The collegiate sports landscape is much different than it was just a few years ago… UCLA and USC are in the Big 10… Huh? You gotta be kiddin’… Who woulda thunk it?
Some college football and basketball players are making north of $1,000,000 through NIL deals. Some have Lamborghini car deals… F150’s are commonplace…
These previously unthinkable changes have come at breakneck speed.
So much so that, many of the key stakeholders in college sports – coaches, administrators, presidents – have yet to fully grasp their significance. One can only imagine the challenges unsophisticated high school students and their parents are facing as they navigate this highly competitive and constantly shifting landscape. Surely, they could use some good practical advice.
University of Maryland star forward, Donta Scott, has witnessed these momentous shifts first hand. Scott and the other athletes that came in 2019 with him are the “new” college ballers.
Today’s price is not yesterday’s price… Things are very different…
These new ballers have access to pure free agency. If they don’t like their role in a college basketball program, they can enter free agency through the transfer portal. This process is frictionless, an email to the compliance officer or the athletic director and, within 48 hours or so, the player is a completely unfettered free agent eligible to play immediately on another campus.
This is completely new and unprecedented… “Old” ballers could not even begin to conceive of the level of freedom afforded to today’s players.
Having navigated the NCAA eligibility process and remained on-track to graduate this year, Scott has decided to share his story in a book titled Wired Differently: My School Journey. Drawing from the lessons in his book, he shared some practical and timeless advice to 50 or so middle school students at the St. Frances Academy basketball camp.
The core of Scott’s message was clear, “If you know you are struggling to understand, get some help.”
Scott explained that he used to grapple with why he learned differently than his peers. Scott told the youth, “The journey that I had on the way up before basketball was just rough… I wasn’t in a good educational placement and it was a lot of up and down moments with my family moving a lot and just a lot of negativity in the area I lived in. There was gun violence and some of my friends were hanging around the wrong crowd. I knew I needed help in school to reach my goals. So, I asked for help.”
Right before entering high school, Donta identified a strong supporting cast that would stand by his side. The key figures were his mother, Sandra Campbell, and his AAU basketball coach, Howard Hudson. “I got in a really good high school [Imhotep Charter] with a lot of people around me, a lot of good mentors and a lot of people who tried to help me with my school and academics.” said Scott.”
Scott gave all the excited campers an autographed copy of his book. Recent Maryland commit Jahnathan Lamothe ’23 came to the book talk in support of Scott’s appearance at St. Frances Academy. The highly regarded Lamothe will join another St. Frances alum Julian Reese on the Terrapin roster in 2023. A St. Frances to Maryland pipeline seems to be emerging.
Scott was excited to meet the kids and give them a copy of Wired Differently: My School Journey. Dr. Abby Baker, a renowned Philadelphia-based psychologist and assessment expert, notes that Scott’s book is a valuable resource that “helps parents and students understand and support their children’s learning issues and behaviors by providing concrete strategies to help children reach their full potential.”
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a sector of the U.S. Department of Education, 84 percent of Black students lack proficiency in mathematics and 85 percent of Black students lack proficiency in reading skills. Scott wants these under-performing kids to seek help.
While his message was center primarily on academic issues, it is very applicable to the myriad of issues related surrounding NIL deals and the transfer portal.
“If you know you are struggling to understand, get some help.”