Shabazz Muhammad, I hope you're reading this.
You too, Andre Drummond.
Both you guys are consensus top five prospects in the Class of 2012, and you've got important decisions to make. In the end, you should do whatever you believe is best, whatever makes you comfortable. But if you're looking for advice, I've got some advice: Take improper benefits.
Seriously, just do it.
(Get it? Just Do It!)
Take flights and hotel rooms, cell phones and cash. Drive a nice car, get a "recruiting advisor" who works with NBA players, grab your mother and tell her to do it, too. More than likely, you won't get caught because, well, it's just hard to prove these things. But even if you do get caught -- like Kansas freshman Josh Selby got caught -- you'll merely be asked to repay a few thousand dollars, and then you'll be reinstated before the start of league play.
The reward clearly outweighs the risk.
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That's my point.
It's also the lesson from the NCAA's ruling on Selby that was announced Friday night.
"The NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff has ruled University of Kansas men's basketball student-athlete Josh Selby must sit out nine regular season games and repay $5,757.58 in impermissible benefits to the charity of his choice. The university declared the student-athlete ineligible when it found Selby and his family accepted impermissible benefits prior to him signing an athletic aid agreement to play basketball for Kansas."
Kansas coach Bill Self responded to the announcement late Friday.
He called Selby "kind of a victim of circumstance."
Let me be clear: I agree.
Without getting too personal, Selby has not enjoyed the quality of life some of us are lucky enough to enjoy. He was raised by a single-parent mother who, far as I know, hasn't had many well-paying jobs. To call them poor might come off as disrespectful, so I won't do that. But what I can tell you is that they've never been rich, and yet they spent Selby's final two years of high school having all sorts of things tossed their direction because Selby was widely considered to be one of the nation's best five prospects, No. 1 overall according to Rivals.com.
Who in their position could've said no to it all?
Could you have done it?
Imagine never having anything because you were born into nothing, and now people are offering to pay for flights, to fill your car up with gas, to cover hotel rooms, to put you in a nice Mercedes, to send you boxes of gear, to buy some meals, so on and so forth. You know it's wrong, obviously, or at least against NCAA rules. But you also know lots of elite prospects do it and that the odds of getting caught are slim. So you accept the improper benefits for the same reason Tiger Woods accepted hostesses from Las Vegas, because they're fun and they're right in your face, and because they can, in some cases, be much more difficult to say no to than yes.
This stuff happens all the time to all sorts of prospects at all kinds of schools.
Which means Selby and his mother aren't really that unique.
They were just sloppy and careless.
That's how they ended up at the center of this mess, by being among the sloppiest and most careless mother-son duos in recent memory. After a lengthy investigation, they were caught accepting nearly $6,000 in impermissible benefits, and yet the penalty for that is only nine games. Selby has already missed three of those games; he'll now miss the next six and then be eligible to join the Jayhawks for their Dec. 18 tilt against Southern California, meaning Selby will play in less than a month and be available for the entire Big 12 schedule.
"Hopefully he can be an example for other youngsters out there moving forward," Self said, and I think the coach is probably right again. But what kind of example? That's the question I can't help but ask. In Self's eyes, what happened to Selby should show recruits the dangers of accepting improper benefits, but I see it differently. What it shows me is that there's probably about a 95 percent chance that you won't get caught if you take thousands of dollars in improper benefits, but that even if you do you'll only be sidelined till the middle of December.
In other words, it's no different than a preseason high-ankle sprain.
It just pays better.
So Shabazz Muhammad and Andre Drummond, if you're still reading this, I hope you learned a lesson.
Improper benefits are going to be offered to you.
You can turn them down if you want.
But me, I'd probably just take them.
Because the worst that can happen doesn't seem all that bad.