Crean on players heading to Europe

On July 1, at the sit-down between Tom Crean and a group of reporters, I asked him for his opinion on elite college basketball players talking about going to Europe, instead of heading to college for, likely, one season. This was his response:

“I don’t have any reaction to it. I don’t. I haven’t even thought about that, that part of it. There’s always going to be different things. That’ll be the new rage. We’ll go from eighth-grade recruiting to players going to Europe. I don’t have any interest in it. We just better take care of our job and know where the players are.”  

Well, he’s apparently developed an opinion. Crean was quoted in the New York Times on Tuesday about the subject, and his response was much different.

“If people thought going to the N.B.A. was a hard adjustment at a young age, imagine going thousands and thousands of miles away,” Crean said. “You’re going to lose your support system. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”


  1. I would say both comments show that Crean is well-thought on this subject. I’ve wondered myself why players that obviously don’t have any interest in the academic side of college don’t just go play a year or two in Europe. They’d make good money and the NBA has certainly shown that it likes players from European leagues.

    But then, if these kids often can’t keep themselves out of trouble on a campus with extensive support network, could they realistically be expected to do so overseas with money and little or no support network??

    Both of Crean’s points make sense to me. Whether he considers them his opinion or not, they suggest to me that he’s a smart, sensible person who has good understanding of the ‘lay of the land’ in major college hoops these days.

  2. If Jennings goes to Europe and hurts his NBA draft status, that will pretty much end this trend. If he does fine, we will see a lot more of it.

  3. Hugh – don’t get on Crean’s bad side like Chris and Doug did with Sampson.

  4. My niece graduated with Greg Oden, She heard Greg tell some friends that he was considering going to Europe instead of OSU.

  5. Well a friend of a cousin twice removed told me that the only way to explain the on again off again talent of EJ [injury or not] would be… Point shaving! Notice he always got his 20 or so, but on the way game in and game out throwing the ball away, missing ill advised shots, and making just enough to make it look good. Only looking at the point spreads could clear this up… ‘course I never put much stock in friends of people I’m not that related to.

  6. I love coach Crean, but disagree with him entirely. Going straight to the NBA is a much harder adjustment. You are on your home turf, concerned with your ego and appearance, suddenly wealthy and around all your friends. All those sinful temptations are dangling in front of you, and there is nothing but your own fragile self-discipline to hold you back.

    In Europe, on the other hand, you find yourself suddenly immersed in a strange and intimidating land where you are no longer the big fish. Being in a different culture breeds respect and humility. You aren’t going to see guys rapping, hiring entourages and driving hummers in Rotterdam, Torino, or Frankfurt. Young American players will learn to by humble the same way that American college kids normally do when they go overseas for a semester or backback around Europe.

    I think it’s a great alternative to college and people should encourage it. The best thing for these young kids is an ego check. Live with a low profile for a few years, learn some respect, work a “blue collar” basketball job. No place like Europe for that.

  7. I think you make a good point. Even if it’s not the best route to the NBA, it may be a good route to adulthood.

  8. If the NCAA was legitimately serious about the “student”-athlete idea, then it would support such a move for those who aren’t interested in school and have no intentions on obtaining a degree. However, they only want to protect their product.

    While I love having the best players play college ball, I don’t think the one year rule does any good. Most of all, I dont see how it’s legal.

    I think HuskyTom’s comments are interesting and make a good point. While I agree mostly with the big fish comments and those things would be beneficial and aid in some of the causes he cites, they could still find a way to get in trouble. While it’s different, people in Europe party too. In a lot of ways, better and wilder. He may not be the celeb in Amsterdam that he would be in LA, but he could no doubt find fun things to do. And, good for him, if I was 19 and rich in Europe, I’d have fun too.

    Beyond that, I dont see why it’s the job of the NBA, NCAA, society, or anyone else to ensure the newly rich spend their money and time wisely. Families, friends, agents or even a NBA sponsored assistance program to help them are ideas because I realize some may need help. But, ultimately, they should be able to play where they want, spend how they want, and do what they want and take personal responsibility for the good and bad that comes.

  9. Jim – good points. Still, I just don’t feel like many, if any, of the kids would be getting into trouble like they do here. Yes, they do party in Europe, but it’s not the American athlete type of partying that usually involves guns, strippers, nightclubs, tinted limos, etc. How many pro athletes to you hear about getting gunned down or carjacked in Europe?

    And just to add to this thought, how often have you heard of Sasha Vujacic, Stojakovic, Darko, Ginobli, or Tony Parker getting in trouble with the law? these are all young foreigners who make the big leap to the USA? There seems to be a certain fear that we all seem to have of breaking the law in a foreign country.

    I also think that it is indeed partly our responsibility as a society to steer the newly rich or newly independent in the right direction, if we can. When their bad decisions affect innocent people, like James Hardy’s teammate who recently plowed into a pedestrian, we have a right to make judgments and suggest solutions.

  10. I agree mostly. I think it would reduce trouble some, but it’d still happen. I think it’s the culture many come from and consider themselves a part of (i.e.-foreign players not getting in trouble) than anything else. Some money in their pockets and a few people to roll with and it may not be a ton different no matter where they are. But, I agree the situation as a whole is probably less volatile than over here.

    I think society should try to provide those avenues, yes. And obviously when conduct effects others, criminal charges or whatever else appropriate should take place.

    But I dont think society has 100% responsibility. Many of those avenues are in place now, you can lead a horse to water…

    Ultimately I think they should be able to do whatever they want. Playing in the NBA is a job, and how they can prevent a company (team) who wants to hire an employee (player) because he’s only 18 or some other silly requirement is just ridiculous. Shows what a powerful machine the NCAA is. Wonder what they can dream up to prevent people from going overseas.

  11. Yea, if the NCAA is gonna do this 1 year thing, they need to make it like NCAA football and do the 3 year thing. Players are using college as a jump off point. They are going to enough classes to get the grades the 1st semester, and not going to class and still playing during the 2nd semester. (Maybe not all, but alot). It’s really a joke. It’s like hmmmm which college will get me the most air time for the NBA scouts? It’s gotta be all or nothing for this rule.

  12. I cannot stress enough that young men or women with no chance of succeeding in college should not be in college. Add in the pressures of big time athletics and its a license to fail. I am not saying Europe is the answer although for some it may be, but college needs to stop being a minor league.

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