In what will undoubtably be one of the most scrutinized decision in prep sports history, 5-star point guard and Arizona signee Brandon Jennings has decided to forgo his college eligibility to turn pro. . .in Europe. While most people have been speculating that the decision is based on his trouble achieving a high enough SAT score–met the requirement on his 2nd try, but the NCAA flagged it for being a suspiciously high increase from his 1st try and he is awaiting the results of his 3rd attempt–his family asserts they have been considering going to Europe for a while because of the NBA rule that American high school players cannot be drafted until 1 year after their high school class has graduated. Lute Olson appears to be less than thrilled with the decision and has stated he will not recruit anybody who would be a one-and-done player.
While Jennings probably isn’t the 1st American-born player to go straight from high school to an overseas professional league, he certainly is the first with legitimate NBA potential. It will be interesting to see how Jennings does as it will give us a better insight into high-level college basketball versus European pro ball.
On Thursday, Jennings signed with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma of the Italian league. The deal was negotiated by Sonny Vaccaro (surprise!) and is described as a “three-year, multimillion-dollar” contract with an option for a buyout if Jennings wishes to enter the NBA Draft. Vaccaro declined to go into detail about the financials, but I’m assuming Vaccaro is shrewd enough to make sure that the buyout isn’t significant enough to affect his client’s draft stock.
I’m not that familiar with European basketball outside of a few of the major powers, which Pallacanestro Virtus Roma definitely is not (last European League title came in 1984). However, it seems like Vaccaro has ensured that Jennings is in a position to succeed by placing him with an English-speaking coach and arranging for many other things including taking care of his family.
In order to study what could become a major turning point in college basketball (players skipping it to go overseas before the NBA), we will try to provide updates and analysis of Jennings and his performance along with an attempt to translate it into how it will affect his draft stock. In the meantime, if any of you are familiar with Italian league basketball share your knowledge with your fellow fans in the comment section.