Out of Obscurity

More Than Just Talent

It’s 5:30 in the morning, but he’s got one goal on his mind. The sun still rests below the horizon, but he’s got one goal on his mind. His friends and family are still asleep in their beds, but he’s got one goal on his mind. Come Friday night, while his friends go to parties and stay out late, he’s back at home getting ready for the 6 a.m. Saturday morning workout. While his friends play video games on a Saturday afternoon, he’s spending hours on the court working on his jump shot, because he’s got one goal on his mind. He knows that he has to persevere to reach the limits that he has worked for all his life. People have told him all his life that he needed to work towards more attainable goals, but he never listened. To be better than everyone else, he knows that he has to outwork everyone else, because he’s got one goal on his mind. This hardworking, goal-driven young man is ….

John Wooden once said, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” How do you judge talent? Do you judge it purely by numbers and how high they are ranked in the recruiting class? Potential and hard work are high factors when talking about talent. Take away the Andrew Wiggins of the world, because we obviously know that they have talent. Wiggins, of course, was the #1 recruit for Kansas in the 2013 class. Yes, players like these are considered the best in the country, and rightfully so. However, think of the thousands of kids that put in just as much hard work as these top recruits. Many of these players that get the chance to play college ball, that were not top recruits, play for four years. They play because they feel honored to play college ball and to represent their school. Sure, most college players don’t play in the NBA. But that’s ok, because they played their hearts out. They executed what they had set out to do since they were a young boy. They think of all the trials and tribulations that they had to go through just to get to the college level.

Several ESPN documentaries have been heart-warming stories about a young boy’s rise to the top in the game of basketball. He never let personal or family problems get in the way of his true dream. That’s what sports are all about. Playing your heart out to reach that next level is always the main goal. This is why you can’t judge talent purely on someone’s recruiting class rank. Someone that worked just as hard as a top recruit can have just as much potential as top players. If someone has been knocked down all throughout their life, who says that they don’t have just as much drive as these top recruits? Who says that someone doesn’t have just as much potential solely because they didn’t go to a well-known school? The high school someone plays at or the AAU team they play for should not be an overwhelming factor in their recruiting process, but it is.

The level of talent ranges between recruits. However, their level can change when in college. There are many examples of this happening throughout the game’s history. The pressure to win can affect a player more than most realize. You can prepare all your life for that big moment, and then freeze up when it happens. Any player can step up and be the hero, whether it be #138 recruit 6’4 Sterling Brown (SMU) or even Luke Worthington, a non-rated 3 star recruit (BYU). These two players can show just as much potential as any other recruit in college basketball.

Talent cannot be measured by recruiting rank alone. Thousands of young men spend hours upon hours on the court practicing every facet of their game. They go to every basketball camp they can just so they get a little more practice on their fundamentals. They scrape together every spare cent they can just to buy a new ball when the old one gets a hole in it. Even if a player doesn’t get to the NBA, they know that they have worked their whole life to reach the highest level that they possibly could because they strived to be better than they ever thought they could. This hardworking, goal-driven young man is the foundation of basketball, because he’s got one goal on his mind.

With the college basketball season beginning, it will be interesting to see which underdog players’ surface above the rest and which Cinderella teams surprise their conference. There is a lot of hype for this year’s incoming recruiting class and the high level of talent covers the board. From the #1 recruit through the last recruit, each player brings a wealth of talent and knowledge to the game of basketball. Each of these young men has dedicated their lives to be where they are by putting in hours upon hours on the court. They have tried to perfect all aspects of their game and it now all pays off as they enter the college stage.