Getting a degree? A Toronto Maple Leafs Perspective on the NCAA

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made frequent use of the NCAA over the years.

Current Toronto Maple Leafs prospects from the NCAA include Nick Abruze and James Greenway.

I was recently in Hawaii where I watched the Diamond Head Classic, a college basketball tournament.

There were seas of people in the crowd who were very passionately watching, ranting, and chanting during the game. This made me wonder why we put so much pressure on young athletes and how strong mentally they are to deal with this from the age of 18 onwards.

Would they benefit from switching their focus off of their sport and ground them in humility and reality?

Toronto Maple Leafs and the NCAA

Results from Toronto Maple Leafs players who played in the NCAA like Justin Holl, Alexander Kerfoot, and Trevor Moore, point towards yes.

Even Curtis Joseph played collegiate hockey.

Let’s take Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending prospect Joseph Woll as an example.

He has spent three seasons as the starting goalie for Boston College and he has high praise for the NCAA.

He says that his confidence in his playing ability has grown and college allows him time to develop his skill to an elite level.“With college, it’s nice because you get plenty of time to develop and you have that opportunity to go back,” Woll said

In 2018, collegehockeyinc reported that 310 NCAA alumni played in the NHL during the 2017–18 season. Maybe there’s a reason for this?

The CHL gives players great incentives towards college during and after their career but many players just have their eyes on the NHL.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner was offered a full NCAA Division 1 scholarship to the University of Michigan and Michigan State but, as he was taken in the first round and thus granted OHL’s educational package, declined to focus on his professional career.

On the flip side, another Leafs player Zach Hyman graduated from the University of Michigan and is a successful children’s author.

Likewise, the NCAA also recently allowed athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses. Meanwhile, the CHL has had to battle many lawsuits about the payment of their players.

Mitch Marner is clearly succeeding with the Toronto Maple Leafs despite his lack of college education. Well, this is correct but when their careers finish, not everyone can become head coaches or GMs. There’s only so many spots in professional sports to go around.

This wraps around a larger question of “does the NBA have a point with their “One and Done” rule”?

At a young age, players like Matthew Tkachuk disregard the NCAA as an option to make it to the NHL.

However, when all the glitz and glamor disappear, we are left with numerous athletes who run into money issues.

These athletes sign away their lives at 18, 19, and 20, when they can’t even drink yet in the States. Playing at a University or college level would allow these players to grow maturely and develop some responsibility in a real world concept.

Kerfoot himself stated he chose the college route as a backup after his career ended. Now, this is not to say they lack intelligence or everyone must go to school but the NBA is on the right track with their so-called “One-and-Done” rule.

Next: Leafs Top 10 Prospects

It gives athletes an option to play in a slower environment and develop their skills. This would place less pressure on “draft busts” to push themselves to use illegal substances or alcohol to succeed in the league.

Let’s give it the old college try, eh?

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