Thursday, May 28, 2009

Definitely A Surprise: Terrence Oglesby To Europe

I don't think anybody saw this one coming: Terrence Oglesby is giving up his final two seasons of eligibility to play in Europe. In retrospect, while it's surprising that he's giving up two years of being a leading player in the ACC, it's not a surprise that he's going to play professionally in Europe. According to ESPN, Oglesby's father played in Europe, and he's got dual citizenship with Norway. The dual citizenship aspect is very important, because the top European leagues all have quotas for the number of Americans you can have, and so Americans who can play under a European citizenship, like Oglesby and Nick Calathes, are a great catch.

Unfortunately, a lot of top American coaches still don't have a grasp of what is going on in Europe, and I think that's going to be a big problem in the near future. Maybe I'll talk more about this in a longer post, but you can get a sense of the problem in Oliver Purnell's quotes from the CNNSI article:

Purnell only wishes Oglesby had given him time to weigh in before choosing Europe, apparently a trendy path among some U.S. players like Florida's Nick Calathes and high school senior-to-be from San Diego, Jeremy Tyler.

Purnell has heard many good things about playing in Europe. He's also described "horror stories" of not getting paid, or getting cut suddenly.

Now, obviously Purnell needs to be given a little slack because he's miffed that Oglesby made this decision without asking his advice. But I'm surprised that he still falls for these "horror stories" myths. As I've explained before, it seems like many American basketball coaches and analysts view Europe as some third world despotic environment, where there is no rule of law and anything goes. This is idiotic, to say the least. These kids are going to play ball in Italy, Norway and Greece... not Iran. They will sign a contract, and that contract will state exactly what the payment situation will be. If the team is going to be allowed to cut them without paying the rest of their salary, that must be in the contract. They can't just change the rules of the contract ex post facto.

Now, there certainly are real issues that some American kids might not grasp. For example, travel is not nearly as glamorous, and neither are the arenas. They might not realize that they'll be staying in a lot of crappy hotels, and playing in some really small gyms. But that's a far cry from the vague "horror stories" myth that continues to dominate the landscape of American discussions of European basketball.

Americans are going to have to come to terms with the reality of European basketball before it's too late. It is a real competitor with NCAA basketball, whether we want it to be or not. You can't blame a kid for wanting to take $1 Million in Europe if it's clear that he's never going to make $100 Million in the NBA.

Additionally, it's worth noting that the loss of Oglesby is really going to be tough for a Clemson team that relied so heavily on his outside shooting. It's no secret that Purnell was going to use Oglesby's massive shooting range to help keep defenses from collapsing on Trevor Booker in the post. I don't see anybody on the Clemson roster who can fill Oglesby's shoes, although one player to keep an eye on is rising-sophomore Andre Young, the best returning three-point shooter from last year's team.

I originally picked Clemson to finish 2nd in the ACC and to earn a 2 seed in the Tournament. Obviously that will drop now. I did see a fairly big gap between North Carolina and Clemson and the rest of the ACC, so I wouldn't totally rule out the possibility of Clemson finishing 1st or 2nd in the ACC. But for now I will have to drop them to around a 4-5 seed in the Tournament.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"They will sign a contract, and that contract will state exactly what the payment situation will be."

I have heard a number of these "horror stories", where players' checks were not posted on time, payments were inaccurate, etc. However, all the stories I heard were regarding the Los Angeles Clippers, not European teams.