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NBA Draft - Going Pro in Europe

Nick Calathes and Epiphanny Prince Leave School for Pro Contracts in Europe


Epiphanny Prince and Candace Parker

Tennessee's Candace Parker defends Rutgers guard Epiphanny Prince during the 2007 National Championship game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Getty Images / Jim McIsaac
The parade of high schoolers many predicted would follow Brandon Jennings to Europe has yet to materialize. But that doesn't mean the flow of talent from the United States to Europe has dried up completely. Two significant players from the college ranks -- Florida guard Nick Calathes and Epiphanny Prince of the Rutgers women's team -- are abandoning their college careers early to play in professional leagues overseas. Is this the new trend?

Nick Calathes

A year or two playing in Greece makes a lot of sense for Calathes. His heritage is Greek-American, he has dual citizenship, and he played for the Greek 20-and-under team in a FIBA tournament last year. His brother Pat -- who starred for St. Joseph's -- plays in the Euroleague already.

But he's considered a borderline first-round NBA draft pick. If he slipped into the second round, he could opt for Europe instead... why sign in Greece before finding out what his options are in this side of the Atlantic?

Calathes may have actually improved his draft stock by making himself unavailable for the 2009-10 NBA season. For a team picking late in the first round that's not eager to pay a rookie's salary this season, he could be a very attractive commodity.

Epiphanny Prince

Playing in Europe isn't a fall-back option for top female players -- it's the ideal option. Stars like Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird reportedly pull salaries of over half a million dollars playing in Russian pro leagues, then play in the WNBA (top salary: $99,500 before bonuses) in the Russian league's offseason.

On a strictly economic basis, the decision is a no-brainer.

Rutgers will be a very young and inexperienced team this season, which may have influenced Prince's decision to go pro a year early.

Is this a trend?

Male basketball players have been leaving school early to chase pro contracts for decades -- if not for the NBA's age limit, some would still be skipping college entirely. Some may lament the early departures -- but it seems difficult to fault a college student for choosing a six-figure income over a degree. (You can always go back and earn those last few credits.)
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