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Monday, August 08, 2022

Dear Marreese,

It's me, just thought I'd chime in on your decision to go pro.

It sucks.

But hold on a minute. Before you go cutting up newspapers and hang this on your locker, let me explain.

I'm not one of those people who think you stink, or claim you're about to make the biggest mistake of your life.

In fact, I've spent one night too many defending you to the masses in Gator City, telling people they just don't understand you like I do.

The moment I saw you, I knew you would play in the NBA. You have what it takes. It just saddens me to see you leave when you're still just a question, where one more year could change everything.

Stay in Gainesville and we can toss aside the word 'good' all together. You can become great.

Is that not something you want?

I haven't seen many players who can benefit from one more season more than you. You're lucky, Marreese. All your problems are between your ears, and if you choose to listen, you'll notice one of the best coaches in the country is right here, right now, willing to help you grow - something NBA brass won't bother to address.

But hey, maybe you hate school. And you know what, I don't blame you. If someone told me I could throw away my Man's Food packet and Wildlife CD for millions of dollars, I would leave too.

It's got to be tempting. I'm sure the idea of playing basketball and forgetting about going to class is great. I don't knock you Marreese, I just wish you could look past those things.

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If basketball is truly your profession, take another year to learn. You have so much room to grow. You might as well do it when nobody will blame you for trying.

Besides, your team needs you, even if some people are too stupid to see.

Everyone who calls you soft is an idiot. They don't realize you were never meant to be anything else.

You're not a center, you just had to play there because no one else could. You're a power forward with enormous skills, someone who can get off the ground in a hurry and hit an outside shot.

You were recruited for your offensive talents, for your soft hands and quick feet. Not for your defense, never for your defense.

Next season, someone will come in and play the five. Then you can slide over and become the player you were meant to be. You can be everything Dan Werner wasn't.

You will be able to face up to the basket and wreak havoc. In addition, you can block shots from the weak side and never worry about Southeastern Conference bullies taking turns pushing you around.

You will find a place in the NBA. There's no doubt about it. You will find a niche in a niche league and impress quickly with a skill set that can't be taught.

But I promise Marreese, if you wait just one more season, you can forget questions about whether you're ready for the next level.

People will wonder if the NBA is truly ready for you.

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