Open Letter to Mike Scott: Don’t Come Back

Wednesday, January 12 2011 by Ben

Dear Mike -

We don’t know each other.  I’ve been a fan of yours for some time.  I think you’re a beast on the floor.

That makes what I’m about to say very difficult: please, please don’t come back.  I’m not trying to be a jerk here, eschewing your presence to make room for some freshman.  No, no, I’m taking a page from Tom Ziller. I honestly think the best thing for you is to go somewhere and play professionally.

I know you think that you’re “not on anyone’s radar.” I’m also certain your decision will be lauded by Jerry Ratcliffe (or worse, Whitey Reid) for being “true to the school” or some other poppycock.  I’m sure you went through the official channels and had Tony Bennett’s staff check on the NBA for you and it came back that no team was looking at you.  While I love Bennett as a coach, he’s got no incentive to find new opportunities for you anywhere else.

I realize that ankle surgery is kind of scary.  Even more scary is the arduous rehab that you’ll be undergoing.  It will suck.  It would be nice to rehab with the Virginia trainers, many of whom (in my mind at least) are beautiful co-eds.

Listen to me, though, you’re 22 years old and turn 23 in July.  By the time you graduate, you’ll be almost 24.  I’d love to explain to you the concept of opportunity cost, but understand that there’s more than just money at stake.

That one year can make a substantial difference in a career.  By 24, your skills are basically set.  You’ve pretty much become the player you’re going to become. You don’t realize it now, but there are precious few years when you can play basketball at the level where you’re capable of playing.  You’re not going to learn any new skill new next year that you didn’t already know this year in college.  You need to play against better competition in this critical period, plain and simple.

You were awesome this year, averaging that double-double. I saw you upped your FT% too, no doubt the function of hard work over the summer.  You would have dominated Tyler Zeller on Saturday.  Everyone would’ve been wowed, declaring that Virginia was back, baby.  If you return, you’ll likely be named first or second team ACC.

Don’t get me wrong: from a selfish perspective, I totally want you to come back and make my team relevant, but I also think that you are one of the very few that have come through the ranks in the last two decades that could play professionally overseas and be impactful.  Not only that, you can earn some serious dough over there, while having some fun. 

So go.  Please.  Before I get upset.


Dear Old UVa

5 comment(s) and 1 trackback(s)

Backlash from Virginia fans in 3... 2... 1...

Bring it.

I don't know what Scott's potential earnings would be in Europe. I highly doubt his first deal over there is going to be a huge one. Once he establishes himself, maybe he's making high six-figures. I suspect his first deal is going to be more like 50-100k, especially coming off basically a lost season. Nothing to sneeze at, for sure, but this isn't an Andrew Luck case, where a guy is passing up 50 mil as a high first round pick. Scott is likely to have a middling career playing in 2nd tier basketball leagues, and postponing that isn't a huge loss.

Compare that with a chance to be the best player on what could be a pretty darn good UVA team next year. If he comes back and dominates, he'll prove that the injury is past him, and could be in line for a bigger check from whereever he ends up playing.

I wouldn't begrudge him if he left. He is taking a gamble, because another leg injury and his pro career is in serious jeopardy. And leaving would give him one more year of getting paid to play ball.

Like you said, Scott needs to be playing against better competition. He isn't likely to improve dramatically playing another season of college ball. But he's pretty good now, and if he comes back, would likely end up in the top 20 in career scoring, and 3rd or 4th in rebounds. There is some value in that, maybe not monetary value, but certainly pride and historical relevance. Plus, he'd never have to pay for a drink again in Charlottesville.

But... the point still is, if he comes back from injury and dominates in college, I don't think it proves anything to scouts and he loses a year of both getting better and earning cash.

I'll use two guys to prove my point: Toney Douglas and Brandon Roy. I'm not saying Mike is on par, talent wise with either of those two, but hear me out.

Douglas was unstoppable his senior year. Just absolutely sick, but the dude was 24 (25 by draft day). The point is... he should've been unstoppable and scouts knew this. Despite his talent, he was taken late in the first round. He's a decent pro certainly, but he is who he is now.

Look at Roy a guy who was absolutely great in college and was drafted after his senior year after a few injuries (like Scott). He peaked two years ago and earned a great extension, but... he's got arthritic knees. His best ball is behind him. Don't you think he would've loved to have an extra year of salary? He would've been drafted somewhere in the 1st round if he'd left early and proved himself and earned an even larger contract.

It's easy to point to pride and historical value, but I'd rather have the $100K in my pocket, personally. That will purchase a lot of drinks at Coups or wherever.

I completely agree with you on the point that Scott isn't going to get any better in college. His NBA chances aren't going up, and his initial earning potential in Europe probably won't change much either.

The difference between Scott and your two examples is that those guys are NBA players, cashing NBA checks. So while the upside of staying is about the same for Scott and Toney/Brandon, the downside is less. The loss of a year of NBA ball isn't the same as the loss of a year of playing in Turkey.

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