Should Basketball Players Be Required to go to College?
by Simon Andras
Many of the brightest stars in the NBA have made the huge leap straight from high school to the pros. Lebron, Kobe and many more all skipped out on playing NCAA ball for the more glamorous pro contracts and accolades associated with a life in the NBA. For every guy who successfully made the jump, there were probably a half a dozen others that failed or just fell off into mediocrity. Those days are obviously now gone, as players are required to play at least a year of college hoops before declaring for the draft. Is this good for the game? What about for the players? I'm sure the colleges like it, as they get the big name talent to showcase for the mandatory year, but if these guys are good enough, shouldn't they be allowed to make the decision themselves as to where they should play?
Does more time in college really make sense?
Every year arguments come up that either want the college required year to be removed or extended. Whether or not we see a change in the near future is anyone's guess, but the NBA does have a new commissioner so stay tuned. I can see both sides of this argument, but here's my reasoning. If someone is good enough to go from high school to the pros, who should stop them? They are technically adults, who should be capable of making their own decision.
Requiring a year of college might help some of the middle tier players develop, but forcing everyone to risk a career threatening injury playing essentially for free seems entirely unnecessary. Requiring two or three years of college play? Just the wrong idea, in my opinion. It would be great for college basketball, keeping elite levels of talent from making the jump for a while longer, but it would have an equally negative impact on the pro game.
A rookie is a rookie
Regardless of how much time one spends playing in college, they are still a rookie on draft day. This doesn't matter if the player comes straight from high school, or four years playing for a top university - the NBA is just a different game. It requires a huge adjustment for any player - no one comes in as a fully developed player. Why not give these kids more time in the pros?
I fully acknowledge there is another side of this, by entering the draft early a player does lose his college eligibility which can potentially have a huge impact on their future. Let's just say a player enters the draft, fully expecting to be a first round pick. Seems like a brilliant financial decision - they are guaranteed contracts after all. However, said player falls out of the first round and lands in the middle of the second, doesn't make a roster and ends up not getting paid, all the while losing their chance to go back and finish out their college career. This isn't really a hypothetical story, it's happened many times.
It's a terrible situation for anyone to go through, but who's to say that forcing them to play one, two or even three more years of college would fix that? At least they'd get a degree, I guess. My theory, however, is this - let's say if we get rid of the one year requirement, but add in a clause which let's potential draftees retain their college eligibility if they were not drafted in the first round. This eliminates most of the financial risk for these guys, all the while not forcing them to go through a year of college, one that we all know they probably didn't need or want.
Are we going to see this change? I doubt it, not soon anyways. I think it would be smart for the NBA though. The more talent you get, the better. A stud coming out of college is great, but the headlines created by a high schooler taking the world by storm are a whole different world of publicity. What are your thoughts?
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