I’m rarely an advocate of early scholarship offers. And I’m not talking about the rising 10th-grader who receives a full-ride opportunity after showing promise in a summer AAU tournament.
I’m talking about the eighth-grader who accepted a scholarship to play football at Washington in, like, 2021 or whatever.
That’s ridiculous. It’s an unfair practice that often leaves young prospects in difficult situations when they fail to blossom into the players that the early buzz suggests they’ll become.
There are exceptions, though.
I mean, I couldn’t fault Thad Matta or any other college coach if they offered a scholarship to a 13-year-old shot-blocker who’s also the younger brother of former No. 1 NBA draft pick Greg Oden.
Joe Jones III, also known as Baby Joe, is only 13 years old. He is 6'6 and is expected to be seven feet tall. Baby Joe is not the first basketball player in his family. His father, Joe Jones Jr. played at Fairmont State and his half-brother, Greg Oden, was the number one overall pick in the in the 2007 NBA draft.
Baby Joe is considered one of the top young basketball players in the country. In order to continue to grow his game, he competes with players three to five years older than him.
Baby Jones’ pedigree and physical tools have many believing that he could become one of the better players to hail from Buffalo.
Here’s the first thing. You’re not “Baby” anything when you’re 6-foot-6 and you wear a size 16 shoe (per the accompanying video clip).
Now, Jones might be another tall kid. There are thousands of them.
But his family ties and medical projections that he’ll eventually grow to 7 feet tall make him a far more intriguing athlete than a typical lanky kid who hasn’t reached high school.
His brother’s pro career has been interrupted by multiple knee injuries. When he was healthy, however, Oden was a force.
He led Ohio State to the national championship game after averaging 15.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 3.3 BPG during the 2006-07 season.
Now, it’s not prudent to assume that Baby Joe will evolve into a player with even half his older brother’s talent. But I couldn’t be mad at any coach who tried to lure him with an early offer.
Not how I normally feel in these situations.
But, this isn’t a normal situation.