The NBA is one of the most challenging careers to break into. A college basketball player’s chance of making it to the NBA is roughly 0.03 percent. When a player does make it to the league, though, their team rewards them well. Salary levels that are absurdly high.
And, in the even more unlikely event that you become the franchise’s main character, you’ll be paid sums that would put Hollywood stars to shame. Endorsements and off-court employment let these athletes earn even more money. The argument is that education is virtually always put on the back burner for NBA players. There are always outliers in any paradigm, with almost always being the essential word.
NBA Player with a Doctorate Degree
Shaquille O’Neal, the NBA’s most famous and well-liked player, is one such anomaly. In fact, he is the only player in the league’s history who has earned a PhD degree. Dikembe Motumbo has two honorary doctorates from Georgetown and Haverford, however they are not educational accomplishments.
Shaq told his parents and himself that if he was picked into the NBA after three years at LSU, he would complete his bachelor’s degree. O’Neal would acquire a bachelor’s degree in 2000, keeping his commitment to his parents. One of his earliest encounters with the urge to educate himself.
Shaquille went on to acquire a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix, as well as a doctorate in business administration from Barry University. O’Neal has a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) in Human Resource Development, while not having a Ph.D. “The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles,” was the title of Shaq’s dissertation.
Shaquille O’Neal was once a basketball superstar who was “the” most dominant player in the paint. Because of his aggression and strength, the NBA would be forced to adjust the material and structure utilized in rim construction, as well as zone rules.
Most Educated NBA Players
Jeremy Lin, an American professional basketball player, is best known for causing “Linsanity.” Lin’s surprising winning turnaround with the New York Knicks in 2012 sparked a global craze, and the player’s sudden climb to stardom produced a rollercoaster of a journey for him – a journey that includes a 2013 film dubbed “Linsanity,” which chronicled the basketball star’s rise and achievements. Jeremy Shu-Fu was the first man of Chinese/Taiwanese ancestry to play in the NBA. How Lin was born on August 23, 1988, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and grew up there. Lin had a 4.2 grade point average in high school, which was good enough to meet Harvard University’s stringent academic requirements. Lin did not receive any athletic scholarship offers despite his outstanding high school basketball career (which included serving as captain of the Palo Alto High School basketball team during a 32-1 record that included a 51-47 upset of nationally ranked Mater Dei for the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state title). Harvard coaches were worried that he might be offered a scholarship by Stanford, but this never happened, and Lin was forced to “settle” for a roster place at Harvard. Lin studied Economics at Harvard University from 2006 to 2010, graduating with a 3.1 GPA and a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Mason Plumlee, a power forward and center for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, is a great example of both athleticism and academic dedication. The 28-year-old player, who was born on March 5, 1990, went to Christ School in Arden, North Carolina, a boarding school, alongside his older brother Miles, who is also a professional basketball player for the Atlanta Hawks. Plumlee was a McDonald’s All-American in 2009 after averaging 15.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game for his high school team, which won three North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championships and had a 99-8 record. Plumlee also won a silver medal with the United States U18 National Team at the 2008 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship. Plumlee went on to Duke University after high school, a school noted for its demanding academic standards as well as its successful basketball program.
Basketball in Nigerian pro leagues Festus Ezeli is now a free agent after playing for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors from 2012 to 2016. Ezeli, who was born in Nigeria to intellectually inclined parents, worked hard in school and graduated from high school at the tender age of 14. He wanted to be a doctor and was transferred to live with his pediatrician uncle in Yuba City, California, in 2004. His uncle was the one who urged Ezeli to start playing basketball, owing to the youngster’s height (6′ 8″ at the age of 14 – Ezeli would grow up to be 6′ 11″). Due to his lack of expertise in organized sports, Ezeli initially struggled with mastering basketball. He persisted, starting with a low-level AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) squad and progressing to a high-level AAU competition in 2007, where he averaged 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Following this, Ezeli was invited to the Reebok All-American Camp in July 2007.
At the age of 16, Ezeli attended part-time at Yuba Community College during his early years in America. He was able to practice and play for the AAU team while only studying part-time. Ezeli was recruited by a number of colleges after his debut on the AAU circuit’s high-level competition. University of Connecticut, Boston College, Harvard, and Vanderbilt were the final four schools on his list.
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Jaylen Brown, a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics, was reportedly on the verge of being cut from the NBA draft because he was deemed “too clever.” The 21-year-old athlete attended Joseph Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia, where he was born on October 24, 1996. Brown was a five-star recruit and ESPN’s fourth-best recruit in his class during his high school career, helping to lead his team to victory in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) AAAAAA State championship. Brown won gold at the FIBA America’s Championship in 2014 as a part of the USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team, and was picked to play in the McDonald’s All-American Boys Game in 2015. Brown has committed to play for Coach Cuonzo Martin’s Golden Bears at the University of California, Berkeley. Brown studied magnet chemistry at UC Berkeley and took a master’s-level class at Berkeley’s Cultural Studies of Sport in Education during his first semester. He was one of the best members of the Berkeley Chess team, and he also spoke Spanish fluently, proclaiming his ambition to acquire three additional languages before turning 25. Brown has made it clear that basketball is just one of his many passions, as he has also studied history, meditation, and philosophy.
His goals are bigger than basketball, and he’s been chastised for being “too educated” to play in the NBA. CBA published an essay in 2016 imploring the NBA not to overlook Brown “just because he was smart.” Brown was selected third overall in the first round of the NBA draft, putting an end to this worry.
Russell Westbrook is a professional basketball player with the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association. Westbrook has represented the United States national team twice, earning gold in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics. He is a seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. The Seattle Supersonics selected him as the fourth overall choice in the NBA Draft in 2008. He was then relocated to Oklahoma City, where he presently plays point guard for the franchise, just six days later. Despite his short stature of 5′ 8″, the 29-year-old athlete (born November 12, 1988) attended Luezinger High School and played point guard. Westbrook soon grew to 6′ 3″ and began playing varsity basketball during his junior year.
Tyler Zeller is an NBA basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks in the United States. The 28-year-old, 7′-tall athlete was born on January 17, 1990 in Visalia, California, but grew up in Washington, Indiana. Zeller went to Washington High School, where his basketball team won state Class 3A championships and four sectional titles during his freshman and senior years (2005 and 2008). During his final year, Zeller averaged 33.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Zeller’s uncle, former NBA player Al Eberhard, is an athlete, and two of his brothers, Cody Zeller and Luke Zeller, are also NBA players.
Following the 2008 season, he was crowned “Mr. Basketball” in Indiana, the state’s highest distinction for high school players. Zeller was given the prize three years after his brother Luke was given it, and three years before his brother Cody was given it. Zeller has proved his knowledge and commitment to academics in addition to displaying his skills on the court. He studied in business administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with a 3.62 GPA in 2012. For the second year in a row, he was named to the Academic All-American team.
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Kelly Olynyk is a professional basketball player from Canada who currently plays power forward and center for the NBA’s Miami Heat. The 27-year-old, 7′-tall player was born in Toronto, Ontario on April 19, 1991, and attended South Kamloops Secondary School in British Columbia, where he played on provincial teams and was exposed to US competition and coaching. Olynyk competed in AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and non-AAU events in the United States during his high school years and was a member of the Canadian junior national team. Coming out of high school, he was heavily sought and offered scholarships by institutions like Syracuse University, Providence College, and North Carolina State University.
In the end, Olynyk selected Gonzaga University to attend and play for, partly because it was closer to home. Olynyk showed a tremendous commitment to academics while redshirting his sophomore season (meaning he would practice with the team but not play). Before entering the NBA draft in 2013, he worked hard to finish his bachelor’s degree in accounting and was only two semesters away from earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA). Academic All-American awards were bestowed upon him as a result of his accomplishments. After declaring for the NBA draft in 2013, Olynyk was taken by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round with pick #13. However, he was quickly traded to the Boston Celtics, where he continues to play.