Commentary

College basketball's loss is NBA's gain

Updated: November 6, 2008, 3:13 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I recently read an interesting note in the transactions. The Los Angeles Lakers signed 7-foot, 285-pound center Andrew Bynum to a four-year contract extension worth an estimated $58 million.

The young man is just 21 years old. That is pretty good money for a player his age. Now think back a few years. Can you imagine what the University of Connecticut would have been like if Bynum had donned the Huskies jersey?

Bynum was supposed to go to Storrs, Conn. out of high school. Instead he went to the NBA, where the Lakers snatched him up.

Do you think Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun wonders what might have been if Bynum went to college? I'm sure the Connecticut fans are wondering as well.

You can't teach height and Bynum has a world of potential. He was out with an injury for most of the 2007-08 season. Before he was hurt, he averaged around a double-double, in the area of 13 points and 10 boards.

He has recovered now and is a vital force in Hollywood. He will be a factor in that Lakers jersey for many years.

It was a loss for college and a gain for the NBA. Of course, the rules have changed since then. If Bynum were finishing high school now, he would have had to spend at least one season on a college campus.

Financially Bynum has made out very well. Just imagine what Connecticut would have been like if Bynum was there? Think about the players who went to the NBA right from high school under the old system; I wonder what the college coaches who thought they had a future star felt when they didn't show up on campus?

They must toss and turn and think what could have been.

Imagine if there was a rule similar to baseball, where you would have to be in college for three years before going to the pros.

It's nice to dream.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.