Politician's swipe at player irks Hewitt

Updated: June 5, 2009, 1:45 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt is demanding an apology from a congressman who was quoted as suggesting that former Yellow Jacket Thaddeus Young wasn't fit to attend college.

Young played one season at Georgia Tech and hails from Memphis, which is part of Democratic congressman Steve Cohen's district.

Cohen was quoted recently in The New York Times as saying: "[Young] could have gone straight to the pros. I don't think he's going to be an engineer. It's just kind of a mockery."

Cohen had written a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern asking him to repeal the NBA's requirement that a player be 19 years old and one year out of high school to be allowed in the NBA draft. Young played one season at Georgia Tech before declaring for the 2007 draft. He was selected with the 12th pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.

"For him to say it's a mockery, he owes Georgia Tech and Thaddeus Young an apology," Hewitt said. "Thaddeus was a 4.0 student in high school [Memphis' Mitchell High] and didn't play AAU summer ball before his senior year" because he was concentrating on his academics.

"Thaddeus told me he went to college to help grow, mature, and for him to suggest that a kid [wasn't into academics] from his own district who was one of the best students to come out of Mitchell High School that year is really disappointing.

"This really proves the ignorance people have on this issue because he has a specialized skill and has an opportunity that the majority don't have and he suggests that education isn't important to them? There are people here at Georgia Tech who have a specialized skill and talent in computers who leave early. My thing is that people make it seem that basketball is the cause of any of the academic issues and it's ignorant. It has nothing to do with basketball. It's a cop-out by someone who is charged by the public to improve their lives. It has nothing to do with basketball."

Hewitt's position is that the education system, not individuals who leave college after one season to declare for the NBA draft, needs to be examined for failings.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers men's college basketball for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com