After last year’s five win disaster of a season. Stephen Thompson Jr. and Drew Eubanks both declared for the 2017 NBA draft much to the surprise (and chagrin) of Beaver fans everywhere.
Almost everyone assumed both players would return to Corvallis for their junior seasons, which they did... eventually. Eubanks seemed particularly committed to the NBA draft process and took his time before deciding to return to Oregon State.
A funny thing happened though (and when I say funny, I mean terrible). Beaver fans began mocking and NBA draft-shaming Eubanks. People called him a fool, said he wasn’t good enough for the NBA, told him to go back to school and generally reacted with ignorant “hot-takes”.
Believe me, I get it! If Drew Eubanks bolted/bolts while still having college eligibility, Oregon State would be in serious trouble in the rebounding and shot-blocking department. Many argued and will continue to argue that he needs to develop a greater offensive repertoire. They’ll point out that he hasn’t even matched the numbers he put up as a sophomore (even though he’s been far more efficient).
Guess what Beaver Fans? It’s normal to be worried about the future of the basketball program. But trolling Eubanks and other college athletes who test their NBA draft prospects or decide to turn pro early is not a good look. It’s right up their with bashing recruits who don’t pick “your” school. It also shows an absolute lack of empathy for the real people who are making real decisions about their lives and have put WAY more thought into it than you ever will.
Take last years crop of college athletes for example. They were constantly reminded that around 180 underclassmen (US/International) had declared for the draft. Obviously there are only 30 first-round, guaranteed-money picks, and 60 draft slots total. What should be even more obvious though? These athletes understand the odds and know what they are getting into, your snarky social media post isn’t changing anything and it certainly isn’t ground-breaking news.
Let’s put aside our orange-colored glasses for a second and think about this logically. What are the benefits for Eubanks if he returns for his senior season? He could finish his degree (or start on a graduate degree), he would have another year to develop and try to improve his draft stock anddddd that’s it. What are the benefits of going pro? He would start making money, he would receive even better coaching and training methods and he could focus all of his efforts on improving his game instead of walking the tight-rope that is life as a student-athlete.
Let’s talk about money, since money is the driving-force behind most decisions people make. Signing an NBA contract is obviously the main goal since even inking a deal for a minimum NBA salary will award you with an absurdly high salary. Other options include signing a G-League salary or signing with a team overseas. G-League salaries are trending upwards, but are still shockingly low. The main benefit of playing in the G-League is the opportunity to earn a 10-day or two-way contract with an NBA team. Read all about G-League salaries and their earning potential here. European leagues usually offer starting contracts between $60,000 and $100,000 per year (which is certainly nothing to scoff at).
Obviously the NCAA’s amateurism model (see FBI investigation) is broken. Full-ride scholarships aren’t sufficient “payment” for top college athletes. Can you honestly say that if you were in Drew Eubanks’ shoes you would risk injury and waste a year of earning-potential to stay in Corvallis for your senior season? Eubanks is still young, he just turned 21 on Feb. 1st, but realistically he only has 10-15 years (max) to play basketball professionally. He can always finish his degree along the way or after his playing career is over.
Does Drew Eubanks have a good shot of hearing his name called during the 2018 NBA draft? I have my doubts, but here’s last year’s NBA draft report on Eubanks: (Courtesy of NBA Scouting Live)
“Drew Eubanks has been a fairly productive center on a very bad Pac-12 team. He plays the game with great energy, as he will use off-ball movement to score on hustle plays. But he may be quite raw on offense, and he will need to improve his rebounding and position defense.
Still, NBA scouts and teams generally like his athleticism and motor, and as teams have historically picked plenty of big men throughout the history of the draft, Eubanks could end up hearing his name called in the second round in 2018.”
Eubanks’ main sport growing up was baseball and he hasn’t been playing competitive basketball his entire life like many of his peers. His game isn’t as well-polished as some ‘NBA-ready’ big men, but the potential and athleticism is there. He’s going to be able to make real money playing basketball somewhere and that is something that should be celebrated. What’s best for Eubanks is what’s best for Oregon State; if they produce players that play professionally it will only help with recruiting and exposure.
Oregon State basketball is at a critical juncture. Currently they’re a .500 basketball team, but they’ve suffered a whopping 12 single-digit losses and aren’t far away from performing like a tournament team. They have just one senior on the roster, Ronnie Stacy, (two if you count Tanner Sanders) and they are adding some talented big men to the roster next season. They could use a true point guard and a little more offensive creativity, but if everyone comes back to Corvallis and stays healthy, this will be a very good basketball team.
That’s a HUGE “if” though. I think Tres and Stevie will both return to Corvallis because of their family connections. Drew Eubanks is another story, will he sign with an agent and turn Pro? I have no idea, but it’s definitely up in the air. And if he does sign with an agent and turn Pro, he’s not crazy. He’ll actually be making a very calculated and frankly smart decision for his future. Of course, you have the right to voice your displeasure on social media, but you should probably take a deep breath, understand his reasoning and earnestly wish him the best as he pursues his dreams.