I’ve always been fascinated by where players who entered the NBA directly from high school would have gone to college. No matter how successful the player became, the “what if?” aspect intrigues me.
- LeBron James – Ohio State
- Kobe Bryant – North Carolina
- Kwame Brown – Florida
- Kevin Garnett – Michigan
- Tracy McGrady – Kentucky
And in this alternate reality, McGrady might have had a pretty good teammate at Kentucky – Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki claims Kentucky as his team despite never enrolling in a class or playing a minute of college basketball. That’s because he would have been a Wildcat if he hadn’t opted to declare for the 1998 NBA draft.
“It would have been a great time,” Nowitzki said. “They showed me around. I met some of the players. Scott Padgett was my host. I went to dinner with Tubby [Smith]. He was the coach back then. Holger wore his leather jacket to dinner, so everything was great.
“I visited in ’98, so they just won [a national title], so that would have been obviously a great program. But I decided to go straight pro and was lucky. You never know what’s going to happen. I think a year of college or two was going to be great, but the way it worked out here was awesome.”
It’s a pretty good year to be a Kentucky fan and even better year to be a Kentucky fan in Dallas. Behind future lottery pick Julius Randle and multiple other potential first rounders – Willie Cauley-Stein, James Young, Alex Poythress, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison – Kentucky has reached the Final Four at Jerry’s World in Arlington.
Kentucky plays Wisconsin on Saturday night, and if the Wildcats win, they’ll play for the national title Monday. But the Mavericks are on the road – at Clippers on Thursday, at Lakers on Friday, at Kings on Sunday and at Jazz on Tuesday – during the Final Four.
Nowitzki, via MacMahon:
“They screwed us over,” Nowitzki said. “We’re basically out of town the whole weekend. That’s unfortunate. I looked at the schedule obviously knowing that the Final Four was going to be here. We for sure would have gone one day, the whole team probably, so that’s disappointing.”
I suspect, if his Wildcats win it all, he’ll get over it.