Top recruit Brandon Jennings made waves last year when he opted to go pro in Europe instead of heading to Arizona, where he had committed earlier. A New York Times reporter checked in with the 6-2 point guard, who is playing in Italy, to find that life might not be so rosy overseas.
"I've gotten paid on time once this year," Jennings said in an e-mail message. "They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don't see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That's just how it is."
Jennings, a 6-foot-2 point guard who was regarded as the nation’s best high school player at his position a year ago, signed a $1.2 million deal in salary and endorsements to head to Europe in August instead of staying in the United States to play college basketball. Some analysts suggested that other elite players would follow the same path because of the rules requiring prospects to be a year removed from high school before becoming eligible for the N.B.A. draft.
The deal for Jennings allowed his mother and his half brother to live with him in Italy, and he said it still made economic sense. Yet he said he wanted others to know about his experience.
"I don't see too many kids doing it," his e-mail message said. "It's tough man, I'll tell you that. It can break you."
So will this be the end of early flights to Europe? Sneaker king Sonny Vaccaro claims he's been in touch with other players who are looking to make the jump. But after Jennings' report, they may be a little less willing to sign on that dotted line. "Myself, among others, thought there would be a revolution and players going to Europe,” said North Carolina-based recruiting Bob Gibbons told the Times. "I'm not so sure now after what I have been hearing with Jennings and all the cultural obstacles there are."
What do you think? Is the European era as over as quickly as it began?