The youngster certainly seemed confident.
"After high school, I'm going straight to the pros," a squeaky-voiced
We know now that isn't true. After he graduates this spring from Beverly Hills High, Miller -- better known as Lil' Romeo -- is headed to USC on a basketball scholarship.
How he got that scholarship is a topic of debate. As a
All of this is probably true, but does it make Floyd a scoundrel for dangling some high-priced bait -- Miller's scholarship is worth about $40,000 a year, and men's college hoops programs only get 13 -- to land DeRozan? Does it make the younger Miller a villain for accepting the scholarship offer? Does it make Wetherell the victim of a nefarious scheme to stiff the noble walk-on?
No, no and no.
Remember, Division-I college basketball is not a game. It's a multibillion-dollar business. And this was strictly a business decision.
Floyd, like any other CEO, must squeeze the most value (wins and exposure) from the limited assets available to him (13 scholarships a year). He has seen colleague
Of course, this might backfire. What if DeRozan is as good as advertised and winds up shaking hands with
Clemson football coach
Like Miller, McElrathbey wasn't the best player available, but Bowden made a massive miscalculation if he assumed his choice was strictly a football decision. The negative PR -- Bowden has been ripped throughout the nation, and high school coaches in McElrathbey's home state of Georgia are questioning whether they should send players to Clemson -- far outweighed the consequences of keeping McElrathbey on an athletic scholarship.
Still, Miller's living situation is vastly different than McElrathbey's. Miller's father is a millionaire, and Romeo himself has banked plenty of scratch after several albums and a Nickelodeon television show (
Romeo will have to prove he deserved the scholarship, and given his current ability level, he probably won't get that chance until after DeRozan has moved on to the NBA. (To watch a clip of Romeo and DeRozan, go
If Romeo can win a spot in the Trojans' rotation, it would be an achievement equal to him reaching No. 1 on the Billboard chart with a song that didn't include an already memorable sample. No matter what happens on the court, Miller plans to use that scholarship to attend USC's film school, because, naturally, what he really wants to do is direct.
So where does this leave Wetherell, the lightning-quick walk-on from Alberta, Canada? The
Ryan Wetherell will be fine. Like most successful walk-ons, he's no whiner. He will continue to leave everything on the practice court floor with the hope that someday he can earn more than a few stray minutes of playing time on game day. Is he a better basketball player than Lil' Romeo? At this point in their careers, he probably is. If it were all about basketball, Floyd could roll out a ball and make Miller and Wetherell play one-on-one -- winner takes the scholarship.
Unfortunately, at this level, it's never all about basketball.