With all the reports buzzing around about Durant about to declare to the League (I’m sure you can find them, ESPN, Fox Sports, they are all over) I thought it would be a good time to examine whether he should stay or go. Now I have been a firm believer that Durant was not going to declare and the he shouldn’t. My arguments were simple; a) he’s not ready yet. His frame is too small and he could easily get bullied in the League playing against grown as men with chips on their shoulder. b) I used the “This kid is staying, he loves school, he loves playing, why leave?” argument.
Then I thought to myself; what must be going in through his head. And I realized…why should he stay?
Honestly, what has he not accomplished in his freshman year? He won AP Player of the Year, the Wooden Award and was named a 1st Team All-American…as a freshman. Just so you know the significance of that, no other freshman has won Player of the Year. No other freshman has ever won the Wooden Award. And no freshman since 89 had been named to the 1st Team All-American. Also he was the only player unanimously named All-American this year. Plus he swept all six national Player of the Year honors (Baltimore Sun). Not to mention he averaged 25 and 10 and shot 40 percent from three.
(And that is a legit 40 percent…not where he just shot 14 threes on the year…he was gunning)
Right now he is a legend, arguably the greatest freshman to ever play the game based on awards and accolades. He made you watch him play the game. He captivated you in ways that only the true greats can. Who can forget the Oklahoma State and Texas A&M games? How about how he single handedly brought Texas from down 20 to beat Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament? You will not forget the moments Durant has created this year. So the question is; what individual goals does he have left? He’s accomplished almost everything possible, why stay?
Oh, I see where you’re going. To win the NCAA Tournament. To bring a Big 12 Title to Texas. To win the big one. That’s what he hasn’t accomplished right? The thing is, winning a NCAA and Big 12 title is not guaranteed upon his return and I’m sure someone let him know about that. If he were to comeback he still has to face Kansas (they aren’t going away), a rising Kansas State, Bobby Knight and Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma…you think these teams are getting worse? And they all have had a year to prepare for Mr.Durant, to think of schemes to stop Kevin Durant and to beat Texas. It is of my thinking that the Big 12 had a down year and that is not likely to happen very often. They sent 4 teams to the tournament, and its not like the rest are scrubs. Only Iowa State, Baylor and Colorado finished the season with records under .500. Coming back isn’t automatically bringing him a Big 12 title, it may make it harder. You think those teams and coaches don’t have chips on their shoulders?
And we all know how hard it is to win an NCAA Tournament. Great players generally do not get the job done, as Florida taught us this year it is the best team that raises the trophy and gets the parade in April. There have been great players that have one (Carmelo) but he had great teammates (Warrick, McNamara) and a great coach. Simple formula. Texas lost in the 2nd round this year. They have a bad coach (Rick Barnes killed their season) and he has a bad point guard (D.J Augustin). To have a great team you need complimentary players (strike one) you need a great PG (strike two) and a good coach (strike three).
Why should Kevin Durant comeback? College basketball is a grind mentally and physically. Why should he put himself through all of that to fail to win a title? Why comeback and risk having the media and scouts start to poke holes in your game (they always build them up to to break them down)? Because really, is that not all he has left to accomplish? Look at his accolades, look at his stats. He will be a successful pro there is no doubt about it. Could he use an extra year to polish his game; absolutely who couldn’t. But who is to say with no class and no extra practice that he can’t polish his game during the season? Whose to say that he shouldn’t leave and become the #1 or #2 pick, to get a ridiculous shoe deal? Why comeback to a situation that is not going to be any easier than it was last year? I’ll tell you one thing, the Big 12 certainly cannot get much worse.
So to Kevin Durant…go to the NBA. Cash in, do what you’ve got to do, I support you. You have nothing left to prove and you’re not going to win a title at Texas. So get out of there, no matter you are a legend. You’ve accomplished things no freshman has before and things that no freshman may ever accomplish. You are in the record books, this year cannot be taken away from you (unless you cheated..but you didn’t). 20 years from now, if somehow you’re a bust we’ll be talking about the ‘5 reasons why you can’t blame Kevin Durant for leaving’ or ‘Should he have stayed?’ or ‘The best freshman ever?’. Keep your legacy the way it is; no worries we will be asking if the next great freshman is the next ‘Durant’. Your legacy is intact, do not taint it. No matter what your magical 2006-2007 season will never be forgotten. Now prepare to get punked by Bruce Bowen, bodyslammed by Shaq, elbowed by Joel Przybilla and disrespected by Gilbert Arenas.
(And to you Greg Oden…you convince Conley to stay and you win the title next year. You still have a lot to prove my friend)