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Should I stay or should I go? This is a question the top college basketball players have been wrestling with for years. The choice between staying in school and declaring for the NBA draft is a life changing decision. The NBA used to allow you to go straight from high school to the pros, but in 2005 they made a rule stating that high schoolers are no longer eligible for the draft. Now you have to have at least one year of college. But is this enough?

What do you really learn in one year of college? You take a few general education courses, maybe some business classes. These young men are not ready to be overnight millionaires. According to the Huffington Post, 60% of NBA players are broke five years after they retire. This is astounding when you consider how much money they make.

These players need to know how to take care of their money before they become part of the statistic. I think colleges need more classes on finance and investing your money the right way. Most of these players come from poor families and do not understand how to properly take care of their money. They sign their contract and the next minute they are buying houses, Ferraris, and jewelry.

NBA great, Shaquille O’neal, had a business strategy that has kept him rich long after his retirement. He would put 50% of his paycheck in the bank, 25% of it into investment, and then the remaining 25% was to be used on whatever he wanted. This strategy has made him a very rich man.

Another reason to stay in school is for the degree. First of all, most of the players who are good enough to play in the NBA are getting free tuition. According to USA Today, in addition to tuition “players receive benefits including: elite coaching; academic counseling; strength and conditioning consulting; media relations assistance; medical insurance and treatment; free game tickets; and future earnings power that comes with some college education.” On average, it is estimated a division one athlete’s scholarship is equivalent to 120,000 a year. Secondly, it is no guarantee that these players will have long playing careers, but what is guaranteed is that a degree will help them get a job after their playing career is over. The average NBA player’s career is only three years. Having a degree allows the NBA player to grow professionally after his playing career is over and will help him manage his money in a smart and successful way.

The argument against staying in school is the risk of injury. If a player suffers a serious injury, his draft stock with plummet. The “worry” scenario is that a guy is a first round pick, but chooses to stay in school and then he gets an injury the next year that will cost him millions because he didn’t come out of school when his stock was highest. The chances of this are slim, but still something worth thinking about.

Given all this information, it is obvious that the pros outweigh the cons in the debate over completing a four year degree before entering the NBA, but what makes the country great is the freedoms we enjoy. In the end, it is the player’s choice to decide what they want to do and how they want to spend the money they make. Even after looking at the data, I think I would jump at the chance to leave school and play in the NBA.

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