There has been talk around the media about the NCAA adding more teams to the post season tournament. A move that to some is not needed, yet to me, the move is not the most important thing that needs to be changed.
As the NCAA season is slowly coming to an end, student-athletes around college basketball are starting to decide whether to carry on their academics or enter the upcoming NBA Draft. The NCAA has taken the “student” out of student-athlete.
College basketball is one of the purest sports in all of America. Fans and institutions do not have to worry about collective bargain agreements, or players threatening to hold-out for more money. However, it has been shadowed in recent years by the “one-and-done” rule, which forces high school seniors to attend one year of school before being eligible to forgo their sophomore season.
The rule has created quite a stir in the college basketball media and even has coaches disgusted.
The NCAA constantly expresses how academics are at the utmost importance, yet, they have implemented a rule that does not force freshmen to attend classes. For an incoming freshman to be eligible, the student has to register with the NCAA Clearing House, which reviews high school transcripts and requires athletes to meet minimal requirements.
During their freshman year, the player’s only requirement is to attend practice. This has of course caused a lot of uproar in college basketball, as players are able to skip classes and still play ball during their freshmen year.
Because of the “one-and-done” rule, today’s players that are going into the NBA after one year of school are consistently not able to compete at a physical/higher level. Yet, the NBA will showcase the select few players that are able to hold their own inside the NBA and sweep the others under the rug.
Although players are forced to go through one year of school, Brandon Jennings took a different route to the NBA. Last year, Jennings chose to play basketball overseas in the European Professional league. Not only was Jennings playing ball at a professional level, he was also getting a pay check as well.
Before his decision to play in Europe, Jennings was heavily publicized, and when his time came to make a decision, Jennings was of course met with critics about playing in the Euro League. They argued that not going to school would put him in a position to fail, and that would not be accustomed to Europe, and ultimately cause him to be a potential bust in the NBA. However, not only did Jennings hold his own in the Euro League, he also got a glimpse of the real world. Jennings did not have others to make decisions, and had to rely on himself.
Ultimatelym Jennings’ choice payed off. In the 2009 NBA Draft, he was selected 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Against the disbelief from his critics, Jennings is also holding his own in the NBA, averaging just under 20 points a game. The once thought mistake, is now making a fool out of others in the NBA night in and night out.
The NBA and NCAA could also even look into the similar agreements that the MLB and NCAA have. In baseball, a high school student is eligible to be drafted by a major league ball club. However, if the player chooses to go to college, he is not draft eligible until after his junior year. Using this rule could also help build the NBA’s Developmental League, and force incoming seniors to play one year in the D-League.
I personally think it is still best for high school seniors to go to school rather than playing overseas. Not only will school help further them in their studies, it will also prepare them for life outside of basketball. I would not mind seeing more of the “one-and-done” guys go to the European league. It would, in the end, be a better crash course to what life in the NBA is like. In addition, this would help college teams build team chemistry, and not force head coaches to worry if their star player is coming back for another season.
Unfortunately in the NBA, for every LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Dwight Howards, there are even more Kwame Browns who get shuffled throughout out the league and are never able to establish themselves.
As the season winds down, freshmen all over college basketball are going to ask them selves one thing: “Do I stay and play?” or “Do I go and get paid?”