Garnett Should Have Gone to College
KG's Rookie Season
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
July 11, 1995
You've heard a lot about Kevin Garnett, the high school kid who was the fifth pick in the National Basketball Association draft by the Timberwolves. Well, here is something else to know about young Mr. Garnett: If he ends up being a great NBA player, it will be an absolute miracle.
Imagine being Kevin Garnett. One day, you are a 19-year-old high school kid; the next day, you are worth $40 million. What did you do to make the money? Nothing, other than win the NBA lottery - and you won the lottery because you failed to score high enough on the SAT or ACT to qualify to play as a freshman at the college of your choice.
If you had answered just a few more questions right, you probably would be starting for Steve Fisher at Michigan this season. Garnett probably doesn't realize it, but being a freshman at Michigan would be far better for him than being a kid in NBA - regardless of the money. I know, I'm not the one looking to collect all that cash. Even if the NBA can implement its rookie salary cap, Garnett will make $1.4 million next season. The No. 5 pick last year, Juwan Howard, signed for $37 million over 10 years.
But handing a high school kid $40 million does not make him an NBA player. Just try to tell him that. Imagine being Garnett and having all these adults genuflect at the mere mention of your name. Imagine pocketing a $3 million bonus before your first day of training camp.Why would you listen to any coach? What kind of a person are you likely to become?
Six weeks ago, Garnett was at his high school prom. Those college tests were getting him down, and his friends were telling him: ``Man, you don't need college. Why not just do it? Go for the NBA now.'' Life's a Nike commercial, right? A month ago, the 6-foot-10, 220-pound Garnett was supposed to be a low first-round pick. Then he went to predraft camp in Chicago. He didn't play against any of the college or Continental Basketball Association players competing for the NBA sleuths.
All Garnett did was work out - by himself - and the scouts nearly drowned in their drool watching this kid dribble, shoot, jump and take part in individual drills.
Minnesota drafted him at No. 5. Everyone is assuming that Garnett's natural gifts will guarantee him a terrific NBA career. Does anyone really know this? Do the names Danny Ferry, Pervis Ellison and Bo Kimble sound familiar? These guys had great college careers, and supposedly couldn't miss but did.
When it comes to Garnett, it seems as though the people who should know better aren't giving the NBA the respect the league deserves. Garnett isn't strong enough to guard power forwards, so he is supposed to be a small forward. But he's 6-10, and most of them are 6-7. Imagine what a Scottie Pippen or even Grant Hill will do when this kid tries to defend them. The kid is going to struggle and draw an alarming number of fouls. And Minnesota already is overloaded with lottery pick forwards - Christian Laettner, J.R. Rider and Tom Gugliotta.
How is the 1995 MVP of the McDonald's High School All-American Game going to like serious pine time? Even if he is the greatest high school player to come straight to the NBA since Moses Malone - and Malone is the only prep player to take this route and reach his full potential - the social pressures on Garnett will be enormous. In the past few years, he has lived some of the time with his mother, and some of the time with ``friends.'' He said that his mother will move to Minnesota to be near him, but they won't live in the same house.
The Timberwolves are lining up a family to take care of Garnett. But you also can be sure that the leeches are coming out from under the rocks ready to latch on, too.
Would college have helped Garnett? When you are 19, two years is the same as 20 in terms of physical and mental maturity. ``If he had gone to college, Kevin would have been the No. 1 pick in two years,'' said Minnesota general manager Kevin McHale.
What's wrong with that? What's the rush? And before this is over, don't be surprised if both the Timberwolves and Garnett wish they had waited those two years.
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