Dec. 30, 2003
As I was reading the transactions this week, I came across a minor detail that most wouldn't glance at, but it was big to me: "Hornets waive James Lang."
James Lang was a 2003 McDonald's High School All-American -- a strong, 6-10 big man from Alabama with loads of talent. He decided to declare early for the 2003 NBA draft despite so many people telling him how much he needed the experience of college.
Lang didn't do the job on the academic end and went to the NBA. What a major disappointment that had to be to many of his followers.
He could have developed, gotten himself into great condition and improved many facets of his game with playing time on the collegiate level. Lang could have made himself a legitimate first-rounder.
He went in the second round of the 2003 draft, at pick No. 48, to the New Orleans Hornets. There was no guaranteed money and no pressure for a team to keep him the way clubs often stick with first-rounders for a while.
It looks like Lang will become another basketball vagabond, bouncing from one league to another. He will hope and chase a dream that he could have made a reality with the proper work ethic and a collegiate background.
Look at Ndudi Ebi, who is sitting at the end of the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves. There's no doubt that he has great talent and that Minnesota has great players in front of him. The development process is not the same when you are a reserve in the pros compared to getting instant playing time and gaining confidence on the collegiate level.
If you don't believe me, look at Carmelo Anthony, T.J. Ford and others who were wise enough to get a year or two of college experience and then ended up as high lottery picks.
Ebi would have gone in the lottery if he had received college seasoning. Instead, he was fortunate enough to get picked late in the first round to earn guaranteed dollars. You can say the same for Kendrick Perkins, who has been hurt this season; he's sitting the pine with the Boston Celtics.
It looks like James Lang will become another basketball vagabond.
Every high-school phenom thinks he's LeBron James. But most of these kids would be better off going to college, listening to good advice and developing their games.
Let's hope that Lang can bounce back. Youth is on his side, and now he must add loads of work ethic to it.
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