LeBron James was the last of an era who went straight from high school to the NBA. After he made the leap, NBA declared that players must play at college or elsewhere for at least one year before declaring for its draft.
James didn’t play basketball in college, and his professional stature prohibits him from ever playing collegiately. However, he could still play sports in college.
The NBA megastar tweeted Saturday that he might be interested in playing collegiate sports, and wondered if he was eligible. Though he didn’t ask what sport he might play, his tweet came during a fun day of college football. Here’s what James wrote.
“Do I have college eligibility if I went to play another sport besides basketball? How does that rule work?”
The rules for NCAA eligibility are plain and simple. If you’ve played professionally in a sport, then you can’t go play that same sport in college. Several college football players in the past have played professional baseball before returning to college, including Ricky Williams, who went on to win a Heisman Trophy in 1998 at the University of Texas. Williams has played minor league baseball before enrolling at Texas.
Former pro athletes are also eligible for financial assistance should they go back to earn a degree in college as a student-athlete. With the NCAA’s name, image and likeness (NIL) approval for athletes, someone like James could furthermore continue raking in millions upon millions of dollars while competing in college.
LeBron James was regarded as a top high school football player in Ohio before he declared for the NBA Draft following his senior year. With his height and athleticism, he may have been a great wide receiver or tight end at both the collegiate and professional levels.
James, 37, has a net worth of more than $1 billion. He’s led teams to 10 NBA Finals, winning four championships between the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. He was the Finals MVP four times, he’s an 18-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist. He was a first-round pick by the Cavaliers in 2003.
Should James ever decide to go back to school, he wouldn’t be the first NBA player to do so. Heck, he wouldn’t even be the first Los Angeles Lakers player to do it within 18 months. Former player J.R. Smith last year became a walk-on to the North Carolina A&T men’s golf team. Smith has not only done well on the golf course, but has earned accolades for his work in the classroom.