By Hayden Kulick
Non-Division I college athletes don’t get the respect they deserve.
Every year all of the four major American sports have drafts where they get to choose athletes from college (and in some cases high school) and turn them into professionals. In these drafts we rarely see anything other than top high school talent and Division I athletes be taken.
In the MLB First Year Player Draft we occasionally see Junior College athletes get taken and some amazing players have come from it.
Craig Kimbrell attended Wallace State Community College and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves twice, once in 2007 and then again in 2008. He has since become an eight time All Star and has solidified himself as one of the best relief pitchers to ever play the game of baseball.
One of the best first basemen of all time was also a junior college student when he got drafted.
Albert Pujols was drafted in round 13 of the 1999 draft out of Metropolitan Community College. After his debut with the Saint Louis Cardinals, Pujols hit the fourth most home runs by any major leaguer ever.
Baseball isn’t the only sport that JUCO athletes get drafted to.
Six time NBA champion Scottie pippen attended Central Arkansas back when it was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
All-NBA Small forward Jimmy Butler attended Tyler Junior College before transferring to Marquette University.
Nick Symmonds is a two time Olympian in the 800-meter run that attended NCAA Division III Willamette University.
While Division I universities without a doubt produce more talent than all the smaller schools, that doesn’t mean that all these elite level talents should go unnoticed.
Since the NBA put a stop to high schoolers getting drafted in 2007, a lot of the fans and media have been arguing that the league should allow it again. I too believe this, but that also begs a question. What is stopping NBA teams from drafting junior college athletes?
Many would say it’s because of the lack of competition that they face, but that simply is not true. If anything, high school players face this issue.
High school games consist of almost zero players that touch a basketball after high school. In junior college, these athletes are competing against a full roster of players that are trying to earn a scholarship. People are no longer doing it for fun.
These athletes need more respect and the only way to make that happen is to fill the stands and get them more media coverage.
Without sufficient exposure, professional sports will miss out on a lot of talent.