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Summer League Basketball

I occasionally wonder if summer league play is good for college players or not.  This is one of those times.  

The conventional thinking has always been “the more you play, the better you get.”  The counterpoint is this: A player spends the 6-month offseason developing skills & habits against competition whose defense is far less intense than the NCAA college season.  Not only are those skills of no use against college defenses, they may be counterproductive because players have to “unlearn” them when the college season starts. 

The Iowa State guards are a case in point.  I saw them twice in Orlando in November and again in January at BYU.  In all 3 of those games Curtis Jones and Keshon Gilbert were largely ineffective.  In contrast, Curtis and Keshon have performed brilliantly in February and March.  Did they improve that much in 30 days?  Or did they finally get acclimated enough to the intensity of Division 1 college basketball that they could display the skills they possessed all along?  

It would be interesting to see the results if a group of players invested their offseasons by not playing summer league games, and instead worked on shooting and ball handling skills.  Could they pick up in October where they left off in March instead of trying to wring out bad habits formed during summer leagues?  We’ll never know.

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