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Every year during the NFL, MLB, and sometimes even NBA Draft, we see a number of former junior college athletes selected. Although some people think that junior college sports do not have as much talent as other divisions, there is Division I talent at a lot of these schools.
The thing that makes junior colleges so diverse from all other divisions is what these schools do for kids. People go to junior colleges for numerous reasons: the cost of school, not knowing what they want to major in, grade issues, etc. These, among other reasons are all examples of why most people choose junior college. We’ve seen such a false narrative over the years that junior college isn’t as good as a four-year school.
“Junior college baseball helps pave a more helpful route for athletes that first, cannot afford to go to a Division I or II school,” CCBC Dundalk pitcher Nate Griffin said. “Secondly, they don’t have the grades for a Division I or II school, so they decided to go the JUCO route to help better their education and use the closer one-on-one time with their professors to excel in the classroom.”
For a lot of big-name athletes, junior college is usually their second chance. They’ll usually transfer there after having issues at their previous program. Some athletes also just do not have as much experience and one or two years at a junior college will give them everything that they need. If a coach see’s an athlete already prove they can take care of everything in the classroom and on the field at a junior college, then they’ll definitely trust the athlete when recruiting them to that school. Students also have a much better chance of getting playing time at a junior college versus playing at a four-year school as just a freshman.
“The JUCO route gives kids a chance to play professionally because it gives them more time to develop to the best of their ability,” CCBC Dundalk middle infielder Nick White said. “Not everyone is Division I, Division II, or Division III material out of high school, but that doesn’t mean they should just give up. JUCO sports are some of the most competitive in the country just based off of pure love for the game while giving the athletes more time to get to that higher level and maybe even get a chance to play professionally from there.”
In the 2020 NFL Draft, we saw five former junior college athletes selected in the first three rounds of the draft. These kids spent time getting it right in the classroom and on the field and then transferred to a four-year program where they were drafted from. All of these kids trusted the process and trusted the junior college route and it worked for them.
We even saw Jay Scrubb, who was a point guard at John A. Logan College, declare for the draft out of junior college. Scrubb was selected 55th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. He was originally committed to Louisville, however he decided that going to the NBA was the best choice for him. We typically don’t see many athletes declare for the draft straight out of junior college. However, the times are changing, and we could begin to see way more of this in the future.
Another player most basketball fans know who attended a junior college was Jimmy Butler. Prior to playing at Marquette, he played at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He is now one of the highest paid NBA players in the league.
“Everybody can hoop in JUCO," Eric Boone, Scrubb’s former teammate, said in an interview with theScore.com. "It's just people didn't have the grades, or they wanted to take another route. I feel like he would have done the same thing in college as he (did in) JUCO."
Athletes nowadays seeing players at junior college play professional sports will definitely open their minds to the reality that this could happen for anyone.
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