Lately a lot of people have been speaking out about the so-called ‘one-and-done’ basketball players; the guys that attend college on a basketball scholarship for one year and then make the jump to the NBA, really seem to upset people. This can be taken a couple of ways. There are the NBA purists who don’t like these unrefined players coming into the League and having to sit on the bench for a couple of years while they learn the game as opposed to four-year college players who come to the NBA as a much more finished product. There are also people that think the practice ruins college basketball because teams end up being inconsistent and it also allows the major programs to recruit blue chip players year after year.
Count former Indiana coach Bob Knight among the former. “I think it’s a disgrace,” Knight told The Indianapolis Star in reference to the practice of leaving early. “If I was an NBA general manager, I would never want to take a kid 18, 19-years-old, a year out of college. I’d wait until someone else worked two or three years with him to adjust him to the NBA and I’d trade a draft pick.”
NBA commissioner David Stern recently came out against the early dropout policy as well. “A college could always not have players who are one and done,” Stern said. “They could do that. They could actually require the players to go to classes.
“Or they could get the players to agree that they stay in school, and ask for their scholarship money back if they didn’t fulfill their promises. There’s all kinds of things that, if a bunch of people got together and really wanted to do it, instead of talk about it …”
Of course, this statement is self-serving coming from Stern. His teams would love the chance to be able to evaluate players for an additional three years. This could cut down on the number of busts being drafted each year. Ironically, the explosion of one and done players was created by Stern and the NBA owners. Once they determined, a few years back, that players must be at least 19-years-old or have played somewhere professionally in order to be allowed to play in the NBA, a lot of players that may have attempted to go straight to the NBA, have decided to park themselves in school for a year.
The schools aren’t mad and the University of Kentucky is a good example of this. The Wildcats have five players (three sophomores and two freshmen) who very well could be first round picks in this year’s NBA Draft. So, the NBA is gaining some good players while UK, which won the national championship a few weeks ago, is now losing all five of its’ starters.
Other criticism includes the fact that these kids aren’t completing their studies and earning college degrees. This group includes Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.
“It’s not even so much about lottery busts,” Cuban said. “It’s about kids’ lives that we’re ruining. Even if you’re a first-round pick and you have three years of guaranteed money — or two years now of guaranteed money — then what? Because if you’re a bust and it turns out you just can’t play in the NBA, your ‘rocks for jocks’ one year of schooling isn’t going to get you far.
“I just don’t think it takes into consideration the kids enough. Obviously, I think there’s significant benefit for the NBA. It’s not my decision to make, but that’s my opinion on it.”
If Cuban was really concerned about the kids, he would want them to get into the NBA as soon as possible. The difference between joining the NBA at 18-years–old and joining at 22 could be millions of dollars. If you come into the League a few years earlier, then you will more than likely sign an additional contract (worth millions) throughout the course of your career.
I find it funny how people like Cuban are so concerned with these kids not getting a college degree. How is it that people are so concerned that DeMarcus Cousins was unable to earn a degree but they have no concern for the education of kids that don’t play sports?
The point of college is to prepare students for a career in whatever area it is that they specialize in. In the case of athletes, that profession is sports. If kids can get to the League and begin earning money, why should they continue to play in college for no pay?
Also, many people have a problem with Black people making money… especially more money than they are making. A lot of the negative perception of one and done players has to do with that as the overwhelming majority of college basketball players are Black.
Tom Izzo gets it. When asked by The New York Times’ if the perception of a college basketball team would be different if the players were white, the Michigan State head basketball coach, who is White, responded, “I want to answer that as honestly as I can. I think it would be different. I hate to say that. It’s sad for me to say, but it’s probably the truth.”
The truth is that White athletes in the same situation would be considered at best, “heroes” and at worst, “lucky.” Those players would be praised for being great athletes and having the opportunity to get into the NBA and start earning money as early as 19-years-old.
Izzo offered the example of Zach Randolph who played for him at Michigan State for only one year. Randolph wanted to go pro after his first year and Izzo supported the decision. That was in 2001. Since that time, Zach has earned more than $150 million.
I wonder how much those kids that hung around school for four years to get a chemistry degree are making?