Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports has a story about an emerging trend in life after college basketball for some players: Aussie rules football. It seems Australia simply cannot produce enough “ruckmen”, players 6’6″ or higher who can win the jump balls that restart play and catch kicks. In response the Australian Football League (AFL) has decided to recruit from the ranks of soon-to-be-ex-college basketball players who are unlikely to make it to the NBA.
The AFL’s new American recruiting efforts might not seem to have a lot to do with Ioannis Papapetrou leaving Texas for a professional contract in Greece, but it does. Right now the AFL is targeting players who are about to graduate but what if the league starts going after younger basketball players?
Coaches have tried to clamp down on ways players leave their teams before the eligibility is up. That’s how we get proposals like eliminating all waivers. Where they have succeeded is with the NBA draft, although that success is dubious.
But there will always be players leaving for other teams, professional opportunities, even other sports. Coaches need to come to peace with this reality and stop trying to limit this area or that area. At best, it just means watching players depart some other way, maybe for an entirely foreign sport on another continent.