The NCAA and NBA Have to Address Player Eligibility for the NBA Draft to Save Both Sports

by Dirty on April 8, 2011

Betting on 2011 March Madness




I will not name any names of players in this article because I don’t want the debate to become about players who made the right decision and those who made the wrong decision of either leaving early from college or to forgo college altogether to enter the NBA Draft. I also will not bring into the equation kids not getting an education either as that is a total discussion by itself. Lets just concentrate on the game of basketball as a whole.

I have been thinking about this for several years now and was always of the belief that once you become 18 you can make the decision to do as you please and have the right to work anywhere you want if you have the ability.  I still believe that in most instances, but not when it comes to Athletics and kids who have been told their whole lives by pariah’s that they are the next Michael Jordan since they were 10 years old.  This years NCAA Tournament was the straw that broke the camels back for me.  Never in the history of the Tournament has it been to where 15-20 teams could have won the National Championship.  Nothing against Connecticut but they are not even in the top 10 teams in the NCAA this year they just got hot at the right time.  Usually you have one of the top 4 or 5 teams to win the National Title and could make a legitimate claim to winning it.  Not This Year.

Butler shot a abysmal 18% from the floor and a VCU team who couldn’t even win their conference title made it to the Final Four along with Kentucky and Connecticut.  Kansas was most likely the best team in the country most of the season and got beat by VCU handily.  My problem is not Kansas losing as the best team doesn’t always win the National Title but the parity that has become major college basketball that would allow virtually a play in team (VCU) and a 8 Seed that struggled to win their own Mid-Major Conference to make the final four.  With that being said as was evidenced with the close games of the tournament almost throughout that you could say there was very little difference in any of the teams that made it to at least the Sweet Sixteen and most likely the round of 32.  We could have easily had a Final Four of teams who had .500 Conference records if the ball had bounced one way or another.

Don’t get me wrong I love the Cinderella Story and it makes for great story lines and compelling drama. That is all well and good.  I am talking about the toll it is having on our Student Athletes and the game of basketball we love in the NCAA and NBA.  The Game is ever changing as it should be, but there is one thing the NCAA and NBA needs to implement and it is now possible with the founding of the NBA Developmental League to take place of the CBA they used as a Per Se Minor League for years.

They need to implement the NCAA/MLB eligibility for the draft rule. Either enter the draft right out of High School and if you don’t get drafted you are eligible to sign as a team and be sent to the NBADL.  If you enroll into a 4 year school you have to be 21 to enter the draft or after your junior season. If you go to a JUCO you can enter the draft after two years.  the JUCO route will not be a problem as JUCO basketball is not that big as it would be a non revenue sport and many schools can only afford to have smaller sports that don’t cost a lot to fund.

This needs to be done because the college game is losing its next great players because they are only in school for one year now with the most ignorant rule ever created by saying a kid had to be 19 to enter the draft.  This only expedited kids leaving school from two to three years to one.  Before this rule it was understood that if you went to college kids usually stayed thru their sophmore season or their junior years. Very few were talented enough to make it straight from High School to the Pros and their were enough failures to use as an example to push kids to college.  Implementing this rule would improve both games by giving NCAA Member Schools with more experienced and Talented players and give fans continuity with players at their school instead of a revolving door. It would also allow players who make it in the NBA to be more experienced and ready to play and teams not having to draft them high and spend time developing them while paying them millions of dollars and it being basically Russian Roulette on whether it works out.

The NCAA Game would get back to becoming the game we have loved and March Madness would go back to being the Tournament we loved and grew up with.  The game of basketball has slowly deteriorated over the last 20 years with more and more players leaving early and not being ready for the next level.  They need the extra maturation process not only physical but mentally to play the game the right way.  We would get back to having GREAT College Basketball Teams instead of 30 very good ones, 50 good ones and 200+ mediocre or bad teams in Major College basketball.

The NBA Game would improve overall by having more mature and experienced players that are ready to learn and contribute to the highest level of basketball in the world.  The NBA should already know this because of the transition it went thru after Magic, Bird, Thomas, Barkley, Jordan, etc retired from the game.  It became a league of Individual players and a league of great athletes.  The game became unwatchable almost and the NBA didn’t wake up until our great players quit going to the Olympics and World Championships and started getting their rear ends kicked by teams around the world with half the talent but played team basketball.  The NBA made that transition and needs to make this one as well.  It would also help in salary escalation as well.  It would keep players on the bench of NBA teams mid salaried veterans making league minimums or salary exceptions who have proven themselves instead of some greenhorn who can’t contribute at all making $5 million+ a year.  Players who can’t hack it get sent down to the NBADL to develop.  Teams could even have a couple of levels of minor leagues like AAA and AA to keep players playing and to develop their skills.

This needs to be done as the game is slowly deteriorating and it’s culmination so far was the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament.  How much longer do we have to watch mediocre basketball at both levels and players leave our favorite schools to languish away on the bench in the NBA and never materialize into the players they could have been if they stayed in School or played in the NBADL?  And if something isn’t done the mediocre college players will become the mediocre NBA players of the future.

Kenny Smith of TNT, and former NCAA All American and NBA All-Star, hit the nail on the head on one of the NCAA pregame programs talking about the Big East.  He said he talked to several of the point guards of teams in the tournament and asked them who in the league they could see playing against for the next 10 years and they could name only a few players.  He said when he played every school in the ACC had several players he knew would make it in the NBA.  Charles Barkley agreed and it was like that all over College Basketball just not that long ago.  Lets get the game we grew up with and loved back to Greatness and NOT Mediocrity.

Maybe the success of all these reality TV shows has dulled the American senses and made them accept mediocrity instead of demanding greatness.

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