There's no doubt that Boston College junior Reggie Jackson has the talent to play in the NBA. The 6'3", 203-pound guard from Colorado Springs, CO is just as capable of driving to the hoop as he is pulling up for a deep three.
Yet just because one has the talent doesn't mean they should go to the league's top stage as quickly as possible.
In Jackson's case, there are solid arguments to be made on both sides of the debate. In the end, the decision will be made by Jackson alone, but in the meantime, that won't stop us from taking a look at the pros and cons of the decision.
It's The World's Biggest Stage. If you grow up loving and playing the sport of basketball, there's only one place you dream about going: the National Basketball Association. Reggie has been presented with that rare opportunity, and he only has a limited time to grab it. Barring a severe injury, he will most likely have another shot at the NBA Draft next year if he returns to BC, but you just never know. Jackson is healthy now, and has a chance to play in the best basketball league the world has to offer. Why chance it?
(Supposedly) Weak Draft Class I've heard rumblings that this year's draft class in on the weaker side. Then again, I think I've heard that about every draft at points (except the 2003 NBA Draft -see: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Kendrick Perkins, etc.). But if this year's draft class really is weak, that's a plus for any prospective NBA player, Jackson included. Jackson could move from the second round up to the late first round if this is truly the case.
Money, Money, Money! As much as you and I love college basketball, let's face it: these student athletes aren't getting money for doing it. (Well, they aren't supposed to be getting money to do it, but they probably are). At the very least, they aren't getting the money that even the worst of the worst NBA player are making. If someone is willing to pay a player as terrible as Darko Milicic a grand total of $42,160,062 (his total income in the NBA since 2003), I bet Jackson would be in pretty good shape. Jackson won't make Milicic money, at least right off the bat, but he could find himself making several hundred thousand dollars, if not a million dollars, in his first few seasons in the NBA. If he stays at Boston College, he won't make that (at least next season). Plan and simple.
Boston College On The Downslide It's still too early to know for sure, but it looks like BC won't be putting out a stellar roster for the 2011-2012 men's basketball season. On that front, Jackson makes or breaks the deal. If Reggie returns, the Eagles could be relatively competitive in the ACC. If he doesn't, expect a season next year similar to Wake Forest's campaign this year. That alone could be enough to scare Jackson away.
NBA Lockout Looming? Perhaps the biggest deterrent in Jackson's decision is the looming lockout in the NBA. While it hasn't received the same amount of press that the NFL Lockout has, there is a real possibility that we may not have an NBA season in 2011-12. Unfortunately, there is nothing Jackson can do on this matter. If he chances it and enters the draft, and there is a lockout, Jackson won't be able to return to the Boston College basketball team and may be forced to play overseas like former Eagles Troy Bell and Tyrese Rice. However, there still is a good chance that there will be a season next year. Who knows? It's completely up in the air.
No Guarantees In The Draft. In the same way that there's no guarantee there will be an NBA season next year, there is no guarantee that Jackson will be drafted at all. While many experts claim to know what's going on in the NBA Draft world, they are never completely accurate. Jackson certainly has the talent to play NBA ball, but so do many other college players. That's why so many players enter the draft. Jackson could have his name called on draft night, or he may not. Just like a possible lockout, it's a gamble.
NBA D-League Blues. The NBA D-League is intended to be a place where NBA prospects can learn the game and grow as players, but in some ways, it could very well be perceived as exile. If a player is drafted and isn't good enough to play at an NBA level, they will almost certainly be sent to the minor leagues of the NBA. In Jackson's case, it all depends on which team drafts him and the players on that team. For example, if he were drafted by the Celtics prior to this season, he would have most likely been playing up in Maine. But if drafted by Cleveland, he may have a shot at a roster sport. Yet again, its a gamble that he can't control. So the question is: would you rather player one or two seasons in the NBA D-League making less than $30,000 per season or stay in college for one more year, hone your skills and try to improve your standings in the draft.
There's Only One Shot. Be Prepared. As I said in the pro-draft section, every ball players dream is to play in the NBA. That being said, you generally have only one chance to make it in the league. If you aren't ready, the league will eat you alive and you probably won't get another shot. Knowing that, you want to be as prepared as you possibly can before entering the NBA Draft. While Jackson is a good talent, only he truly knows if he is 100 percent ready to play in the Association. If he truly is, then by all means, go. But if he isn't another year at Boston College will only help.
THE VERDICT: Jackson has until May 8th to withdraw his name from the 2011 NBA Draft pool, but upon reviewing the pros and cons, I would probably lean towards him leaving Boston College and staying in the draft pool. The potential benefits of playing in the NBA outweigh the uncertainties that lie ahead. Jackson should be able to help quite a few NBA teams, even if it takes a few years for him to develop.