In an interview with Bryant Gumbel that will be broadcast Tuesday night on HBO’s “Real Sports,” Brandon Jennings says playing ball in Italy is not quite like being in hell. But being in college would be.
Bryant Gumbel: “Do you view this as purgatory?” A place you got to go to because you weren’t’ allowed into heaven, which is the NBA?”
Brandon Jennings: “I guess.”
Gumbel: “Could be worse.”
Jennings: “It could be. I could be in college. I could be in class right now.”
Jennings, now 19, has a three-year contract with Lottomatica Virtus Roma that allows him to opt out after this season when he will be eligible for the NBA draft. Jennings deals calls for the team to pay for a three-bedroom condo on the outskirts of Rome and for his younger brother, Terrence, to go to the city’s best prep schools. Since Brandon does not have his driver’s license yet, his mom, Alice Knox, shuttles him to and from practice twice a day.
Jennings is a spot-starter, averaging less than ten points a game. The trailblazing experience was organized for Jennings by Sonny Vaccaro, who tells HBO: “I’ve talked to parents of children who are in ninth grade and tenth grade, and some kids who are gonna be seniors this year that are looking at it as an option. I don’t know if anyone else will do it. But they know they have an option. And that’s a good thing.”
Gumbel: “Are you convinced you made the right decision?”
Jennings: “Yes. No doubt. It’s the best decision I’ve made so far.”
(Photo courtesy New York Times)
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.