“March Madness” is without a doubt one of the most exciting times of the year for sports fans. The highlight of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is seeing the top stars from around the country competing against each other. This year’s class is headlined by Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid of Kansas, Jabari Parker of Duke and Julius Randle of Kentucky. Unfortunately for college hoops fans, this will probably be the last time that they see these players suit up for their respective schools. Barring something unexpected, these stars will be leaving for the NBA after their lone season of college basketball.
For most of college basketball history, a player leaving for the NBA after only one year in college would have been unheard of, but in recent years, it has become the norm for superstars to do this. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2005 implemented the now infamous “One and Done” rule, meaning that athletes must be out of high school for at least one year before declaring for the NBA Draft. Before this time, all-stars like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett completely bypassed the college experience and headed straight to the pros. With this no longer an option, college basketball fans are stuck cheering for guys like Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant for only one season.
I believe a change in the rules must be made for the sake of collegiate basketball. The way I see it, there are two possible options. The first option is to go back to the way things were and allow players to go straight from high school if they choose. These are 18-year-old men who are capable of making their own decisions for themselves and should be allowed to do so. Critics will argue that this increases the number of draft busts because the jump from high school to the NBA is too much for some players, names like Kwame Brown and Sebastian Telfair come to mind. I disagree completely, for every bust there’s plenty of all-star players who never stepped foot on a college campus. Drafting a player is always a risk; the fact that they were out of high school for one year does not necessarily guarantee that they are any more prepared for professional basketball.
The second option to fix college basketball is to follow the NFL approach and mandate three years removed from high school before declaring for the draft. While I prefer the first option, this one has a few benefits as well. I believe universities across the country would be in favor of this option, because it would show that an education is still somewhat of a priority. Three years allows these athletes the opportunity to earn a degree or at least be very close to one before moving on. Attending a university for only one year is completely pointless. There’s no possibility of earning a degree or even coming close. There is no educational gain of going to college for one year; these players are only going because they have to before they can declare. As a college and professional basketball fan, I think either of these options would be better than the “one and done” rule that is currently in place. For now, fans will have to enjoy the short-lived college careers of these athletes while they last.
By: Zach Parker