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Jun 22 2016
by Zach Lang

Freshman Year To NBA Pro - Is It Worth It?

By Zach Lang - Jun 22 2016

It’s official. According to ESPN, Ben Simmons has been told he will be selected number one overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons, a freshman out of LSU, is now the latest addition to a long trend.

The team worked Simmons out privately on Tuesday, the first and only workout Simmons has done leading up to the draft. -ESPN

Simmons will be the seventh straight freshman selected number one overall in the NBA draft. The players elected before him have fared well in the NBA thus far, including Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall. Anthony-Towns won the Rookie of the Year award for the 2015-16 season and Kyrie Irving recently won his first career NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers beside LeBron James. However, not all freshmen selected number one are guaranteed success.

Among those seven straight drafted freshmen is Anthony Bennett, the first ever Canadian to be drafted number one overall in the NBA. His career in the NBA is currently hanging by a thread after just three years. He has been in stints with the Cavaliers, Timberwolves, and Toronto Raptors, but has yet to find his stride as he is now a free agent. This is proof that leaving college extremely early for NBA fame does not always result in a rewarding outcome.

The number one overall draft pick is not even the largest of concerns, as there are still 59 other picks in the draft, many of whom will be selected players coming off their freshman year of college as well.

One of those is number two overall prospect Brandon Ingram out of Duke, who is expected to be drafted after Simmons to the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year’s draft saw two freshmen being drafted directly after Anthony-Towns: D’Angelo Russell to the Lakers and Jahlil Okafor to the 76ers. Out of the first 15 selected, 9 total were freshmen. The 2014 draft even had the first four picks as all freshmen out of college.

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If this trend continues, Simmons and Ingram will not be the only freshmen selected early on. Many freshmen who leave college early and are selected throughout the first round of the draft do not have huge impacts in the NBA immediately, or ever in some cases. Joel Embiid, for example, was selected third overall in 2014 as a freshman out of Kansas and has yet to play a minute in the NBA due to foot injuries. Other examples include Fab Melo and Tyler Ennis out of Syracuse, Noah Vonleh out of Indiana, and Archie Goodwin out of Kentucky. Granted, there is still plenty of time for their careers to turn around.

The best of luck is wished to all who seek prosperous careers in the NBA. However, the question remains: Is leaving college early to seek professional glory truly worth it? As for Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, only time will tell.   

Lead Image Credit: Javi Magdiel Fernández and TiVo_epaper via 

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Zach Lang - Syracuse University

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