The homesickness issue (again)

You hear it so often now it’s become the reason you expect to get when a girl leaves a college basketball program: she’s homesick. Wants to go to a college that’s closer to her hometown, family and friends.

Now it’s Samarie Walker, who left UConn and has now enrolled at Kentucky. In saying it’s not UConn’s fault that Walker left, her club ball coach basically said that it’s homesickness that did:

“To be honest, I haven’t known one player that leaves Ohio that at some point in their freshman season that didn’t want to come home,” Jenkins said. “It was no different with Samarie. She just never got over being away from her family.

The coach, Tom Jenkins, bullseyes the homesickness issue with these statements:

“However, I believe, sometimes UConn and Tennessee may not be the best fit for kids, even though they are the dream schools of many. I am a believer that kids should make a decision based on three aspects of the college experience: Academics, athletics and social.

“Samarie’s decision was a one-dimensional decision – basketball. And when they make one-dimensional decisions, they don’t look at everything as closely as they should. She comes from a tight- knit, two-parent family. I’m not saying home sickness was a factor, but she missed being close to her family and her little brother.

“Those are factors she didn’t consider, since going to UConn was her dream. It was nothing other than that. She didn’t consider closely enough what she might be missing in the social or family aspect of the school she chose.”

In my experience, kids and adults are about 50-50: approximately half the people end up living somewhere else besides where they were raised, and the other half stay in the same city or area for the rest of their lives. Now we have some girls who don’t even want to go away to college and come back with more world experience; they just want to stay home.

Jenkins is right, and ESPN recruitment process guru Mark Lewis would say the same thing: you have to pick a college based on all factors and not just one. I’ve told that to athletes for years. And no one can argue that the pressures in recruiting are astronomical these days. But I still stick with what I said last year in my “Generation of quitters” post: we’ve got to get out of this instant gratification mindset. It’s killing us.

Recently a kid I know was talked out of quitting her college program, which is ranked. It’s too bad Samarie Walker’s people didn’t do the same for her. She’ll always have her little brother, but her chance to play for the #1 or #2 team in the country for four years and win some national titles is gone. Sucking it up and growing up would have been the better choice for her.

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