More Freshmen Leaving For The NBA Than Ever Before

SPECIAL NOTE:  This blog is dedicated to a consummate pro who had a pure radio voice that was honest, calm, fun when it had to be, and most of all–sincere.  In a June 2010 blog post on the website of popular Chicago rock radio station, this longtime disk jockey who helped start a popular program called ‘Saturday Morning Flashback’ had this to say on why she loved doing the job:

“Imagine, picking a bunch of great songs of a certain year from the amazing XRT archives, closing the studio door, and cranking it up! That’s what I get to do every Saturday, and I love it.”

Today (Saturday, June 24) marked the final day for longtime radio personality Wendy Rice as she announced her retirement after 39 years in radio, the last 35 consecutive of them spent in Chicago after doing a brief stint in downstate Peoria.  Growing up in Champaign, Illinois–Rice cut her teeth both writing and producing a 15 minute weekly show devoted to high school sports.  When she interned for WXRT–then a progressive rock station in 1978, she admitted that, “I only signed up for a few weeks, but did not know I would be there my whole career.”

My memories go back as far as March 1998 while stumbling through the digits on my digital stereo, as she would highlight the top songs on that year’s Listener Poll, along with dropping in tidbits on pop culture, top movies, news headlines, and other odd/cool things from 1988.  The following month, 1989 premiered and the fun times were just beginning for four fun filled hours to fill up every Saturday morning.

Each Wednesday, I would usually check their website in the Programming Highlights section to see what year would be coming up for the following weekend.  If it is any year from the 1980’s, I was definitely listening–even for a few minutes doing my weekly errands away from the computer.

If they were featuring a year from 1967 through 1979 or anything from 1991 on, I would be doing other things.  But this morning, Wendy dedicated her final show from the year she began as an intern in 1978 by simply saying to her fans:

“Carry on.  And I will definitely be listening to ‘Flashback’, done by the very capable hands of Johnny Mars and Frank E. Lee.”

I will admit, having the four hour block is excellent for any painting parties you might be having–whether it is fixing up a few rooms or an entire house.

And figuring with most of our general attention spans being the size of a pea, the show will be truncated starting on July 1 to three hours:  9 a.m. to noon if you are listening with the TuneIn or CBS Radio apps in Eastern time, 8 to 11 a.m. in Chicago.

I wish to take this brief opportunity to thank WXRT for giving us the immense talents of one Wendy Rice, a true pro all the way in every sense of the word.

Who knew that during her time away from the radio, she would use her voice in an entirely different era–as a middle school teacher.

Next stop for Wendy Rice, hopefully her name will come up for possible enshrinement in the National Radio Hall of Fame.  She definitely deserves it.

And the other reason I wanted to thank WXRT Radio, you have given me full permission to spend that 11 a.m. hour and beyond with your corporate cousins over at CBS Sports so I can enjoy the football factory that is SEC college football in the fall and more college basketball during the winter months.


Back to the main point in this blog:

On Thursday evening at the annual NBA Draft, a record 16 freshmen were selected by NBA teams.  Only two seniors were chosen.

As Jalen Rose said during the telecast,

“We are choosing players on potential.  It used to be, we would draft players based on performance.  That is no longer the case.”

Two names immediately come to mind, Frank Mason III of Kansas and Josh Hart of Villanova.  Great players in college, I get that.  Had they been playing in 1987, they would have been in the top 10.  Instead, they went late in the first round as the likes of Markelle Fultz of Washington and Zach Collins of Gonzaga impressed scouts at the Draft Combine in Chicago to become Top 10 picks.

This era of ‘one and done’ is certainly not working.  Players continue to follow the money and colleges are suffering a bit with the fact that their ability to get degrees on time has largely taken a back seat.

I have a simple question:  What happens if that player makes a cut to the basket and is fouled hard, either ruining their ACL, MCL, back, or foot in the process?  Players today need to be educated big time on the complex puzzle we simply call life.

Can the players sustain themselves financially if their playing days suddenly come to an end?  Can the NCAA and NBA ever come to a consensus that a minimum two years staying in college help improve at all levels of the sport?

Kentucky would be number one in the polls this coming November if Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox decided to stay in school.  Instead, John Calipari will be hard at work trying to teach the youngest group ever in Kentucky basketball history.

As you will see in my next few blogs, the non-conference schedule for November and December has a lot of cupcake games in them.  Same for fellow blue bloods in Kansas.  Whatever happened to creative scheduling so the Selection Committee can give those schools an extra incentive to getting higher seeds in the NCAA Tournament, instead of just skating by with a 10 or 11 seed and being sent to Dayton to play in the first four set of games.

And what happened to great note takers?  I am sure many ladies reading this blog know exactly what I am talking about.  I recall reading a few studies during the late 1990’s and it simply said that the people who took great notes while in school would land successful and profitable careers, while those who took below average notes mostly have struggled to find decent paying work.

Hopefully, something can be done with the administrations and athletic departments in each of the Power 5 conferences to make the game better and keep most of their key stars at least for three full seasons.  This way, the NBA would benefit on getting character guys and use their time with handling the rock as not only their primary focus.


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