When former 11-year NBA player Lamond Murray began to help his son and daughter research colleges, he came across a company named NCSA that was dedicated to helping young athletes find the right colleges for them. Murray was so impressed, he didn’t just employ their services – he became a part of their organization.
Using his experience from becoming the No. 7 pick in the 1994 NBA Draft out of the University of California, Murray speaks to young athletes and their families about how NCSA can help navigate the tricky landscape of college recruiting, finding the best fit to set them up for success.
“They provide a highlight reel, they provide a platform for these kids to be seen,” says Murray. “They connect all the college coaches with the student athletes who are associated with them, so they can e-mail back and forth. And also, they have all the rule changes that may have been instituted for the new year – basically, everything you need as a parent or a student-athlete.”
Besides his work with NCSA, Murray – who hopes to try his hand at commentary at some point – stays busy watching his children’s games and running his own company, Real Run Academy, which provides PE and fine arts classes for home-schooled kids.
I caught up with Murray on the phone from his home in California to discuss his endeavors with NCSA, his thoughts on the recently completed NBA lockout and some of his views on the current NBA.
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Dime: What kind of risks do you think families might take by not utilizing NCSA going into the college selection process?
Lamond Murray: Well, they’re going to make a lot of mistakes. First of all, they’re going to look at their kids with the “love glasses” and automatically think that they’re Division I athletes because they got a few letters in the mail. Not to take anything away from them, but those letters are now standard to everybody they feel has any potential.
So people look at those letters and say, “My kid got recruited by such-and-such because he got 10 letters last month.” They’re not really taking into account how much contact they’re having with the coach, how many people are showing up to the games, to where you can see how you’re really being evaluated and recruited. So from that standpoint alone, people get lost in the shuffle of thinking their kids are better than what they really are, and only look at the Division I option instead of D-II, D-III and the NAIA as options for their kids.
Dime: One of the talked about potential provisions of the new CBA is an alteration to the age rule to enter the NBA Draft. What do you think would benefit recruits the most: the current one-and-done rule, no rule, or something similar to baseball where you either go straight out of high school or have to stay in college a few years?
LM: You always want to give a person after the age of 18 the right to earn a living at whatever they decide they want to do. But in terms of some of the kids I’ve seen come out underdeveloped, I’d always recommend they do two or three years of college to catch up socially and emotionally, then explore the NBA as an option. I think it would be a good thing if they were to move that age limit back.
Dime: If you had been the sort of player where you were in position to be drafted high right out of high school, would you have still gone to college for a couple years?
LM: Yeah, I think I definitely would have. Even when I went pro after my junior year at 21, I could see the difference in the game in terms of development, power and strength. I felt like I needed to put more weight on and wasn’t able to compete at that level for a few months before becoming confident I could compete with guys in their 30s, grown men.
Dime: What differences do you see with the lockout that just concluded and the one while you were a player in 1998-99?
LM: Obviously, the basketball-related income is different. This new amnesty rule, where you can waive guys and not have it count against the cap – there are a lot of intricacies. When we did ours in 1998, you saw the increase from the mid-level all the way to the biggest names. We got some incentives in terms of our licensing agreement, and we got retired players looked after, as well. The agreement we had was very good for the growth of the game and the players, and we’ll see where they’re at with this one five years from now.