Morning Five: 04.18.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2011

  1. Mike DeCourcy wrote an article late last week attempting to explode the myths surrounding the one-and-done phenomenon, and although he takes a different tact than we would with it, we both pretty much arrive in the same place.  As our analyses of one-and-doners from 2007-10 have shown, having a single-year player pass through your program can help in ways beyond merely Ws and Ls — it can also help with marketing, recruiting and elevating the general cachet of the school.  Through last summer, we estimated that 20 of the 35 one-and-doners (57%) had either been worth it or well worth it, and we don’t expect that  percentage to change much after this year’s crop is settled. (see our yearly analyses here: 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010)  Does this mean that that programs with large amounts of annual one-and-done turnover will lack the experience needed to win the national title — possibly, but no coach is going to turn down elite talent on the happenstance that he may only play college ball for one year (or two, if the NBA’s CBA changes soon).
  2. Speaking of the next great crop of elite players, the Jordan Brand Classic occurred Saturday night in Charlotte, with a large number of the top prospects in the Class of 2011 showing their stuff.  UNC recruit James McAdoo and Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis shared the MVP honors, with McAdoo hitting the clinching FTs with 1.6 seconds remaining to lead his East squad to the victory over Davis’ West team.  We’ll have much more on this later today in our Who’s Got Next? post, but let’s just say that Kentucky fans are drooling over the duo of Davis (29/11) and Marquis Teague playing off each other next season.
  3. Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto announced on Friday that he will be leaving Pullman to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.  The junior averaged 12/7 last season for the Cougs and was selected to the all-Pac-10 second team.  Although he is questionable in terms of draftability, he became a father in 2010 and that no doubt influenced his decision to leave school.  He mentioned in his statement that he would be fine with playing overseas for a little while first.  Let’s hope it works out for him.
  4. Some weekend transfer news…  LaSalle’s Aaric Murray has apparently narrowed his choices down to either Kansas or West Virginia.  The 6’10 sophomore averaged 15/8 last season in his second consecutive all-Big Five season for the Explorers.  He will have to sit out the 2011-12 season, but would be well poised to step into a starting role at either school after Thomas Robinson and Kevin Jones move through their respective programs.  Over in Syracuse, Jim Boeheim intimated that troubled freshman Dion Waiters may be on the outs sooner rather than later, noting during the weekend that “sometimes change is better for everyone.”  Waiters is considered a possible star in the making, but his attitude has gotten him into hot water at SU and he may have to blossom elsewhere next year.
  5. An estimated 40,000 fans turned out in Hartford to celebrate the UConn Huskies’ national championship season on Saturday afternoon.  Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker and the rest were all smiles as they paraded through the streets on a double-decker bus carrying the hardware they earned in Houston two Mondays ago.  The Hartford Courant had a bunch of great pictures on their site which we suggest you check out, but the below photo was our favorite one.  Given the cash-strapped state of the Connecticut government, it took a considerable amount of private proceeds from local businesses to make the parade actually happen (instead of a much smaller rally), which shows just how much the area supports their team — when it came to put up or shut up, they put up their own funds to make it happen.

    Kemba & Co. Celebrated in Style Sunday (H-C/B.Hansen)

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Is One-and-Done On Its Last Legs?

Posted by rtmsf on April 14th, 2011

God, let’s hope so.

Hopefully We're Putting This Era to Bed Soon

This site has been on record for a number of years fully in support of a two-and-done NBA rule that would have several corresponding effects.  A brief outline:

  • Here, we explain why having stars develop their marketability in UNC, Texas or UCLA uniforms rather than sitting the bench for a couple of years in the NBA is not only better for the individual player and NBA teams using the NCAA as its minor league, but also for the sport of college basketball.  Casual fans get more excited when they recognize the star players on the marquee teams (think: John Wall vs. Avery Bradley).
  • As we explained in this piece, college coaches who publicly support the preps-to-pros or MLB model (where a player can go pro either out of HS or three years later) are either being disingenuous to appear like they truly care about players’ best interests, or they’re forgetting just how frustrating and wasteful it was. After spending years recruiting elite players only to have them bail to the pros in late spring of their senior year, coaches were left scrambling to find last-minute replacements and having to explain to their fans why they had huge holes in their lineups the next year (see: Shaun Livingston, Gerald Green, JR Smith, et al).
  • And in this analysis, we showed that although having elite freshman talent might seem like the right thing to do, it probably won’t win you a championship in the current environment.  Depending on what Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and Jeremy Lamb do this month, as few as five and as many as eight one-and-dones have played in the Final Four in the last five years, with Lamb the only player to have won a title (as a second banana behind a NPOY candidate, mind you).

As we approach the expiration of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and players at the end of June, we’ve anticipated that an extension of the one-and-done rule to two years would be a significant chip on the bargaining table.  A report last week from Yahoo! Sports suggests that “about two-thirds” of NBA owners want to see such a rule implemented in the new deal next season.  The players’ union is against it for obvious reasons, but as this PBT article outlines, if it comes down to a situation where major-dollar negotiations hinge on protecting its union-member veterans in exchange for requiring another year of college for future members, we know which outcome is the most likely.

 

Teams Like This Make the Sport Popular (AP)

What does it mean?  The game of college basketball is probably as popular as it’s ever been in terms of whole numbers, but among the all-important casual fans, it perhaps pales to what it was two decades ago when most players stayed a minimum of two years.  We can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked to some of these folks about college hoops only to have them shrug their shoulders with indifference and say something like,”I just don’t like having to learn the new good players every year.  There’s no continuity.”  We can argue just how truthful that statement might be, but the important part is that the perception exists. The possibility of another transcendent team like Michigan’s Fab Five (where fans got to know every single starter intimately for two solid seasons) simply hasn’t been possible in the last fifteen years; with the strong possibility of a two-and-done rule taking hold soon, college basketball fans will finally get back to the glory days of watching great teams develop over a longer and more natural period of time.  If you love the game (or even if you only like it), this should be something we can all get behind.

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In 1-and-Done Era, Experience Wins Championships

Posted by rtmsf on April 16th, 2010

(special h/t to Luke Winn for inspiring this analysis with his article here)

You may have heard  in recent days that Kentucky’s John Calipari has been filling up on the tasty nougat that has risen to the top of the Class of 2010 high school basketball recruiting lists.  Five-star prospect Brandon Knight followed an impressive chorus line of 1-and-done Calipari point guards (D. Rose, T. Evans, J. Wall) by committing to the Wildcats on Wednesday, and Doron Lamb,  another five-star combo guard ranked in the top 25, committed today.  Turkish stud Enes Kanter committed last week, and there are rumors that others, including versatile top 15 forwards Terrance Jones and CJ Leslie, could be next.  All this, and we haven’t even mentioned yet that Michael Gilchrist, the consensus top player in the Class of 2011, has already verballed to go to Kentucky after next season.

Knight is a Great Talent, But Will He Take UK to the Final Four?

The point here is as clear as Ben Roethlisberger’s analgesic salves – high school prospects with dreams of NBA riches a year from now view John Calipari as the pied piper of the NBA Draft.  Follow him down the primrose path, and you will end up playing in the League one year later.  John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are the trailblazers here.  With all four projected as first rounders in June, the hype of Calipari’s flute-playing squares nicely with reality.  And Kentucky’s regal basketball program is the beneficiary.

Or is it?

We’re big believers that there are external benefits to programs who recruit and enroll 1-and-done players beyond wins, losses and NCAA Tournament success.  In fact, every year we do exactly such an evaluation that includes criteria beyond that scope.  For example, it is our view that the Texas program is still benefitting today from its one year of Kevin Durant on campus in 2007 even though UT only made the second round of the Tournament that season.  The same goes with Michael Beasley at Kansas State in 2008.  Call it the Jordan Effect.  Even if the players who are later inspired to follow Durant and Beasley to those campuses aren’t as good as those two were, there is a significant residual ‘coolness’ effect in recruiting those younger players who can help sustain the quality of the program over time.  To put it in terms of Kentucky, a 12-year old right now may spend the next few years idolizing John Wall in the NBA, and when it comes time for him to make his school choice in five years, the Wildcats and Calipari would have already have an inherent advantage over other schools.

With that said, we know what Kentucky fans hope to get from all of these 1-and-done types, and it’s not just a bunch of springtime recruiting victories.  Eventually it needs to translate to wins, most specifically those in March and April as Winn alludes to in his article.  The question then that we analyze here is whether a focus on recruiting 1-and-doners will get a team to that goal.  The available evidence we have, using admittedly a very small sample size, says that it will not.

Take a look at the table below, which lists all sixteen Final Four teams from the 1-and-done era (2007-10).

Read the rest of this entry »

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That’s Debatable: Whither the 1-and-Done Rule?

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2009

debatable

Recently Buzz Bissinger wrote an op-ed in the NYT about the 1-and-Done Rule in college basketball.  He feels that he has been duped by David Stern and the NBA for selling him on warm and fuzzies like player maturity and higher education when, in reality, the NBA just wanted the free marketing and player development that college hoops provides.  John Gasaway at Basketball Prospectus responded to his piece by saying that the NBA age-limit rule was always about the gift-wrapped marketing of college stars like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose for the NBA, and that’s all it was ever about.  Well, duh, but it brings us to this week’s topic, as the debate rages on among the hoops cognoscenti.   

This week’s topic: What should be done, if anything, about the 1-and-Done Rule?

come on guys

nvr1983 – editor/contributor, RTC.

I am torn on this issue. As much as I love seeing the 1-and-Dones in a college uniform, I do miss the continuity of college basketball from the early 1990s. It used to be fun to watch players develop from talented but inconsistent freshmen into steady seniors. Players always left early, but it was usually after their junior year and even then it was typically only great NBA prospects, not borderline NBA guys who are hoping they can dupe some NBA team into giving them a $2-3 million contract, which based on what I’ve seen from NBA players in the news lately should last them all of a year.  From a political and legal perspective I think the rule is a travesty as there is not a good reason for a player to have to spend one year in college particularly at an age that they can vote (sometimes making horrible decisions) and go to war (and potentially die). Still it is the NBA’s product so they can decide what to do, but I think they should either go all-in (4 years of college) or have a laissez-faire approach (let the NBA teams decide who they want).

john stevens – editor/contributor, RTC.

The statistics in the Bissinger piece show that the One Year Rule that keeps high school prep stars from directly entering the NBA draft has had no real positive effects for the kids themselves, but it does help the colleges (a year of service by star players) and the NBA (a year of free marketing of these possible eventual stars).  If we really want to make rules in the kids’ best interests, I think you have to either: 1) let them play straight out of high school if they want to take that risk, or 2) if they enroll in college, have them stay a minimum of three years.  Staying three years will help develop “mid-level” players that need the time in college to improve, and it will result in more college degrees for these kids, since some players do fulfill all the requirements for graduation within three years.  If unfinished, players who complete the three years would then find it easier to finish degrees after or even during their professional careers, or realize how much they love the college experience and stay for the fourth year in order to win a title, finish a degree, or both.

zach hayes – editor/contributor, RTC.

For the college game? It’s tremendous. For the kids involved? I’d be more than a little bit ticked off if I were in their shoes. But since I’m not, and a college basketball fan through and through, I love the rule where every high school player must spend a year in the college ranks. Why wouldn’t I? We never would have been able to see Kevin Durant work his magic at Texas, or Michael Beasley shatter Kansas State and Big 12 records, or Kevin Love lead UCLA to another Final Four. What fan of our game isn’t excited to see John Wall or Derrick Favors toe the hardwood this season in the intense atmosphere of college basketball? While I truly feel that high school prospects should be able to enter the NBA Draft without going to school (it’s fair, admit it), let’s just say I’m not complaining. The college game thrives when the ultra-hyped high school seniors shine on the collegiate stage, even for one year. And any rule that helps college basketball I’m all in for. The riches of the NBA can wait.

rtmsf – editor/contributor, RTC.

After KG opened the preps-to-pros floodgates in 1995, every borderline prospect with a broken jumper and a lack of sense of the incredible skill level required for the NBA were coming out.  But even beyond the HS stars, it began infecting the college game to the point where bench players on not very good teams thought they too were ready for the L.  A free market dictates that a person has a right-to-work, but the NBA has never been a truly free market (otherwise, teams could simply sign players at any time without regard to age, salary cap or the equitable distribution of talent known as the draft).  The NBA sets the rules for its employees, and David Stern has decided he’d rather have marketable stars who are further along the development curve than the raw products they were once getting.  I can buy and support that line of thinking, but it also needs to go one step further.  The rule needs to expand to two years (age 20).  The way it’s currently set up is just too disruptive for the schools involved with these players, and the development between Y1 and Y2 of college is often substantial (Blake Griffin,anyone?).

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06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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2008 One-and-Dones – Was It Worth It?

Posted by rtmsf on July 1st, 2008

Happy Fiscal New Year, everyone! 

Along with the turn of the fiscal calendar, July 1 also represents the turn of the academic calendar.  This is particularly appropriate for hoopheads, as the NBA’s season has ended and the draft madness that dominated bandwidth for the last two months after the Mario Miracle has died down to a whimper (well, there’s always 2009, right?).  All there really is to look forward to until October is the Ego Known as Kobe Bryant’s attempt to restore American hegemony in the international (read: Olympics) hoops realm.  That comes in August. 

So now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the 2007-08 season and once again review how the NBA’s one-and-done rule worked out for the schools that enabled it.  You might recall that we took a look at this last year and concluded: Ohio St., UNC, Texas… good.  Georgia Tech, Washington… not so good.  We also mentioned that several schools – Stanford, Tennessee, Arizona and Kansas included – were hanging onto players who could have been one-and-dones, but weren’t.  With the exception of the often comatose Arizona team, the other three as a result had fantastic squads last year. 

To start it off, let’s refresh ourselves with who the Rivals Top 20 recruits were coming into 2007-08.  As you can see below, we added a few columns that outline the player’s freshman numbers (pts/rebs/assts or blocks) and his team’s record as well as whether he went into the draft or is returning next season. 

So was it worth it?  Our takes:

Kansas St.  - Well Worth It.    K-State rode the best.freshman.ever Michael Beasley and sorta-but-not-really one-and-done Bill Walker (he was a medical redshirt in 06-07) as far as it could, which included a third-place finish in the competitive Big 12, a second-round NCAA tournament appearance and the first home win in twenty-four years over its rival and eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks.  In other words, K-State’s best season in a generation.  The important aspect of Beasley and Walker’s one-and-dones for KSU head coach Frank Martin is to capitalize on future recruiting from the good will and national notoriety mustered by these players while on campus.  If he does not do so, and it’s soon back to the bottom of the Big 12 barrel for K-State, then the potential positive impacts of these stars passing through Manhattan, KS, were missed. 

Memphis – Well Worth It.  This too is a no-brainer.  #1 overall pick Derrick Rose converted a competitive yet incomplete team that would consistently flame out prior to the Final Four against other elite teams into a team that probably should have won the national title.  Rose led Memphis to a 38-2 record and had the Tigers in the argument for the most dominant season in the post-Wooden era before its epic free-throw meltdown in the championship game.  Even only as a runner-up, a Memphis fan would be hard pressed to find much else wrong with the 07-08 season, and as such, the one-year stopover by Derrick Rose was well worth it. 

Memphis Would Take A Rose Every Year (AP photo/Seth Wenig)

UCLA – Worth It.  This was a tough one, because UCLA came into the 07-08 season already having been to the last two Final Fours.  Anything short of that measure was going to be a disappointment (although Bruin fans might argue anything less than a national title is a disappointment).  We’ll argue, however, that Kevin Love brought a toughness and star-quality to Westwood that had been lacking on Ben Howland’s previous teams.  Not to mention that UCLA last season at 35-4 was simply a better team than the ones led by backcourt players (Afflalo and Farmar).  More than anything, Love’s presence solidifed UCLA again as a marquee destination for top-notch recruits, as Howland has penned five of the Rivals Top 50 in the Class of 2008. 

Arizona – Worth It.  It’s quite possible that Jerryd Bayless last season saved Arizona from breaking its NCAA Tournament streak of 24 consecutive appearances.  Arizona certainly didn’t have a great year amidst all the Lute Olson divorce and feud with Kevin O’Neill turmoils, but with a final record of 19-15, you have to figure that Bayless’ fantastic freshman year was worth a few wins that put the Cats back into the field of 65.  But that’s about all it was worth.  It certainly didn’t make Arizona into a contender of any kind, and it’s doubtful whether there will be any residual effects from Bayless’ time in Tucson.   

Indiana – Worth It.  Eric Gordon‘s arrival in Bloomington was worth it if for no other reason than it gave Hoosier fans something to be excited about for approximately three months (Nov-Jan).  Now that the wheels have come completely tumbling off of the Indiana program, we have to wonder just how long their fans will covet and remember the halcyon days when IU was 16-1 and ranked #7 in the AP Poll.  Of course, E-Giddy was partially responsible for Indiana’s subsequent collapse (18.2 ppg on 37.2% FG/25.3% 3FG shooting in the last 13 games (8-5)), but we put most of that on the ultimate dismissal of Kelvin Sanctions whereupon the entire team simply quit playing.  So in our view, this one-and-done represents the last great season that Indiana will have for a while.  Too bad it couldn’t have worked out better for everyone involved. 

Gordon Left More than a Bloody Tooth in His Wake (photo credit:  Bloomington Herald-Times)

USC – Not Worth It.    For a while during the season, it appeared as if the OJ Mayo one-and-done situation might just work out for Tim Floyd and the Trojan Nation.  Similar to K-State, USC hadn’t seen this much hoops attention in years – with Mayo as the headliner, USC played numerous national television games, beat UCLA at Pauley, and ended up tied for third in the rugged Pac-10.  Of course, the wheels came off when USC failed to show up to its hyped battle against K-State in the first round of the NCAAs and the propriety of Mayo’s eligibility was called into question by ESPN soon thereafter.  Throw in Davon Jefferson (a one-and-done from the Class of 2006 who went to prep school for a year before enrolling at USC) and his foolish decision to enter this year’s draft (undrafted) and we’re not sure just how successful USC can claim 2007-08 was.  After all, the 2006-07 edition of the Trojans, led by Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt, also finished third in the Pac-10 but had a better overall record (23-11) and played into the second weekend of March Madness (giving Carolina all it wanted in the process).  Finally, with another uber-recruit, Demar DeRozan, coming to USC next year, Floyd needs to be hyper-vigilant about those nefarious agents and runners in light of the Mayo debacle because more eyes will be watching.   

NC State – Not Worth It.  Hey, remember all the preseason talk about how NC State was the third best team in the ACC, and a definite NCAA Tournament team?  Yeah, we don’t either.  Actually, we do, and few of the pundits will own up to the fact that it was a terrible prediction.  For the record, NC State ended up 15-16, but the Wolfpack were 4-12 in the ACC (worse than the previous year’s 5-11 campaign that inspired such foolishness) and lost their last nine games.  So what did JJ Hickson’s presence in Raleigh bring to the team?  Other than team chemistry problems, of course?  It doesn’t appear that he brought much else than an ability to get himself drafted.  NC State will likely be significantly better without him next season. 

What Chemistry Problems? 

LSU – Not Worth It.  While we’re in the business of ripping bad teams with one-and-done players, we shouldn’t overlook the LSU Tigers.  LSU seems to have one of these guys about every other year anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter much in terms of long-term effects, but a 13-18 record with a loss at Tulane calls into question the value of Anthony Randolph’s tenure on campus in Baton Rouge.  Certainly the mail-it-in coaching style of Mr. Misty Champagne didn’t help things out much, but even with John Wooden coaching that team, we’re not sure how much Randolph could have lifted the Bayou Bengals.

Others.  These teams all had one-and-dones of questionable efficacy.  Put another way, these teams probably wouldn’t have been much better nor worse had these players gone elsewhere.  Exhibit A is Texas A&M‘s DeAndre Jordan.  TAMU was a tourney team anyway, led by Joseph Jones and Josh Carter, and it’s doubtful that Jordan’s four double-figure points games and two double-figure rebounds games in the Big 12 had much of an effect on A&M’s successful season.  Not Worth It.  Syracuse fans may disagree with us here, but despite Donte Greene‘s exceptional first-year numbers, we find it hard to believe that the Orange would have been any less average than they already were last year (21-14, 9-10 Big East).  After all, Jim Boeheim could take five schoolgirls and make them competitive - he just wouldn’t win the title with them (unless Carmela Anthony was on the team).  The question is whether Syracuse fans are pleased with a third-round NIT appearance, and we all know the answer to that – a resounding no.  For a school with multiple F4s and a recent championship banner, missing the NCAAs completely is a failing season, no matter the reasonable expectation.  Not Worth It.  Finally, we look at Ohio St., who took Kosta Koufos to replace last year’s one-and-donest, Greg Oden.  The answer here once again comes down to the question of expectation vs. reality of the situation.  Without Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, it wasn’t realistic for Thad Matta to make another run at the F4; but the bar has been raised so high at Ohio St. under Matta that a 24-13 season leading to an NIT championship must necessarily be viewed as less-than-stellar.  Winning the Capital One Bowl doesn’t match the Rose Bowl, does it, Buckeye fans?  We’ll call this one a Push.   

Final Thoughts.  With so many freshmen leaving this year from the top 20 Rivals list, we’d guess only Florida with Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons returning may be a team to really watch closely next year.  Otherwise, keep an eye on UCLA, Wake Forest and UConn, each of which has multiple top twenty players coming onto campus next year. 

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Two and Done?

Posted by rtmsf on April 6th, 2008

Imagine if Greg Oden and Kevin Durant had been added to this year’s NCAA Tournament, in addition to Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and all the other super freshmen this year?  How fantastic would that have been?

What If He Was Still Around?

Well, if the rumor going around San Antonio is true, getting to see players such as the above in the NCAA Tournament through their sophomore years will eventually become a reality.   According to the Raleigh News & Observer:

NCAA president Myles Brand and NBA commissioner David Stern are holding a press conference here on Monday and are expected to announce a change in the NBA’s draft eligibility policy.  Brand hinted Thursday the NCAA and NBA had worked out a deal to create a 20-year-old age limit, which would keep the best players in college for a minimum of two years.

Being the social and legal pragmatist that we are, we’ve argued for a long time that players should not legally be prohibited from earning a living if there is a market for their services.  In other words, the NBA should not have an age restriction.   Examples of otherworldly talents such as KG, Kobe, Lebron and Amare have certainly justified their inclusion into the league at the tender ages of 17 or 18, given what they’ve been able to accomplish over the last decade or so.

But from the standpoint of college basketball fan as well as someone with considerable apprehension over the direction of American basketball in general, we love this move.  While it’s true that a handful of players such as Durant, Oden and Beasley will essentially be biding their time basketball-wise until draft day, the personal maturation process they will gain by doing their own laundry, studying for midterms and otherwise earning some responsibility at that age is immeasurable.  Additionally, by eliminating the going-pro option until after two years of college, it ensures that players will endeavor to stay eligible, which also encourages personal responsibility and commitment to a coach, teammates and the program (as opposed to only oneself).

It also eases the pain and suffering of coaches who recruit lottery picks, only to worry every offseason whether they’re going to stick around.  With a two-year rule, a coach can plan around having superstars for at least those two seasons, and as such, he doesn’t have to try to strike gold (or hope the player is another Carmelo) every recruiting season.

With all of this said, we’re a little skeptical of this report.  We thought that the NBA Player’s Association would have to agree to this change, and the current collective bargaining agreement (with the age limit at 19) doesn’t expire until 2011.  Furthermore, unless some fundamental shift has been made that we’re unaware of, David Stern hardly acknowledges the college game, so the idea that he would present this new rule as an “NBA/NCAA agreement” with Myles Brand in tow sounds rather dubious to us.  Nevertheless, we’ve heard for several years that Stern is adamant about getting a 20 year old limit instituted by the next CBA, so it sounds like we’re on the right track, whether it’s announced tomorrow or later.  Stay tuned.

Update:  Our skepticism was well-founded.  While it may still ultimately be true that Stern will push the two-year minimum rule forward at the next CBA negotiations, the NCAA has nothing to do with that, and no such “deal” was announced.  Rather, it had something to do with youth basketball in an attempt to clean up the US youth leagues from the filth spewed by the handlers and shoe companies.

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