St. John’s men’s basketball head coach Mike Jarvis was right. His freshman guard, Christ the King alum Omar Cook, was not ready for NBA prime time. Cook was not selected in the first round of last week’s NBA draft held at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Instead he had to settle for being a second round draft choice of the Denver Nuggets, who obtained him in a trade with the Houston Rockets. Many sportswriters, including myself, were incensed at the NBA media relations officials who refused to extend an invitation to Cook to partake in the draft festivities. It turns out that they knew what they were doing.
Seton Hall freshman forward Eddie Griffin reacted with the enthusiasm of someone learning that he needed an emergency root canal when he was selected by the New Jersey Nets who had the seventh pick in the draft. When I asked Griffin if he believed that the Nets chose him in the hopes that he would help sell tickets to Seton Hall Pirates fans, Griffin mumbled, “You have to ask them.”
In a rare display of common sense, Nets executives quickly decided that they did not want to spend millions of dollars on a player who did not want to be part of their organization. The Nets quickly traded Griffin to the Houston Rockets for all three of their first round picks, Arizona forward Richard Jefferson, Stanford center Jason Collins and Pepperdine shooting guard Brandon Armstrong. Jefferson and Collins were often injured during their college careers which means that they should perfectly fit in with the Nets.
It is a sad commentary on the state of the National Basketball Association when a fine basketball player has to apologize for having graduated from a top flight school while receiving academic honors. Yet this was the bizarre situation in which Duke’s Shane Battier found himself. In a draft in which three of the first four picks were players coming straight from the high school ranks into the NBA, Battier appeared ancient being a 22-year-old college grad.
Battier touted the virtues of staying in college and getting your degree. “I never considered leaving school early. You can’t put a price on a full college experience. College helps you deal with life’s adversities. Surviving in the NBA requires more than just being able to put the ball in the hoop.” Battier plans on attending law school when his NBA days are behind him.
Once a high school player declares himself eligible for the NBA draft he immediately forfeits all college scholarship eligibility. Tyson Chandler, who was chosen second in the draft, graduated a few weeks ago from L.A.’s Dominguez High School. He conceded that in the future there could very well be numerous tragic stories of high schoolers who delude themselves into thinking that they are NBA-caliber and sadly find out otherwise.
If you want to see Jennifer Capriati, who is seeking her third straight Grand Slam title at Wimbledon this week after winning the Australian and French Opens, you won’t have to wait for this year’s US Open. Capriati has signed on to play at the A&P Mahwah Tennis Classic which will take place from July 16th through the 22nd. This annual Northern New Jersey tennis event is good fun as it features plenty of food samples and good music. Randy Travis, Huey Lewis and the Doobie Brothers are all scheduled to appear.