Black Men

NBA Player Drafted Fourth In 2002 Goes Back To School To Get His Degree

By Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III

Just about every college athlete hopes to turn pro someday. For many of them, it’s a dream come true. With all of the sweat, hard work, dedication, and commitment to a particular athletic profession, it’s no wonder why many athletes sacrifice so much during their collegiate career.

Anyone who follows Men’s NCAA Basketball will know that many of the athletes will play one year and decide on leaving college early with the hope of being drafted in the NBA draft. You will hear the phrase ‘one-and-down’ which simply means a player will only give their perspective school one year of their talent. Is it right? Is it fair? The answer to those questions are debated every year but the truth of the matter is that kids are turning professional in order to make as much money as possible while they are still young and healthy to play.

With so many college athletes turning professional before graduating from college, so few go back to complete their degree. With all of the money, possible endorsements, and other things competing for their time, going back to finish their degree isn’t on their top list of priorities.

One athlete, in particular, decided to keep a promise he made to himself and his family.

Former Kansas Jayhawk basketball player, Drew Gooden left school early in 2002 to enter the NBA draft. Now, after 15 seasons in the NBA, Gooden can now say that he’s a college graduate. On Sunday, Gooden graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies.

Gooden told the Kansas City Star, “Talk about having a monkey on your back. I actually had nightmares about it. I’d wake up and be on campus, and something would go wrong and I hadn’t graduated.”

Even though Gooden hasn’t played since the 2015-2016 with the Washington Wizards, he is still eligible to play given the fact that he works in the basketball operations department of the NBA.


Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III is a speaker, author, and success coach. Contact him at or on Twitter

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