for the Duke Blue Devils last season.  However, recently, Williamson’s name has been in the news for the wrong reasons.

Williamson and his mother have recently been linked to the dark cloud that has been hovering the NCAA for decades.  The problem is that players or families are supposedly being paid for their son’s services as a student athlete.

Duke has recently been made aware of an accusation that the sports apparel company, Nike, was found to have provided financial compensation to Williamson’s mother in exchange for Zion’s complete commitment to Duke.  

Throughout the season, Williamson has been very humble making sure the spotlight was turned away from him and onto his teammates.  He has also viewed the Duke team as a brotherhood that has helped him in his journey to the NBA.

The reason why these players are seeking financial compensation is what has come to be known as the One-and-Done Rule.  This rule prohibits players to enter the NBA below the age of 19.

All-time great players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Tracy McGrady entered the NBA at 18, right out of high school, before the rule was enforced.

Because of this rule, high school players are trying to find a reason to go to college, and unfortunately one of those reasons has become paying athletes.

Neither Williamson, his mother, nor Nike have been formally charged with any wrongdoing, and they might not be. However wrong it may be, the idea that a player of Williamson’s caliber was paid for his commitment to college is not surprising, as college is not primarily meant for athletics, but for academics.  

The NBA is looking into abolishing the One-and-Done Rule and letting players come directly out of high school, but there are so many logistics that need to be sorted out on both ends in order for that to happen.

The road to professional basketball is a long and hard one that most people don’t think much of.  Of course these players need to have talent, but maybe even more important is the patience and discipline that they learn along the way.

Let’s take a look at another top NBA prospect, Ja Morant.  Morant received one scholarship offer to play Division I college basketball from Murray State.  This came as a surprise as Morant played on the same AAU team as Williamson, the number two nationally ranked basketball recruit in the Class of 2018.

While Williamson was collecting all the fame for his Instagram videos of him destroying rims and breaking ankles, Morant went unnoticed by most, as he played under the biggest basketball shadow in the nation.

Morant has since played two years at Murray State, led them to two NCAA tournaments as a mid-major university, and was the star in their first round upset against Marquette in the 2019 tournament. He has since declared for the 2019 NBA Draft and is almost guaranteed to be one of the first three players selected, just like Williamson.

Morant never needed financial compensation to play basketball, his desire was so strong that he just wanted an opportunity, no matter where it was.  

We can only hope that nothing bad comes out of the Zion Williamson allegations.  As for right now, more players should accept and adapt to the mindset of Ja Morant and work for what they have, as that is the key to true success.

PC: NBA, 2019 NBA Draft


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