Pitt basketball's DeJuan Blair announced today that he has signed a marketing contract (and consequently become ineligible for college athletics).
Blair, a fine fellow, often reminded me of Fifth Avenue's Sam Clancy, who regularly outplayed bigger (but not stouter) basketballers for Pitt in the 1970s . Clancy did not play football at Pitt, but crafted a handy National Football League career along the defensive line after a Pitt football coach (who could not persuade Clancy to join the football Panthers) alerted an NFL scout to Clancy's transferable skills.
I hope Blair can emulate Charles Barkley, who fashioned a strong NBA career under the basket with a non-standard body type similar to Blair's. I still sense Blair may follow the course established by Sam Clancy, and pursue his fortune in the NFL, at tight end or defensive end. I am attempting to ignore my fear of the trajectory established by Peabody graduate Mel Bennett, who left Pitt early for the American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires in the mid-70s and washed out.
If Blair acted on unqualified advice from reliable sources who care about him, and becomes an NBA lottery pick, it is quarrel with his reasoning or envision an unhappy ending. But I can't shake the sense Blair would probably have benefited in several ways from staying at Pitt for another (heavily insured) year or two, and perhaps from taking the path marked by Antonio Gates.
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