Kobe Bryant covered this already, the college-basketball system isn’t great for players. Run as a cartel, the NCAA often forces players into tough and unfair situations.
Tony Snell found himself in one of those situations last year.
Having played three years at New Mexico, Snell was ready to turn pro. His coach, Steve Alford, was not ready for that.
In a wonderful story about Snell’s tight-knit relationship with his mother, Sherika Brown, Daniel Libit of ChicagoSide captures one instance that bond showed:
According to Brown, when Alford heard Snell was leaning to the NBA, he angrily called a meeting with player and mother.
“Alford, of course, is a control freak and he is mad as hell and he wants a meeting with me to know what I am doing with Tony,” Brown says.
“We were having a screaming match, him literally telling me he is not going anywhere, saying ‘What if he doesn’t make it?’ First of all, I have a positive attitude. I am a woman of God. I believe in prayer. I have had (Snell’s) back since day one.… I don’t care if he goes first or second round, or if he goes overseas, we are going to take that chance.”
Brown inferred selfish motives in Alford’s efforts . Alford was the brand-name player, the white All-American with the charmed high school and college careers. He played his senior year at Indiana and ended up getting drafted in the second round.
“I called him a [m***f*****] at the time,” says Brown.
“My attitude was: I know it’s a gamble, a big gamble, and sometimes you might not make it,” says Brown. “But we were adamant that we were fine with going in the second round or [playing] overseas.”
Did Alford have Snell’s best interests in mind? Or did the coach just want to keep his best player in order to win more and secure a larger contract? Snell knows as much as can be known, and that’s the problem:
“I have no idea,” says Snell. “That is the question that is going to be unanswered, but he made his move and I wish him the best.”
Snell, of course, did go pro and was the No. 20 pick by the Chicago Bulls. He’s now playing in a league where coaches don’t last unless they treat their players with respect.
As for Alford, he jumped from New Mexico to UCLA just after agreeing to a 10-year contract, a move that followed Alford leaving Iowa for New Mexico under a could of controversy.
In college, it seems only the coaches are allowed upward mobility.
In the NBA, everyone has a great control of their own future.
If Snell’s coach, Tom Thibodeau, wants to coach the Knicks, Thibodeau can make that happen in due time.
In a couple years, Snell will be a free agent, and he’ll have greater power of his future, too. And – if you read all of Libit’s article, as you should – you also know Snell will have his mother at his side during that process, too.