There once was a time when college basketball players would stay in school for three or four years.
Only the truly elite like Magic Johnson would leave after two years. Michael Jordan spent three years at North Carolina. Shaquille O’Neal stayed at LSU for three years. Tim Duncan went four years at Wake Forest.
Nowadays, guys nobody has ever heard of are fleeing after one or two nondescript seasons. This year has seen a shocking number of underclassmen leaving early.
Almost 200 players could be embarking on a mass exodus from college basketball.
From an ESPN report:
The NBA released the names of the early entry candidates for the NBA draft, and a record-setting 182 players — including 137 from American colleges — were on the list.
The deadline to file with the NBA was Monday night at midnight…
Many of the players — including likely lottery picks Markelle Fultz (Washington), Lonzo Ball (UCLA) and Jayson Tatum (Duke) — have already signed with agents. But the majority will test the NBA’s process, which allows players to retain their college eligibility as long as they withdraw prior to May 24, which is 10 days after the NBA draft combine.
Players also have to notify the NBA of their decision in writing by June 12.
Considering there are only 60 picks in the draft, many players are making bad business decisions. Instead of developing their skills and confidence in college, scores of players aim to make a squad any way they can and develop in the NBA.
Professional sports are cut-throat. Teams won’t use the time or resources to develop a marginally skilled player.
The NBA game suffers because many players never properly develop, or they bounce around the league as journeymen before figuring it out, and by then the general manager who selected them has been fired.
Gerald Green is an example of a player who had no business leaving early (he skipped college entirely before the one-year rule was instituted).
College basketball was deprived of a player like Green who could’ve dazzled at Kansas or UCLA while honing his craft instead of rotting on an NBA bench.
The ‘one-and-done’ rule hurts the college game because coaches are constantly reshuffling their rosters and losing opportunities to build cohesion. Coaches also have to placate to these blue-chippers because they know they won’t have them for very long.
It should also be said that ‘one-and-done’ players aren’t required to attend college their second semester. Too many players get one semester of “schooling” before withdrawing completely.
Basketball should consider adopting baseball’s draft policy; a player has the opportunity to go pro after high school, but if he chooses to go to college, he must stay three years before he can be eligible for the draft again.
This rule (during a prior collective bargaining, the NBA fought for a two-year restriction) would allow the truly elite prospects to bypass college (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, etc.…), and everyone else to develop their skills properly.
Something needs to be done because the sham ‘one-and-done’ rule benefits no one. Not the NBA. Not college basketball. Not the coaches. Not the players. And most certainly, not the fans.