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On Adu, and youth

Freddy Adu, the 14 year old soccer phenom, will make his MLS debut for DC United on April 3rd. The match will be televised on ABC at 4pm ET. Adu finished school last Friday and traveled to Charleston, SC to play his first game with United in the Carolina Challenge Cup. He scored within 11 minutes. This could be fun to watch, and United's TV schedule indicates that he'll be on a lot. Adu is the highest paid player in MLS history, and is surely worth every penny of his salary.

Ring a bell? This brings to mind Michael McCann's research which I recently referenced. McCann's analysis shows that, contrary to popular opinion, high school players drafted by the NBA are quite successful. has an interview with McCann. When asked why he wrote the article, McCann said:

I initially came up with the idea right before the 2001 NBA Draft. At the time, I had read a number of newspaper stories criticizing the ability of high school players like Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, and Eddy Curry to participate in the Draft, and how their participation was somehow harmful to both them individually and to the NBA. These stories would often say something to the effect of, "for every Kobe Bryant, there are two or three Korleone Youngs" and how history showed that high school players tended to fail in the NBA. I was honestly struck by the fact that no one seemed willing or interested to challenge this assertion, and I was curious to see if it was indeed correct. After conducting preliminary research, I soon realized that this assertion was woefully wrong, and, in all likelihood, had only become accepted as fact because it was repeated and repeated until it became recognized as such.

Question: Critics of your theory claim that a player like Korleone Young is a prime example of why a ban on high school players makes sense. How do you respond?

Michael McCann: You're right - many people regard Korleone Young as a "failure" because he was a second round pick in 1998 and only played one season in the NBA. Well, first off, bear in mind that at age 19, he earned $289,750 to play in the NBA. Had he never earned another dollar playing basketball, he could have returned to college at age 20 with plenty of money in the bank - and certainly more money than any 20 year old that I knew in college.

Instead, however, Young has continued to play basketball professionally over the past five years, earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year to live abroad and play two or three basketball games a week for eight months of the year.

Not bad for "a failure." Let them play!