ESPN: Did They Start a Trend? Or Simply Hop on Board?

Oklahoma State Sophomore Point Guard Marcus Smart kicks a chair at the OSU bench in a conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 25, 2014. (via Phog.net)

Oklahoma State Sophomore Point Guard Marcus Smart kicks a chair at the OSU bench in a conference game against West Virginia on Jan. 25, 2014. (via Phog.net)

On April 2nd the annual McDonald’s High School All-American Game was on ESPN, showcasing next year’s prospective “One-and-done’s” in College Basketball.  These are kids who haven’t even graduated from High School yet, and one still has not decided where he is going to go to college.

None of these kids that played last night are going to pay a dime for college.  And in most cases, they will only be in college for one year before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is calling their names out in June 2015 when they are drafted.

On National Signing Day every February, ESPN does a massive Signing Day special on their flagship program SportsCenter as well as live coverage all day long on ESPNU.

Once they get into college, you can safely guess that they treat all of these star athletes just as they did Marcus Smart through this past College Basketball season.  When they play well, they continue to overhype how good they really are.  If they don’t play well, then ESPN traditional treats it as if it’s the end of that player’s career and they no longer will get drafted.

Seriously? (Click here for ESPN’s coverage of Smart’s chair incident)

Nevermind the fact that these are 18-22 year-old kids that are still growing up.  ESPN blows collegiate athletics way out of proportion.

I believe that ESPN started this whole trend, and we all hopped on board with them because they are “the Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

The Draft and its “Prestige”

South Carolina DE, Jadeveon Clowney during the 2014 Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.  The Gamecocks beat Wisconsin 34-24. (Photo via CBS Sports)

South Carolina DE, Jadeveon Clowney during the 2014 Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The Gamecocks beat Wisconsin 34-24. (Photo via CBS Sports)

“Jadeveon Clowney could potentially be the top overall draft pick in 2014,” said everyone in America.

“Andrew Wiggins could potentially be the top overall draft pick in 2014,” they all continued before the season even started.

Too often now, may people start drooling over “draft prospects” when they are just coming into the major college ranks or even when they are still in high school.

Look at Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina’s “star” Defensive End who became popular after his brutal hit on Michigan Running Back Vincent Smith during the 2013 Outback Bowl.  At the beginning of the 2013 season, ESPN’s draft “experts” both had Jadeveon Clowney at the top of their draft boards and said many teams were drooling over Clowney. (Watch Clowney’s brutal hit here)

I can honestly say that Clowney, to me, was overhyped.  In their season opener against North Carolina, UNC just ran plays the other way.  Lo and behold, no Clowney affect.

“It’s not his fault other teams run plays to the other side”

Correct, it isn’t.  However, if Clowney was truly top pick material, wouldn’t he be versatile enough to, I don’t know, switch sides?  There’s not a truly significant difference.  Plus his own coach, Steve Spurrier, said his work ethic is “okay.” (For that story from CBS Sports, click here)

Enough about Clowney, what about others?

Kansas Guard Andrew Wiggins, a freshman, said prior to the season that this would likely be his only season playing college basketball.  In 2013, Nerlens Noel left Kentucky after his freshman year, even though he tore his ACL early in SEC play in a game at Florida.

Is the draft really as prestigious as we all want it to be?  Or are we simply ruining the young, promising careers of what we assume to be world-class athletes, like Jadeveon Clowney?