I doubt there is anyone who has written more about "one and done" than I have. Click here if you don't believe me.
On one hand, it is absurd to get completely bent out of shape over a just a few players. On the other, "one and done" brings to light many of college basketball's dirty secrets. To name just a few: unscrupulous agents, shady coaches, academic shananigans, AAU "non-profits" funded by agents, financial advisers and, oh yes, boosters (Say it ain't so!).
Many would love to see the NBA create a system similar to MLB, where players can go pro right out of high school, but if they choose college, they are not eligible NBA draft for three years. But, college basketball is no longer the only route to the NBA, so further restrictions could drive more American players overseas.
NBA commissioner David Stern deftly points out: "This is not about the NCAA. This is not an enforcement of some social program. This is a business decision by the NBA. We like to see our players in competition after high school."
The best solution, in my opinion? Let the marketplace decide. If being unproven translates to poor performance, then NBA GMs would just resist the temptation to select these young prodigies. Of course, that's not how it works. And, let's not forget an important reality: Players who turned pro when they first became NBA Draft-eligible have performed very well. See previous post on analysis by Grant Wahl and Michael McCann, from one of the earliest known Money Players posts.
Mike DeCourcy will undoubtedly email me to say that Kobe, LeBron, Dwight would have performed better if they went to college, even for just a year. And maybe that is true, but it's unprovable.
The often-wacky Dick Vitale actually makes a lot of sense on this issue, writing:
It is time to end the one-and-done, baby!
It is unfair to an athlete who has to go to school for one year when he has no desire to be in the classroom. College is supposed to be for those who want an education, for those who want to be there.
It is time to end this mockery. If these kids want to make themselves available for the NBA, then so be it. If the NBA sees fit to draft them, so be it. The league should determine which players legitimately have a chance.
Sunday's Outside the Lines focused on the impact of "one and done."
The comments from Jay Bilas are worth examining:
Nobody ever talks about agents being a problem in the Olympics. The problem is the puritanical view we've got of the NCAA rules. And if you violate their rules, they are made to be a criminal.
In other words, agents aren't the only problem. Yes, we don't want unscrupulous agents, but we also don't want unscrupulous coaches and boosters.
If you read the NCAA rule book, coaches are seen as bad influences on kids. The rules contemplate keeping coaches away, while agents and runners have complete access. College coaches are not bad influences. They have to be allowed more access.
I am totally in favor of getting rid of the two-hour per week limitation that coaches can workout current players during the offseason. We pay college coaches ridiculous salaries and then tell them they cannot coach. Total nonsense. If an elite player wants 20 hours of training, it should be mandatory that someone from the coaching staff is at their beck and call.
When it comes to players not yet in the program, I do not think we should declare open season. Coaches have proven that excess and pushing the bounds of NCAA rules are effective ways to sign players. They would engage in exactly the same activities as agents and runners...if they don't already (see previous post, It's the horse, not the jockey). Do we really want college coaches to become glorified agents? I understand the argument that college coaches need to develop closer ties to top players and their circles at earlier ages, but I would be careful "deregulating" the recruiting process.