The Brandon Jennings Experiment

In what will undoubtably be one of the most scrutinized decision in prep sports history, 5-star point guard and Arizona signee Brandon Jennings has decided to forgo his college eligibility to turn pro. . .in Europe. While most people have been speculating that the decision is based on his trouble achieving a high enough SAT score–met the requirement on his 2nd try, but the NCAA flagged it for being a suspiciously high increase from his 1st try and he is awaiting the results of his 3rd attempt–his family asserts they have been considering going to Europe for a while because of the NBA rule that American high school players cannot be drafted until 1 year after their high school class has graduated. Lute Olson appears to be less than thrilled with the decision and has stated he will not recruit anybody who would be a one-and-done player.

While Jennings probably isn’t the 1st American-born player to go straight from high school to an overseas professional league, he certainly is the first with legitimate NBA potential. It will be interesting to see how Jennings does as it will give us a better insight into high-level college basketball versus European pro ball.

On Thursday, Jennings signed with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma of the Italian league. The deal was negotiated by Sonny Vaccaro (surprise!) and is described as a “three-year, multimillion-dollar” contract with an option for a buyout if Jennings wishes to enter the NBA Draft. Vaccaro declined to go into detail about the financials, but I’m assuming Vaccaro is shrewd enough to make sure that the buyout isn’t significant enough to affect his client’s draft stock.

I’m not that familiar with European basketball outside of a few of the major powers, which Pallacanestro Virtus Roma definitely is not (last European League title came in 1984). However, it seems like Vaccaro has ensured that Jennings is in a position to succeed by placing him with an English-speaking coach and arranging for many other things including taking care of his family.

In order to study what could become a major turning point in college basketball (players skipping it to go overseas before the NBA), we will try to provide updates and analysis of Jennings and his performance along with an attempt to translate it into how it will affect his draft stock. In the meantime, if any of you are familiar with Italian league basketball share your knowledge with your fellow fans in the comment section.


7 Responses to The Brandon Jennings Experiment

  1. Julien says:

    Interesting article. Coming off high school and playing pro ball overseas is quite rare. Maybe the first one to do so?

  2. Manco says:

    In my opinion, Jennings is taking a risk with this move. Sure, he can make a little dough playing overseas immediately, but if he should struggle it could affect his draft position a year from now. Playing at Arizona would afford him the opportunity to dominate at that level, provided he was good enough to be a lottery pick, and keep his profile high. Ultimately, I don’t think it’ll hurt the college game that much.

  3. Nik says:

    Jennings at best will make $200k-$300k in one season and that is only under the circumstance he performs. He’s taking a definite risk but if you really think about it it’s a good risk.

    Roma is an alright team, any team that plays in the Euroleague is already elite for Europe, but that’s not where Roma’s greatest asset is. Rather it is its GM that Jennings will benefit from the most. Dejan Bodiroga is to Europe what Magic was to the NBA. A legend and he will no doubt help Jennings develop.

    But if Jennings does not perform he’s contract runs the risk of being terminated and his career may end before it even starts….

  4. […] wanted to get a take in on the Brandon Jennings Experiment, as articulately described by N-Bug upon BJ’s announcement that he’ll spend his […]

  5. […] take the one-and-done guys even if it does hurt their APR. That is unless those guys start going to Europe. Cinderella getting 2 points for a 1st-round upset? Fine with this too even if we will all remember […]

  6. Keith says:

    He signed a contract overseas for 1 million a year…and he got a shoe deal with under armour…

  7. […] 4:20 PM: The New York Times has an interesting article on Brandon Jennings today. Apparently Brandon isn’t too happy in Italy. Look out for our take on this some time next week (potentially the first “Brandon Jennings Watch” update that we promised a while back). […]

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