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?

Why the Overhyping of Players Needs to Stop

Manziel poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy after winning the award for the nation's top College Football player as a Freshman out of Texas A&M (New York Times).

Manziel poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy after winning the award for the nation’s top College Football player as a Freshman out of Texas A&M (New York Times).

 We all remember a young basketball player out of Toronto named Andrew Wiggins right?  Well, he was ranked as the top recruit in the country by ESPN, whenever he wasn’t even in the United States.  Many “experts” were expecting the Freshman to possibly win Big 12 Player of the Year or even lead the Kansas Jayhawks to a National Championship.  Then something happened, Wiggins did not play as expected against Louisiana-Monroe, only putting up 16 points.

“Well that’s only one game,” you say?  Against UTEP, who has not been in the NCAA Tournament since 2010, Wiggins only had 6 points, 9 on the road at Oklahoma and a grand total of 3 points at home against Oklahoma State, who was picked in a tie atop the Big 12 pre-season by the media. (Click here for Wiggins’ 2013-14 stats)

There are other examples in other sports as well.  For instance, Johhny Manziel could not meet media expectations after winning the Heisman Trophy as a Freshman, even though he suffered an injury during his Sophomore season.  However, with Texas A&M’s win total declining from 11 to 9, many critics blamed Manziel because his numbers were not “high enough.”

My point is this, we overhype too many athletes.  Society and the media both start to talk about how great players are at a certain level of play, without having seen them take the field yet.  Or, after winning an award or two, we expect even better out of them.  Sometimes that just is not possible.  Unfortunately, this is a trend that may continue, hurting athletes’ draft stock because of the “he’s not that good” attitude from one bad game.