Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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You don’t have to read between the lines.  Thursday’s NBA draft made two things perfectly clear about the priority of basketball.  And depending on how much you value a good plan ‘B’…neither one of them are good.

I don’t know how many of you read…or are actually at home this month to read.  And some that are have told me that the content of some recent posts have been too opinionated for comfort.

But as our friend Joe B. from Florida writes…writing what you see is like driving past a fatal wreck on the interstate.  It’s no less fatal if you choose to not to look.  So this is what struck me (and most others my age) about Thursday’s NBA draft.

Granted now, I’m not a raging fan of “the league”, and particularly for what it represents.  Young, immature millionaires from hardship environments with insatiable appetites for Twitter and trash-talking are a hard sell for me.  Hard to get past that and just appreciate the basketball.  Go ahead and call me old.

But 14 of the first round choices were last year’s college freshmen, and less than 20 years old – which tells me that 1) they’re incredibly talented, and 2) that the relevancy of college basketball is worth about as much as last year’s hunting license.

If kids are going to Kentucky to play their one mandated year before declaring for the draft, you Kentucky fans out there better hope that John Calipari lives to be hundred and gets everything he wants at the snap of a finger.  Your basketball itself isn’t that good;  it’s your recruiter that reigns supreme.  And, how many titles have you won…lately?

And the sad overtone to all this is once again the value of education, and what once was the goal of every parent…a college education…has taken a gut punch that resonates clear down to the cradle.  Last night’s first round pick, Markelle Fultz, admitted later that he had dreamed of being in the NBA since the first (or second – does it matter?) grade.  He said nothing about education, just in case the dream didn’t go as planned.  NO ONE DID!

Which goes a long way towards sending the wrong message to the ‘would-be’s’ who believe they, too, can have Markelle Fultz’s dream, even though they can’t walk and chew gum.  Too much thought given to basketball – too little priority given to math an science.  He did it, why can’t I?  And indeed, why not?  One of the other first round picks admitted that he never expected to play in the NBA, much less be drafted that high.

Which brings us back to Ohio State, and the questionable state of basketball there this summer, notwithstanding the hiring of the new coach.  By all accounts the old one, Thad Matta, was a good man, a good coach, and a popular figure who lost his job because most believed he couldn’t pull off the ‘Calipari’ shuffle – that being, bring in first round talent to play for a year and then move on to the money.

And thank you D’Angelo Russell for doing just that two seasons ago, leaving Ohio State and Matta high and dry, and in an under-achieving free fall since.

sonny_inset1And isn’t it funny that it takes nearly a 4.0 GPA and a 30 on your ACT for the average kid to even get into Ohio State these days.  But the D’Angelo Russells and Ezekiel Elliotts thumb their nose at the precept of an Ohio State education, thereby doing their own part to send the wrong message about the value by leaving early for…THE MONEY!

Look, Ohio State is not the only school with a questionable state of basketball.  Look across the landscape and tell me, if you’re an average fan, next year’s projected Division I All-American team.  You can’t do it…because NCAA basketball has become a patchwork tapestry of whatever’s left after the NBA draft.  Those that recruit (not develop) the best talent will be the odds-on favorite – at least for a year.

That’s all there is to like about college basketball now.  There are few great teams…just great recruiters.

That much is very, VERY, clear!

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