NBA Draft Age Requirement Is Handcuffing NCAA Basketball
Despite all of the awesome moments that come with the NCAA Basketball season, the sport loses so much talent to the NBA Draft each year. In order to raise the excitement and congruity in the world of college basketball, the NCAA needs to convince the NBA to raise the requirement of draftees to remain in college basketball for more than one year.
Currently, basketball players cannot go straight from high school to the NBA like LeBron James did back in 2003. The last year players could do this was 2006 and David Stern’s policy change was a wise one as it forced high school ballers to prove they could perform against better competition. Although it worked out for LeBron, there were so many high-school-to-NBA flops who failed miserably like Sebastian Telfair and Robert Swift.
So now high school stars must essentially commit to a college program for at least a year, but this system causes a merry-go-round of fantastic talent funneling through the elite group of teams. Yesterday’s news brought the announcement that two of the top 5 high school recruits both signed with the Duke Blue Devils and it is likely that Coach K will only have Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor for a year or two at best before they head off as lottery picks. The chances of either of these future freshman phenomena or their current 2013 predecessors like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle making it to their sophomore years undeclared for the draft are slim to none.
With the constant coming and going of most of the greatest freshman stars from the nation’s best teams, new top-tier recruits have less reason to go to the smaller market schools. Each year, there is an opportunity for these standout, incoming freshmen to be the “big man on campus” for one year, skyrocketing their draft stock and then heading to the NBA to get paid big. This oligarchy gives Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and a small handful of the other elite teams the opportunity to snag all of the best talent each year and limits the spread of skilled players throughout the NCAA.
In order for college basketball to be a more even playing field, the NBA needs to increase the draft requirement to at least one more year. This would not only balance out the talent spread, but it would also encourage these athletes to finish their education. The only problem with this plan is that it will likely never happen as basketball, even at the collegiate level, is a business and businesses don’t like to wait. One can hope there may be a change some day, but until then, we can still enjoy the NCAA Basketball craze every March.