In 2005, the NBA created a rule that limited the number of high school students entering the NBA draft directly out of high school. The rule stated that the player must be the age of nineteen before the draft, or at least one year removed from his high school graduation, if he wanted to enter the draft. For most players, this meant heading to college for a year to play basketball was their only option to get a shot at playing in the league, thus sparking the so-called “One-and-Done” movement in college basketball. You may have heard of players such as Kevin Durant (Texas) and Derrick Rose (Memphis), who were some of the first players to partake in the process. It has lead to teams devoting their whole strategy around the idea, such as Kentucky, and more recently Duke.
There have been sixty-eight One-and-Dones since 2006. Kentucky leads the pack with thirteen, five more from Ohio State, and four each from Kansas, UCLA, and Texas. According to Sports Illustrated, 24% of the One-and-Dones since 2006 are considered “stars” in the NBA, 37% are considered “rotation players,” 27% are considered “bit players,” and 12% are considered “flops.” If you combine the “bit players” and “flops,” that 39% perhaps had the potential to become better players if they stuck around a little longer in college.
Traditionally, college sports means the opportunity to get a degree while also being able to play and develop as much as possible as a player. College sports are meant to allow a player to attain the balance of both playing a sport in college, while also excelling in the classroom and developing skills and knowledge to help them for the rest of their life. However, in today’s times, colleges are becoming multi-million dollar enterprises, generating revenue on their large athletic programs, thus causing the student-athletes to become annoyed by the fact that they are not able to get paid for their difficult duties as a student-athlete. With that in mind, why would a player want to stay longer than a year in playing college sports, when, if perceived talented enough, they are able to be given a million dollar contract deal for the following year?
This is where I believe the system is flawed and needs to be changed. In my opinion, the NBA and NCAA should work together to create a system like that of the Major League of Baseball, where players are given the choice of either leaving straight out of high school if drafted, or attending college and buying into the notion of being a student-athlete for at least three years before being drafted. This system creates an environment where the athletes, if they choose, are given the opportunity to go straight to the league and aren’t forced to commit to college.This keeps college basketball as unflawed as possible, and lets it represent what it always has—player development. In current times, watching a common college basketball game results in endless commentary on the NBA draft stock for college athletes, or the potential a college player has for the NBA. For me, I do not care about the NBA draft stock of a player, as I am watching the college game to see the player in college, not for his potential in the NBA. NCAA president Mark Emmert says it best: “My position is a young man or woman shouldn’t have to go to college to become a professional athlete. If they want to come to college to become a better athlete and get a degree, then come on. But to force someone to go to college that has no interest in being in college makes a travesty of the whole notion of a college athlete. I would love to work with anybody in the pro leagues to provide a system that works.”
Former varsity men’s basketball coach Alex Peavey has similar thoughts on the issue, as he has coaching experience in college basketball. He says, “It has completely undermined legitimate player development at the college level, and it has diluted the level of talent at the professional level… It is the right thing to do for a fraction of a percentage of players who are capable of making the jump, but what about the majority of players who end up not panning out?” Bon Air basketball coach Chris Carr (‘16) also acknowledged the issue, “While I do think college athletes should have a right to earn a living playing sports at a young age, it is clear that One-and-Dones have caused definite harm to the game of basketball.”
It is hard to see players with so much potential and talent choose to leave for the NBA early and become a bust, or not pan out the way they were expected. It is also challenging, as a college basketball fan, to see so much emphasis put on the NBA for college players. There needs to be a solution where the players who want to go straight to the league can go straight to the league if they like, and the players who choose to go to college can become a student-athlete and become the best player they can while representing their university. College basketball and the NBA are both spectacular in their own way; however, when combined together, it causes for flaws in each respective organization.
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Featured image courtesy of Desert News & Bleacher Report.