NBA: Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel's Opinion on Age Rule Is Way off Base

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IJune 4, 2009

Four years ago, the NBA instituted an age rule requiring players to enter the NBA Draft at the age of 19, at least one year removed from their graduating high school class, or the most popular, only playing one year of college basketball.

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel has recently wrote two articles in regards to the situation, titled "The NBA's Uncool Rule" and "Congressmen Questions NBA's Age Rule."

The first article was a response to the allegations made about Derrick Rose in regards to having someone else take his SAT exam and the high school changing the grade of Rose's from a "D" to a "C."

According to Wetzel's article, the reason for someone else taking Rose's SAT and having the grade change was so Rose could get into college.

Well, the University of Memphis did its own investigation into the report and found that there was no evidence that Rose did anything wrong.

Yet Wetzel goes on and on about the situation like it had actually happened. It's the media jumping to conclusions and claiming that the NBA's rule is hurting player's chances of making the NBA.

Does anyone really believe that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or Moses Malone wouldn't have been able to make it in the NBA if they had played college basketball?

Then there's the other argument that claims that the rule is hindering players from making money. Wetzel uses the examples of Shawn Johnson, Danica Patrick, and Miley Cyrus as examples of youngsters who have made a mark for themselves.

If Wetzel had done any investigating into Johnson, he would learn that she is an amateur athlete, not a professional. Secondly, in order for Johnson to go to the Olympics, she was sponsored to go instead of being paid.

According to an article on Rivals.com titled "Shawn Johnson: America's Next Great Gymnast" by Seth Green, Johnson's school schedule looks like this: "On a typical day, Johnson wakes up at 6 a.m. to finish homework and get to school by 7:30. She leaves school at noon so she can eat lunch and do some homework before she practices from 2:30-6:30. She then goes home to eat dinner and do more homework. On Saturdays, she's typically at the gym for six hours."

Wetzel also skips the fact that gymnasts do not even remotely make anywhere near an NBA player. Their peak years are when they are young. Shannon Miller, who is arguably the greatest American female gymnast, got her degree from the University of Houston and then got her degree in law school from Boston College.

Pointedly ignoring facts about sports shows how much time Wetzel actually spent making his article. He would have realized right away it was a good idea to even try to compare a gymnast to a basketball player.

Danica Patrick did something totally stupid by dropping out of high school, but at least she realized that she needed a GED and she went and got that instead. She started racing at 16 and moved to England to do it. Patrick hasn't really been a total success in racing either and most of the time the ads that she gets put in are about her body because she has barely done anything in terms of wins in her career.

Miley Cyrus may have been a dumb choice by Wetzel to try to compare to as well. Cyrus may be making money, but she can't touch it until she's 18. Sure, she would be out of high school and not have to go to college, or she could make the choice to go get a degree. Even with that, it's not like Cyrus is just performing and making money without getting an education. She has a private tutor that helps her out while touring.

How many NBA players right out of high school would even consider getting tutor? None. Why? Because they were making money and see no need to further their education. But look at Joe Dumars: one of his proudest accomplishments was getting his college degree.

Basketball is not everything. There are injuries that can occur in high school or college. Look at Leon Powe: he was one of the highest-recruited players in high school, but due to a knee injury, teams were scared off. Eventually he went to the University of California where he had two superb seasons, but had one season he had to sit out due to a knee injury.

The injury was considered very serious, casting doubt whether he could come back, but he did. Yet, what would have happened if Powe as not able to come back from the injury? Do you think just because he aspirations of becoming a NBA player were over he wouldn't have been able to find success in another field, especially going to such a school like Cal?

Wetzel then uses the stereotype that these players are coming from low-income families and this is the best way to support their families. The question is: really? Powe managed to go to Cal for three years and do fine and he came from poverty as well.

There's financial aid available and most of these athletes are getting scholarships, so it wasn't like these athletes are going to be sitting out on the streets waiting for their opportunity to showcase their skills.

The NBA, instead of looking to change the draft rules, needs to make it stronger and start looking at the other professional sports. Very rarely does any player come straight out of high school and make an immediate impact.

Major League Baseball's rule is that in order to enter the draft if enrolled in a four-year college is after their third completed year. So as a junior, a player can enter the draft. Yes, high schoolers can enter the draft too, but since baseball has such a strong Minor League system, they are able to develop their game instead of having to play in college.

The NBA has just started getting going their version of the minor leagues and it is nowhere near the success that baseball has. The National Hockey League has a set of different rules, but like baseball has a Minor League system in place.

The National Football League has a rule that requires that any player entering the draft will need to have played three years of college football or be three years removed from their graduating class from high school.

It is time for the NBA to get tough and make the rule to increase to three years after high school. Why?

For every  LeBron James, Moses Malone, and Kobe Bryant there's an Eddy Curry, Kendrick Perkins, Andrew Bynum, or Tyson Chandler.

There are very few jobs where only having a high school diploma is going to get paid very well; in fact most other jobs where employees are making huge earnings require a degree.

But, there's a theory that since NBA players are making millions of dollars already, they don't need a degree to be successful. Yet, there's a life outside of basketball or the possibility of an injury cutting short their career.

Anyone remember Jay Williams, who played three years at Duke? What's he doing now? He's no longer in the NBA due to a motorcycle accident. He is not a commentator for ESPN, but also keep in mind he has a degree from Duke and he did it in three years.

Look at the Chicago Bulls.  They traded Elton Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers for the second pick in the NBA draft which was Tyson Chandler and the the fourth pick was Eddy Curry. Both came out of high school and have been what can only be described as a disappointing career for the both of them.

What would have happened if both Curry and Chandler had gone to college? They would have been able to develop skills that would help them in the long run. Let's face it: the minor leagues for the NBA is college basketball, but it also helps to know that if their NBA dreams do not work out, they have the chance of getting a degree and getting on with life.

Even though Michael Jordan only played two years at the University of North Carolina, there were things he learned from Dean Smith that he probably would have never learned if he sat on the bench as a rookie.

Let's take a look at Monta Ellis, who was drafted in the second round out of high school. He's been known for his speed throughout his career, but was always known as a scorer and at 6'3" that's not exactly considered very tall for a shooting guard.

Even though after his rookie season, Ellis blossomed into one of the most exciting players in basketball, but what if he had gone to college? He could have learned the point guard position which would have been the position best suited for him due to his size.

When Ellis came back from his ankle injury last year, coach Don Nelson experimented with Ellis at the point and it didn't get very positive results. Nelson had to put Ellis back at the two-guard spot.

Arguably the worst overall No. 1 picks has been Kwame Brown, who was drafted by the Washington Wizards. He has never lived up to the billing of a No. 1 draft pick and on top of that, what even made it more stressful for him was the fact that he was chosen by Michael Jordan.

There's one thing for sure though: if Brown actually had the chance to go to college and develop a set of skills for himself, he would have been a lot better player than he is.

Take a look at Carmelo Anthony. He played one year at Syracuse and led the team to a title. Would Anthony have done ok in the NBA without going to college? Probably! Did playing under Jim Boeheim for a year help him? Of course it did.

Even James and Bryant would have been better served going to college and at least playing one year. Both players could have worked on their jumper because, let's face it, even now he still doesn't have a solid mid-range game or outside shot, while Bryant has been better than James' since the start, but who wouldn't want to improve upon that?

The NFL has its policy in place due to the violent nature of the game as well as the fact that teenager's body is still developing as well. Major League Baseball same thing and there are some general managers who will not even look at high schoolers at all, and in the NBA the same thing should be happening.

Lastly, if players stayed for the three years, it would make college that much more competitive and more importantly, players can learn how to be a true leader during this time as well.

So does the NBA need to change its policy for when a player can be drafted? Yes. Should the NBA change the policy so a player can jump right out of high school to the NBA? No. The only change the NBA needs is to get to that three-year mark.


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