Tim Duncan spent all four years at Wake Forest, going back to school when he was the clear No. 1 pick in the draft, because he had promised his mother he would finish his degree.
He helped NFL legend Peyton Manning go back for his senior year at Tennessee, something Manning told Peter King for his Monday Morning Quarterback podcast (hat tip Pounding The Rock).
“I knew I could be even more prepared for the NFL if I stayed on for my senior year…I talked to Tim Duncan, I saw him at a college basketball game that year. He had stayed for his senior year, which was kind of against the norm, and he just said, “Hey look, I wanted to be a senior, I wanted one more year to get ready,” so that kind of let me know that it was OK….I just really wanted to be a senior in college. It was by far the best decision I ever made.”
It sounds like Manning was looking for validation for what he already wanted to do. Duncan could give him that.
In the NBA, I doubt we ever see again a superstar like Duncan — who Jerry West wanted to draft as a sophomore and junior — spend four years in college. The elite guys want to get to the league fast (and that’s not going to change if there is ever movement on the age limit). Staying in school is not a decision that works for everyone.
It’s a decision that worked out for Duncan. And Manning.