SPRINGFIELD, OK--Ty Poole, 19, a star basketball player in high school, came to college at the University of Maryland with a dream: a dream of becoming an NBA star. Unfortunately, after a disappointing freshman year which saw him average only 6.6 ppg, that dream is dead. Poole returns for his sophomore campaign in two weeks, a failure and an embarrassment.
“Ever since I was a little kid I worked so hard at becoming the best basketball player I can be,” Poole said from his home in Broken Arrow, OK. “I wanted nothing more than to play in the NBA and I was absolutely convinced I could do it. Now, after one year, the dream is over. I’m a sophomore, which in Division I college basketball lingo translates into ‘loser.’”
The worst part, says Poole, is seeing several of his friends and teammates make the leap to the NBA after their freshman years.
“A couple of the guys on the team got drafted,” he said. “They’re gone now. A couple of my buddies from back home, they went to different schools and got drafted. They’re all excited about it. They’re bragging about it on social media. They’re rich. And I’m going back for year two. I guess now I’ll be the wily veteran mentor to all the freshman players coming in. Hopefully they remember me when they go on to the NBA.”
Despite his disappointment, Poole says he’s not totally closing the door on the possibility of being drafted to the NBA as a sophomore. However remote, it’s all he’s got left.
“I suppose it’s not totally unprecedented for a sophomore to get drafted,” Poole said. “Maybe if I average 80 points a game and win Player of the Year and hit the game winning shot in the NCAA championship I can get drafted in the second round or something. Even that’s a long shot, because who wants to have some crotchety 20 year-old rookie on their team? Your best years are already behind you.”
Since the NBA outlawed students entering the draft directly from high school, blue chip prospects are now forced to spend one year in college before making the transition. In recent years, the NBA has come to be dominated by these “one and doners”, and college coaches have been forced to learn to deal with high turnover among freshmen players.
“Oh, the decent players are outta here after one year,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “They know it, we know it, everybody knows it. We got 'em for one year and then we’re on to the next crop of high schoolers. It works for us because every year we get a new batch of uber talented kids, they kick ass for one year, then they move on and are replaced by some more. The ones that don’t move on? We have a word for them, and that word is ‘students.’”
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