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The year was 1994. I was eight years old. And, inexplicably, I was upset. Melvin Booker somehow didn’t get drafted.
I didn’t know at the time what it really meant. I just remember seeing his photo in the newspaper the next day. He looked so sad. The Charlotte Hornets were supposed to take him, but instead they drafted Darrin Hancock, a mediocre player from Kansas of all places. It made no sense to me then, and it still doesn’t today. I couldn’t help but feel depressed.
In today’s issue of Vox, I examined the numbers when it comes to MU in the NBA. Typically, numbers are neutral. Emotionless. But for me, writing that story was heartbreaking. For most of my 26 years, I’ve been a basketball fan, and the careers of my favorite players rarely extend much beyond four seasons (at least as far as my ability to watch them goes). The story was a harsh reminder of what should have but, unfortunately, hasn’t been.
Tonight, Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe look to change that. I don’t know how the draft will play out. The NBA’s proven to be nothing if not unpredictable, at least when it comes to draft night. My hope is that they all make it. I’m confident that if given a chance all three have something to offer an NBA roster.
My years as an MU fan have taught me to always look toward the future. MU alumni rarely find success in the NBA, but the beauty of college athletics is that you get a new crop of student-athletes to support every season. Even if none of the outgoing seniors get drafted, there’s always the promise of next year. MU adds nine new faces next year (10 if you count the return of Laurence Bowers, and 11 if you also count Eric Moeller, a walk on from St. Louis). Odds are none of those nine (or 11) will go on to NBA stardom. The next Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant probably won’t reside in Columbia next year. But there’s always hope that just maybe, someday MU’s fate will change.
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