NBA Age Limit: More Hurtful than Helpful

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IJune 3, 2008

In the spirit of draft month, I figured I'd take a look at the NBA age limit rule.

I'll jump right in.

Once someone reaches 18 years of age, most decisions should be made by that person, including basketball stars.

If the top-ranked high school prospect in America wants to go to the Chicago Bulls and be guaranteed millions of dollars as opposed to going to North Carolina and taking a trigonometry class, I say let him.

Going from high school to the NBA has proven to be more of a success for basketball players than being forced to enroll at a university.

Take the 2008 NBA MVP race, for example.

The top eight vote-getters (in correct order), were as follows:

Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, and Tracy McGrady.

Of those eight superstars, only two (Paul and Duncan) played in college. The remaining six came straight from the prom to the Association.

It seems that most of today's superstars don't even go to college.

So, why must players now (well, since 2006) be forced to take that trigonometry class, all the while missing out on playing at the highest level of organized basketball, and earning a fat paycheck?

Doesn't make sense to me either.

I love college basketball. It's my favorite sport. I love nothing more than to see freshmen phenoms such as Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, and Derrick Rose dominate a sport they have so little experience in.

However, if Kevin Durant would have had the opportunity to enter the draft in 2006, as opposed to play a year under Rick Barnes at Texas, I, once again, say let him.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Durant put up gaudy numbers en route to Player of the Year honors as a lanky 19-year-old, but had he never played at Texas, I wouldn't have lost any sleep over it.

It should have been his decision to go pro. Or, still go to Texas. Whichever.

But, the fact that he didn't have the option he (probably) wanted was wrong. I see what the NBA is trying to do from a protection standpoint, but letting these men make their own decisions should be the rule.

In a May column by Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline, he presented some very telling facts.

From 1995 to 2005, seven of the 29 first-round draft picks that were high school seniors made an All-Star team.

In that same 11-year period, nine of the 117 collegiate seniors drafted in the first round made an All-Star team.

Told you those facts would be telling.

That not enough for you?

Look at OJ Mayo and his situation with Rodney Guillory.

Sure, Guillory and his agency were involved with Mayo before he enrolled at USC. However, had Mayo been able to turn pro straight out of high school, maybe the integrity of the Trojan program wouldn't be questioned.

Actually, it would definitely not be questioned.

Why? Because Mayo would have never been linked to Southern Cal.

These are just a few thoughts I had with the aid of the column by Gary Parrish.

Pros and cons are evident for the age limit rule and its opposition. It's all facts and truth.

And, for the NBA and its age limit rule, the truth hurts.