This is the time of year where players have to decide whether or not they want to stay in school and continue their development, or leave school early to test the waters in the NBA Draft. However, rarely do you see people make the decision to forego their final year of eligibility, yet stay in school, but that’s the decision that Nebraska’s Walter Pitchford made late Monday evening.
Pitchford is trading in his basketball shoes for a pair of shiny dress shoes. The Cornhuskers’ third-leading scorer during the 2014-15 season is giving up his final year of eligibility to focus on completing his degree in Ethnic Studies. This is a move that is rarely seen by student-athletes at the Division I level, or at the very least, it is not one that is publicized on a frequent basis.
The 6’10” forward transferred to Nebraska for the 2013-14 season after playing his freshman campaign with the Florida Gators. The native of Grand Rapids, MI saw a slight dip in production as a junior in 2014-15, averaging 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest. As a sophomore, he averaged 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, which was his best statistical season in the NCAA.
Pitchford played an integral role in helping the Cornhuskers reach the 2014 NCAA Tournament, their first trip to the big dance since 1998.
The decision by Pitchford is one that shows that there’s more to life than just basketball for the student-athletes in the NCAA. With the potential for careers to be cut short due to unexpected injuries, it’s always safe to have a back-up plan. In the case of Pitchford, he realized that an education could be far more valuable to his careers as opposed to focusing on basketball. Pitchford’s goal is to start a career in business after completing his degree, and we wish him nothing but the best in the pursuit of his degree and his career goals off the hardwood.