It seems that the only possible way now to be a powerhouse in NCAA Men’s Basketball is to go with the “one and done”. Just take a look at what John Calipari has done since he took over at Kentucky. The Wildcats have almost always had one of the top recruiting classes in the nation since Coach Cal took over. Many would believe that this is because the players want to play for a winning coach, a winning program, and want to attend an institution where they can see themselves at for the next 4-6 years or so. However, with Kentucky, it seems as though the players are going to Lexington in order to get out as quickly as possible. Recruits head to Kentucky to try to win a title in their first year and then hopefully be a lottery pick in the next NBA draft. Just take a look and Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nerlens Noel, and Julius Randle (the final two did not end up winning titles). This left the rest of the NCAA hoops field left scrambling and forced all of them to adapt to the same strategy (Kansas, Arizona, and Duke in 2013-2014).
It has been stated by numerous people that the “one and done” strategy hurts not only NCAA basketball, but also the NBA. It allows many 19 year olds to leave college early and be handed millions upon millions of dollars in the span of a year. Add that to fame along with every person in the world wanting to be in their circle and it can often times become too overwhelming. This can often cause players to become “busts” and they are unable to live out their once called promising NBA careers. A few years later and all that money suddenly disappears and that individual no longer has the capability financially to complete their degree.
This argument is why NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has stated that he would like to raise the age requirement to 20 years old before an individual can declare for the NBA draft. It does seem that the main reason to do this is to help the maturation process of all of the potential NBA players while also giving them the chance to continue to develop their skills so they will be more likely to succeed. This is especially true when it has been recently stated that the NBA is the worst it has been in decades. The Eastern Conference has been considered by many to be a joke and it seems that every team, including the Lakers of all teams, decided to partake in “tanking”. Silver already has a tough job replacing a legend in David Stern, but his job got exponentially more difficult once the integrity of the league was questioned.
One topic that also needs to be discussed with this issue is the impact on the NCAA Tournament. Currently, most of these teams go all out with a lineup of talented freshman hoping that they will mature quick enough to win a national title. Kentucky started five freshmen in the national championship game while playing a total of seven throughout the contest. However, that strategy did not pan out for them in 2013 when they did not qualify for the tournament and lost in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris. One benefit to this rule change would be that these “one and done” teams end up turning more into dynasties as they will have the chance to play together for multiple years (such as Florida from 2005-2007). Maybe that championship and the challenge of going back to back will keep the kids in longer past the minimum age requirement.
However, a downfall of the potential dynasties is that it could decrease the entertainment value of the NCAA tournament. What?!?! Decrease the entertainment value of March Madness? It could very well happen if the rule goes through. Many of the mid-majors such as Wichita State and Butler as well as the Cinderellas such as Dayton and VCU (no longer a sleeper) would struggle more against the likes of the Dukes and Kentuckys in the tourney. The mid majors hold an advantage right now in a lot of ways because of their cohesiveness from playing so long together whereas the larger schools struggle to find chemistry throughout the whole year. If you gave Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins another year with their current team, I can guarantee that at least one of those teams if not both of them would make it to the Final Four. So the debate begins on which we would rather see: a dynasty with multiple titles or a team like George Mason make it to the Final four.
Overall, there are still many obstacles to overcome before this rule is put in place if it ever does come to fruition. The NBA owners seem to be in favor of the rule, but the NBAPA is strongly against it. Simply because that means we wouldn’t have had Kobe, LeBron, KG, etc. right out of high school. Their respective teams were able to generate so much revenue from them simply because of the excitement that they brought. Would it have killed us to wait another year or two? Probably not, but still, it’s not something we would have been happy about.
Both the NBA and NBAPA are going to have to work on this quickly and they must find a resolution that helps both parties. The last time the two couldn’t agree on something major, the lockout of 2011 occurred and the NBA brand is still trying to recover from it. Either way, the debate is not going away anytime soon and it will surely be questioned for years to come after the decision is ultimately made.