Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When In Rome.....

An article I wrote for SAB titled, When In Rome, Do As Brandon Jennings Does.  

After reading many articles including ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard’s on Brandon Jennings‘ progress in Rome, along with checking out Jennings’ blog, When In Rome, you can certainly see why Jennings will be a lottery pick in 2009.  He has clearly matured as a player already and will only get better until he makes him move back across the Atlantic into the NBA.

In a previous post, I described the predicament that Jennings was in.  Brandon Jennings was the first prep to pro basketball star from North America to play in Europe.  Because of low SAT scores and the coaching turmoil at Arizona, he decided to forgo playing college ball and headed to play professionally for Virtus Roma.

Jennings’ flashy play and high top hair cut attracted enough attention, but this unprecedented move to play in Italy for millions caused many to question Jennings.  Others thought he could be a trend setter for many future young players, who because of the NBA’s “one and done” college age restrictions, would rather make go overseas and make millions instead of playing one year of college ball.

jenningsx-largeJennings signed with Roma for $1.65 million, but has a buyout clause in his contract that would allow him to leave after each season if he were to pursue his NBA dream.  Jennings has said multiple times that this the NBA is a definite for him.  He will likely leave Italy after this season and become an NBA lottery pick in 09′.  Many scouts and coaches have compared him to the Spanish star Ricky Rubio, who played in the same league. Comparisons to Europe’s best is great for Jennings, however players who have guarded both say that Jennings is even better than Rubio at 18.

Jennings and all his flash and hype came to Italy with high expectations.  He was soon humbled, where the real Brandon Jennings finally emerged.  His first week at practice in Italy, Jennings was kicked out of practice for “slacking” on his cuts during practice when going over the new plays.  Jennings was stunned and amazed.  He could act any way he wanted at practices in high school, but not in Europe.  After a conversation with Ray Allen, he quickly regained his composure and was able to step it up, giving himself and his teammates the confidence they needed in their million dollar point guard.

From that day forward, Jennings has continued to improve physically in the weight room and mentally with his decision making on and off the court.  And although he still spends a  lot of money of thousand dollar Gucci and Dolce backpacks and bags, he is learning the Italian culture and emerging as a potential NBA leader in the future.

Jennings’ personality really doesn’t match his flashy hair and upbeat style of play on the court.  He is a momma’s boy at heart and really only associates with his brother, mother and teammates in Italy.  It appears that Jennings is getting a real education overseas, and will surely be better off because of it.

brandon_jennings014bwGoing overseas instead of attending college has its ups and downs, and although many others might not choose the route “Young Money” has taken, his voyage will certainly shed light unto the the rest of us.  We can see if and how many others follow in his shoes.

Visit Jennings blog, When In Rome to check out the latest updates on Brandon Jennings and how he is progressing in Italy.  His blog addresses the latest on-court issues, along with features such as his favorite music, movies, and the newst Under Armour gear.

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