Pivot Points: Brandon Jennings' Success Confirms A New Path To the NBA

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer INovember 16, 2009

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 03: Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks looks to pass against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on November 3, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bucks 83-81.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As I digest the magnitude of Brandon Jennings and his 55-point outburst—and the historical implications it has on the NBA—a few things pop into my mind.

First of all, Jennings and his early success may have rendered the NBA's ridiculous age-limit rule totally irrelevant, and maybe we can get past the notion that players are better prepared after playing one year in college.

There was much discussion about Jennings and his decision to forgo college, and instead hop across the Atlantic to play professionally in Europe. Although there were a few people who saw the value in this move, most of the response was negative.

Most observers felt that his development would be stunted and his confidence shattered by the way Europeans treated American players, especially rookies.

Their fears seemed to be confirmed, as Jennings struggled to find playing time and eventually became an after-thought in the minds of many basketball pundits and experts.

No one thought much about the Bucks making him their point guard of the future, and the general attitude was that Jennings would be decent player, but the jury was still out on how much his time over-seas had affected his game.

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Jennings quickly brought his name back to the forefront of conversation when he missed a triple-double by one assist and one rebound in his very first regular season game.

Some people might consider that game a fluke, but how do you explain his 55-point explosion or the fact that he is currently averaging 25.6 points per game, while shooting an astonishing 50 percent from the field and an even more impressive 56 percent from behind the three point line?

Maybe he learned a little more than we thought he had, and just maybe the professional experience he received in Europe was better than anything he could have gotten by attending a year of college in the states.

The myth that a high school player needed to attend a year of college is something that has been perpetuated by both the NBA and the NCAA in a feeble attempt to preserve what some see as a failing product in college basketball.

To be honest, there are numerous players that are woefully unprepared for the rigors of NBA life, both physically and mentally, but the numbers of players that have made the jump successfully makes that issue a moot point.

The weakest part of Jennings' game was thought to be his jumper, but as his shooting percentage will attest, it seems that may have been vastly overstated, or it was a part of his game he was able to concentrate on overseas.

Regardless of where or how the improvement occurred it brings us back to this point, why waste a year in college when a player could benefit more from playing right away or making the jump overseas?

It's not like that one year in school is going to make a huge difference in a high school player's game anyway, and the scholarship would be much better spent on a player willing to make at least a three year commitment to the school.

In rushing to preserve the sanctity of the college game, the powers that be have created a culture of one-and-done players who have no real interest in higher education anyway.

That is the real problem that exists when dismissing the valuable experience that Jennings had overseas. For proof positive, look no further than John Calipari and his hastily assembled team of Kentucky future pros.

Calipari is a great coach with questionable recruiting motives that has left a dark stain on every program he has been associated with. It could be argued that the only beneficiary in his recruitment of a player like John Wall is Calipari himself.

Wall is a player that is said to have more potential than Jennings and an even greater dislike for higher education. So what will his one year at Kentucky really prove?

There have already been questions raised about Wall's eligibility, and his time as a Wildcat only serves Calipari's own selfishness in his quest for the national championship that has so far eluded him.

Why should Wall be forced to attend classes where he probably won't learn much and it's obvious his time there is not going to improve his game.

It's better to scrap the age-limit rule and let him play right away or take the alternative route of Jennings and go to Europe where his game can see real growth and development.

To be fair there is a dark side to the story and his name is Jeremy Tyler. Tyler is a player who decided to skip his senior year of high school and take his potential to Israel to play professionally.

The need for a basic education is a necessity in our society, and in no way do I condone a player not receiving a high school diploma, but Tyler's decision is sure to be followed by other players with dollar signs in their eyes.

What will the NBA and NCAA solution be then? What happens when players decide to forgo high school altogether and jump for the large amounts of money that beckons them from overseas?

That is an extreme vision and one that I do not expect to see, but the success that Brandon Jennings is having right now has to be driving David Stern mad.

The intelligence of Jennings was questioned when he made his fateful decision to play overseas, but considering his Rookie of the Year start and his All-Star caliber numbers, who looks the most intelligent now?  

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