What the Word “Justice” Means to Tyler Hansbrough

David ScercyCorrespondent IJune 1, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels stands during the national anthem before taking on the Oklahoma Sooners during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional Final at the FedExForum on March 29, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

The argument could be made that in some ways Tyler Hansbrough is the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, or the Jeff Gordon of College Basketball.

You either love him, or you hate him. For four years, Hansbrough played every game at the University of North Carolina like it was his last. His determination and hustle should pay big rewards at the next level, but will it?

The difference between NCAA basketball and the NBA is huge. A lot of fans have always wondered why. Sometimes I wonder why.

There is a wide variety of opinions when the subject comes up about Hansbrough in the NBA. Some think the game is too fast for him, he’s not big enough to play center, and he’s not athletic enough to play forward.

While those arguments are fair in every way, who can argue against Hansbrough being one of the greatest college basketball players to ever play the game? He played with a chip on his shoulder every night. He knew what was coming, and he never backed down. He gave new meaning to the term “hack-a-Shaq” at the college level.

In every way, Hansbrough was great for college basketball. But what will become of his professional career? Will he even be a factor in the NBA? Personally, I’m not sure anybody really knows.

But the sad thing is, some wonder if we will ever even find out. On many NBA mock draft boards, Hansbrough is not in the first round. We all know what usually happens to players picked in the second round. There are no guaranteed contracts. Usually they are sent to the NBA Developmental League. As if Hansbrough’s four years on one of the best college basketball teams ever wasn’t enough development.

During his freshman year, Hansbrough averaged nearly 19 points per game and 8 rebounds. In the summer months leading to the 2006 NBA draft, some experts believed he was a lottery pick if he came out. Hansbrough never even debated it.

Now we are all left wondering if his commitment to his college, his team, and the entire Tar Heel experience have cost him millions of dollars. Although his numbers went up every year, his pro stock went down every year. Somehow, someway, justice is lost here. Just two years ago this guy won every Player of the Year award college basketball had to offer.

Now the question comes up: Do the kids really benefit from staying in school fulfilling and their scholarship, or do they lose out on opportunities if they decide not to bail to the next level?

And I hate to write it, but the answer is obvious. When you decide to stay, you take a risk…a big risk. Being drafted in the first round of the NBA draft, you are guaranteed a three-year contract worth a minimum of six figures. That means if you are picked No. 31, instead of No. 30, the player taken ahead of you by one spot is set for probably a decade or so.

We praise Hansbrough for his energy, commitment, and work ethic involved in being one of the best ever to play the college game. Most of us, not all of us, are happy he got his ring and was a major part of why another banner will go up in the Dean Dome. But we all know deep down inside that the commitment Hansbrough displayed is on the border of costing him a lot of green. That’s the nature of the game.

That being said, when the 30th pick is here in the 2009 NBA draft and Hansbrough’s name has yet to be called, hopefully it will be time for some justice….

"With the 30th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select……"

Give college basketball some justice, Cleveland.