Congratulations to the Grandview and Lee’s Summit North boys basketball teams and the Lincoln Prep and North Kansas City girls basketball teams for earning state final four berths. It is a tremendous accomplishment. There were many talented teams that challenged them, but these four have earned it every step of the way.
This past weekend was filled with college basketball. If you are a fan of small college basketball the MIAA men’s and women’s tournament was outstanding. I have often been told by parents that their son or daughter was too good to play in a Division II or other small college program. Sometimes parents are not able to see the forest for the trees when it comes to the ability of their children.
At the risk of being politically incorrect, I would like to explain to them why in most cases their children may not be good enough to play at a small level program. Most athletes at the small school college level were the best player on their high school teams. Non-school teams promote the idea that they can get you a Division I scholarship in order to recruit top talent. For parents, that can sound like one step away from the pros and big money.
Only a small percentage of high school athletes play at the Division I level and only 2 percent of those advance to the professional level. This is not fake news; it is a fact.
Most high school players who want to play in college need to attend a smaller college. Even though a small college athlete may not go to the pros, in most cases they will still have a college education and an opportunity to succeed in life. Trust me – if you attended any of the games during the MIAA tournament, you would see how good you need to be to play any sport at any college level.
In football, small college players are very talented but are two inches shorter, 25 pounds lighter and run about 0.2 of a second slower in the 40-yard dash.
In basketball you find the same comparison. Centers in Division I will be 6-foot-10 or bigger and most of the smaller college schools have their big men come in around 6-7 or 6-8. The guards at both of the college levels are quicker than lightning, but the Division I guys are all bigger and stronger.
However, it is insane to believe that small college teams do not have gifted athletes. The athletes at the smaller schools know that 99 percent of the time they are not competing to get drafted in the pros. They play for their schools. Small college athletes let the dog eat every time they play because they know they are coming to end of their athletic careers. They play for two reasons – self-pride and for the school that gave them the opportunity to get a college education.
Parents of talented young athletes should become aware of just how good small college players are. They should attend a few small college sports events and witness the caliber of play. If you play any sport at the Division II level, you are athletically gifted. Unfortunately, average high school athletes will not be able to play. A student is very fortunate to receive a college degree with the aid of their athletic abilities.
• The time has come to start picking your NCAA Final Four brackets. Before you do, you need to take time to consider a few things:
Who is hot and playing well at the right time? What teams have major injuries? Even though we love the underdog at this time of year, the statistics show that the high-seeded teams are going to make the Final Four and the dreams of picking a dark horse team is not that likely.
March Madness is exciting because you can always hope that your bracket will be the one that has all the right picks. My four teams before the brackets come out and will change according to what part of the country the teams play in and are in no order – Gonzaga, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan.
• My quote of the week comes from American philosopher and educator John Dewey: “Education is a social process… Education is growth… Education is not preparation for life… Education is life itself.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.