Starting in the August issue, I became a Basketball Times regular contributor. It is an honor to be associated with a publication that includes such stellar basketball writers as John Akers, Dick "Hoops" Weiss, Bob Ryan, Chris Rivers and Dick Vitale. My BT column is an opportunity to delve deeper into the issues we cover here on the Money Players Blog.
Below is an excerpt from my first article that includes what I think could be a step in the right direction on the "one and done" issue ...
NBA's age limit creating red, blue differences of opinion
By Marc Isenberg
When it comes to solutions, people either want additional age restrictions or want these restrictions removed entirely. From the NBA’s perspective, the age restriction makes sense…but it pushes other, more serious problems down to the college level: what to do about players who don’t want to be in school, plus various amateur and agent issues.
Something needs to be done. But what? Change is on the way, which should alleviate some of the problems, but whatever solution is ultimately put forward will not satisfy all—and will likely cause other, unforeseen problems.
The basketball intelligentsia is split on what to do about “one and done.”
“Get them into college. Don’t think of ways to keep them out,” he says. Elmore is concerned about poor high school and college graduation rates among African-American males. In Elmore’s perfect world, the NBA would support rules that would not “give them an option to go pro…We should be building highways to college for them.”
Elmore sees basketball as “fool’s gold,” which 99.9% of the time it is. He speaks passionately and eloquently about education as an imperative. Elmore adamantly believes that basketball players should not be eligible for the NBA Draft until they have completed at least three years of college. In order to save the souls of all our children, we must stop these 10 or so prodigies from selling their soles.
Terry Holland, the former Virginia basketball coach and current East Carolina athletic director e-mailed this strong sentiment: “Forcing young men to go to college simply does not work for anyone’s long-term best interest. We should stop pretending that we can manage this situation. If we truly do not want pros in college with all the attendant agents and NCAA investigations, then we have to make it easier for them to go pro, not harder.”
This mess is not the NBA’s problem, despite the fact that many blame the league.
Many would like to see the NBA institute a system similar to major league baseball’s amateur draft, where players can bypass college if they choose, but if they go to school, they must commit for two or three years.
NBA commissioner David Stern could throw a lifeline to NCAA president Myles Brand by allowing a limited number of basketball prodigies to apply for the draft, similar to the old “hardship” rule. And by apply, I don’t mean declare for the NBA by sending notice to Stern like Taj McDavid did in 1996. (McDavid was not considered a high-major prospect yet has somehow morphed into a cautionary tale).
Players could apply for an NBA job just like a teenager might apply for a job at McDonald’s. If the boss of either organization does not think a job candidate possesses the required ability, he does not get hired. Five, maybe 10 players out of high school would get accepted into the NBA annually. According to legal experts I talked to this would be perfectly legal (since it is no more arbitrary than the current age restrictions) if the NBPA consented to such an arrangement. These underage players could be drafted, but would be assigned to an NBA team’s D-League affiliate.
When the NCAA and NBA announced their partnership in April, Brand recognized “we can’t solve this problem through regulation.” Instead, Brand proposed a different approach: to “create a marketplace solution.” While he was referring to summer basketball, which neither the NCAA nor the NBA controls, the marketplace approach is probably the best way to address the “one and done” issue.
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