Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma basketball: Can’t criticize M’Baye’s decision

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 31, 2013 at 10:10 pm •  Published: March 28, 2013

OU forward Amath M’Baye stunned most of us Wednesday when he announced he was declaring for the NBA Draft. We never saw it coming, and even Lon Kruger said the decision came out of the blue on Monday. But it’s a great lesson for all who follow college basketball: 1. Always consider whether underclassmen will leave school; 2. Always look at factors other than just likely draft slot.

Oklahoma's Amath M'Baye (22) tries to get past San Diego State's DeShawn Stephens (23) during a game between the University of Oklahoma and San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Friday, March 22, 2013. San Diego State beat OU, 70-55. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Amath M'Baye (22) tries to get past San Diego State's DeShawn Stephens (23) during a game between the University of Oklahoma and San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Friday, March 22, 2013. San Diego State beat OU, 70-55. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
M’Baye is 231/2 years old. If he stayed at OU another year, he would be 241/2 entering the professional ranks. No way would he improve his draft status. NBA teams aren’t interested in 241/2-year-old prospects who can’t make an immediate impact. Nineteen-year-olds can improve dramatically; 241/2-year-olds do not.

So anyone whose draft status is not going to be affected by staying or leaving must make their decision based on other factors. Like, where do they want to be? It certainly sounds like M’Baye is ready to move on. You can read our story here. M’Baye was emphatic — he’s going to hire an agent and will not consider removing his name from the draft list.

M’Baye said he’ll graduate in May, and when a ballplayer gets his degree and wants to move on, exactly what is there to debate about? The avowed goal of a university is to educate students; when one of those students graduates and says adios, there can be no counter of, but don’t you want to stay and play on the basketball team?

Sometimes guys are just ready to leave. College basketball charmed us all for decades, but the longer time goes, the more we realize many players are not so enamored with it. The thought of getting paid to play, and the concept of making your own lifestyle decisions, is too enticing.

Plus, M’Baye is from France. Sure, he’d like to make the NBA. That’s not going to happen, I don’t think, but maybe he just wants to go home. Maybe he’s ready to go play in France, closer to family. That’s what I would want to do, I promise you.

So M’Baye gave us a great lesson. Consider all the possible early entrants. At OSU, we could easily see that Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown will consider leaving. But sometimes, less likely guys want to go pro, too.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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