I'm a little late to the party with this story, but I couldn't not write about it. The current NBA rule is that players must be 19 years old in order to play in an NBA game. Let me state that again, the current NBA rule is that players must be 19 years old in order to play in an NBA game. I reiterate that because too many people frequently refer to this as the "one-and-done rule" as in, the NBA says that players must play at least one year of collegiate ball before coming. This is not the case, and I point to Brandon Jennings who did not play in college, but rather played professionally for a year in Italy before coming to the NBA. The reason that I'm clarifying this is because I hate listening to people complain about the supposed "one-and-done rule."
Anyway, to the point, Larry Scott who is the current Pac-12 commissioner bemoaned the current NBA age requirement rule last week during Pac-12's football media day. First of all, why the hell are you bringing this up during football media day? Second, why the hell are you bringing this up during FOOTBALL media day? Here's the report from Doug Hollander of the the Arizona Republic:
But with college sports on the brink of overhaul, Scott feels it's time to alter a system that lets student-athletes “be on our campuses for less than 12 months.”
“Anyone that's serious about the collegiate model and the words ‘student-athlete' can't feel very good about what's happening in basketball with one-and-done student athletes,'' Scott told a small group of reporters at last week's Pac-12 football media day.
“We've managed with the NFL and football to have a reasonable policy that allows kids to go pro at the appropriate time. We've managed to do it in baseball. Basketball's the only sport where we haven't managed to come up with a responsible policy and the blame is with the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NCAA, so now's the time to take ownership of it. We've got time. We've made major changes in football. Now there's time to make major changes in basketball.”
Alright Larry, there are several issues with your points here, but I'm going to start with the most glaring one. First off, comparing football and basketball immediately makes your point irrelevant. Collegiate football players are allowed to enter the NFL draft following the completion of their junior year of college. This means that if you are a redshirt sophomore that you are eligible to enter the draft as you've completed three years of college.
Here's where the fundamental differences lie. In the NFL, these athletes are absolutely punishing each other. These are grown men going out and lighting each other up, I can tell you right now that there are absolutely zero 18 year old kids that can go out there and strap on pads and play with guys like Clay Matthews, Calvin Johnson, Ed Reed, and any other player in the NFL. Hell, there are 22 and 23 year old kids who can't make it in the NFL because of this. The NBA is completely different.
Yes, the NBA also requires a great deal of skill and athleticism to play, but unless you're a center who's going to be doing a whole lot of banging underneath, you're not really going to get hurt that much. Sure, there are torn acls, and hurt ligaments, separated shoulders etc. But there aren't 275 lb. men flying around trying to truck stick you in the NBA (unless your JJ Barea in which case watch out for Andrew Bynum).
This brings me to baseball. Here are the baseball eligibility rules straight from MLB.com
- High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
- College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
- Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed
Basketball is certainly a team sport, there is no arguing that, but teams that are successful generally have a marquee player who does a lot for the team overall. You can win in basketball by having a couple very, very good players and then some fairly average players surrounding them. Yes, there are teams that win because they have very complete teams, but there are also teams that win because they have "one and done" guys who can dominate.
Also, why sell these kids short? Why shouldn't they be allowed to go play professionally if they believe they can make it? I understand that these institutions are giving these kids scholarships in order to get a degree, but I can tell you right now I'm graduating in a semester and I'm hoping that I make $40K coming out of college next year. If you told me I could have left after my freshman year to sign an NBA contract I, and almost everyone else in this world would leave that institution in a heart beat.
There's also the fact that many coaches know what they're getting into when they recruit these players. John Calipari knows that of the class he's recruited this year that nearly everyone of them of are going to the NBA after this season. Does Calipari care? Well considering in the past four years Calipari has lost 10 freshman to the NBA draft I don't think he's terribly concerned. Instead, he reloads each year, and this year appears to be his best class ever with seven of his players ranking in the top 25 ESPN prospect rankings.
The thing is, that when it comes to basketball you can be a force at a young age. Examples include LeBron, Kobe, Kevin Garnett, etc. Even then, there have been plenty of other players who have emerged from the high school ranks and had solid careers, guys like Rashard Lewis, Monta Ellis, JR Smith, Al Jefferson and several others. There are also plenty of guys who came from high school and although they're not superstars or even great players they're still solid role players, guys like DeShawn Stevenson, Martell Webster, Amir Johnson, and many more.
Pictured: T-Mac, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant from 1998 all three came from high school and have been solid NBA players
I'll be honest, there are always going to be people prodding at the so called "one and done" rule, but ultimately it has been good for both collegiate players and the NBA. While I listed several players who were quite successful NBA players there have also been many who didn't cut it in the NBA and were unable to play in college having played professionally. Now, there are players who think that they can succeed in the NBA, but they must go to college or play in the D-League or overseas before they can do so.
This essentially allows players who think they're good enough to find out how good they really are when playing against a tougher degree of competition. This also aids colleges in their recruiting as they're now able to go out and recruit the best of the best instead of fearing losing them to the NBA. The system might not be perfect to some people, but I'll tell you now it's about as close as we're going to get.
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