One and done rule not good for NCAA basketball

Sports Commentary

It’s the middle of May, but the Kansas Jayhawks got a huge boost to their national title hopes last week when they landed the nation’s No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins, a 6-foot-8 205-pound forward, likely will make an immediate impact for the Jayhawks. The Naismith winner as the best high school basketball player in the country averaged 23.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season as a senior in West Virginia.

Wiggins will likely dazzle crowds in Lawrence this winter with his size and athleticism.

But Kansas fans should get a good look at Wiggins because history tells us a year from now he will be at the NBA draft combine, honing his skills for the next level.

Because the NBA requires players to be at least 19-years old and one year removed from high school before becoming eligible to be drafted, many of the elite high school players see college as nothing more than a one-year finishing school.

The “one and done” rule, as it is dubbed, was enacted in 2006 as a way for the NBA to avoid kids coming from high school who weren’t ready to play in the NBA. It’s the NBA’s hope at least one year of college will help players become more mature on and off the court.

The league doesn’t have to look like an evil empire when a kid comes out of high school with huge dreams but instead turns into a huge bust.

But does the rule really help the athletes or the NCAA?

Some would suggest it does because fans got to see players such as Kevin Durant at Texas and Derrick Rose at Memphis play a year of college basketball when they otherwise likely would have gone straight to the NBA.

I don’t see how it helps college basketball.

There are a certain number of players each season who show up on campus with no intention of graduating. They are only there because their future employer (the NBA) essentially mandates they show up for the year.

Whatever happened to being a student athlete?

In recent years, Kentucky is a prime example of how the rule is changing the game. Coach John Calipari has been able to load up on talented players he knows are likely to stay one year before leaving for the NBA. The rule helped the Wildcats win the national title in 2012. It didn’t work as well last season when the loaded up Wildcats lost in the first round of the NIT.

And what if one of those players gets hurt in college like Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel last year?

The powerhouses like Kansas and Kentucky will continue to benefit from players whose sole purpose of being in college is because the NBA said they had to be.

In the NFL a player must be three years removed from high school before being eligible for the draft. This is due in large part to the grueling physical nature of football.

In Major League Baseball, high school players can be drafted. But if they do not get drafted or do not sign with the team that drafts them, they are not eligible for the draft again until after their junior year of college, or until after they turn 21.

In these systems, both serve their sport well. College football is preserved because the best players are going to make a two- or three-year impact for their schools and are more likely to get their degree. The same can be said about baseball.

The truth is, some high school seniors are ready for the NBA. LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett are just a few examples.

All those players did fine without college and the college game didn’t miss them one bit.

Why should the college game have to be an NBA finishing school?

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