McDonald on NBA and recruiting

29 06 2010

During a media interview on Monday, I asked Western Kentucky men’s basketball coach Ken McDonald his thoughts on the growing issue of high school basketball players becoming more and more obsessed with the NBA – and in the process, often looking at college basketball as an afterthought.

Ken McDonald • WKU basketball coach

Obviously the NBA has become a huge selling point in recruiting, but has it become too large of a selling point?

McDonald’s thoughts:

“It’s frustrating from the standpoint that we’re in this to be educators and to be teachers, but you seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about the NBA. Which sometimes is a little bit out of whack.”

“You want guys to understand it’s a process. There’s a lot of players that the NBA evaluates and there are a lot of players that athletically can maybe do it, there’s some guys on this team this year that might be able to. But the mental part of the game becomes more of a factor. You have to have kids come in with the right approach and understand how it works.”

“It’s such a small amount of players that get to that level, it’s literally one in a million. You have a better chance at winning the lottery. But unfortunately, that becomes a motivating factor. And there’s nothing wrong with chasing a dream, but you have to tie in the education – that’s what they have to fall back on most of the time. Not some of the time or part of the time, but 99 percent of the time. I’ve had a chance to coach and recruit some guys that have gone on and had success in the NBA and that’s a blessing, but it’s just not very frequent.”

Where does this obsession come from?

“It’s a combination of everything. If you think about it, a lot of kids come from different backgrounds and basketball’s an outlet. Myself, growing up with six kids and just my mom raising us – there’s no chance I would’ve went to college without basketball. So the dream part’s exciting for a lot of kids. But the next part is, ‘how can I make a living?’ Then you see some of the lifestyles, you see the NBA on TV and you could even blame SportsCenter – they all want a piece of that. It’s an exciting trade to be a part of, but you have to have a balance between what’s realistic and chasing a dream. We try to reinforce the part about getting an education, having something to fall back on and enjoy what you’re making a living at.”

How frustrating can it be to have to get a player that might be more concerned with individual goals to focus on a team situation in college – as well as an education?

“We deal with it every day and that’s managing personnel. That’s the hardest part of what we do at the college level, because everything has to be geared toward the team concept but at the same time, you get a lot of that individualism that we sell in the recruiting process – it’s what we can do for you, how we’re going to develop you while trying to also sell a team product.”

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