Vitale: Draft thoughts

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Sad story for Washington


Reflecting back on last week's NBA draft, there was one sad story.

Every year we have a story like this, where youngsters listen to the wrong people. They get advice from individuals that fill their heads with visions of grandeur. These young men are told that they are the next star, and that they will go high in the draft. I know confidence is important but sometimes realism has to step in.

Many times these kids are not real judging and evaluating their talents.

How in the world could a kid like Darius Washington go to the NBA draft and not have a guarantee that he would be picked? To subject himself to that is absurd, especially when he had two more years of eligibility remaining at Memphis. He could have returned to a high-profile program to learn under a coach (John Calipari) that understands what it is like to develop as a player.

Calipari coached in the NBA and he has a great feel for the flow and what that level is all about. Washington didn't want to hear the right advice; he wanted to hear that he was better than what he really was.

The young man made a major mistake going into the draft. Sixty players heard their names called, but Washington was shut out, blank, zero. He did not get picked.

So what happens now? He bounces from league to league and becomes a basketball vagabond. He had the opportunity to become a part of something beautiful on a college campus. He could have been the big man on the Memphis campus in 2006-07, instead of battling just to make a roster as an undrafted player.

Oh well. I hope some other kids watching the NBA draft could learn for the mistakes of guys like Washington, Missouri's Thomas Gardner, San Diego State's Marcus Slaughter and Curtis Stinson of Iowa State. All of them entered as underclassmen but went undrafted.

All of them should have stayed in school. Every year there will be another story just like this. It is a way of life, all about ego, ego, ego. They see their buddies in the draft and feel they should go to. It is sad to think that these young men could have enjoyed another season in the prime of their lives, being on the college campus.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.