My gut was that C.J Fair decided to return to Syracuse after meeting with his family over the weekend. Now Mike Waters of the Post-Standard is reporting that’s exactly what happened.
“The source said that as recently as last week Fair was ready to give up his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. However, after visiting with his family in Baltimore, Md., over the weekend, Fair had reversed his thinking. He would return for his senior year.”
Now Waters says Fair’s decision is back up in the air.
“But in the past 24 hours, Fair has hesitated to make an announcement because he’s still not certain of his decision.”
Look, I don’t begrudge any player for looking at his financial future, and basing a decision off of that. If I was guaranteed a high-paying job at my profession after junior year, I’d have to think long and hard about leaving the comfort of college too. A legendary story told in the Newhouse School, my alma mater, is of Bob Costas. Professors and students speak in awed, hushed tones of Costas never graduating because he left for the play-by-play job of the ABA’s St. Louis Spirits. An impossibly rare chance for a 21-year old, even in the early 70’s.
But unless you’re guaranteed a first-round draft spot, or need immediate financial assistance for your family, leaving early is fool’s gold. Yes, there’s the opportunity to make money – something you can’t do at school. But you’re also forgoing a final season where you can improve your draft stock (and finish off the degree). And it’s not a check waiting for you on draft night. It’s an opportunity at the check. Fair projects by most as a second-round selection.
Let’s look at Kris Joseph’s journey. His eligibility was over, and he was taken in the second round of the draft by the Celtics last year. He competed in summer league and training camp, then made the team to begin the season. He was waived by the C’s in January, after just two months on the squad. He had to hustle in the D-League, just to get a 10-day contract with the Nets to end the season.
Most NBA 10-day contracts are between $35,000 and $50,000. Good money for Costas with the Spirits in ’73. But it’s rent for the second-to-last pick of last year’s first-round, Marquis Teague of the Bulls. From the Chicago Tribune:
“Teague ultimately signed a deal for 100 percent of his slotted salary in the first year, or $857,000, sources said. The following three years are at the 120 percent slotted salary.”
I like Fair, I like his game, I like his attitude and willingness to do anything. I like that he was the best player for the Orange when it mattered most in Atlanta. I don’t like choosing $35k and the grind of 10-day contracts over almost $4M guaranteed. Sure, there’s always the chance you get hurt senior year. But chasing the instant gratification of a second-round spot is short-sighted, when it’s clear he would be the focal point of a young team next season, and have 35 games to improve his stock into a first-round pick.