Once upon a time, a few stars like LeBron James didn’t pick a college out of high school: they were just drafted into the NBA. It worked for some legends, like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, but many high school stars crashed and burned without the extra college experience.
So former NBA commissioner David Stern instituted the “One-and-Done Rule”: players have to be 19 years old or a full year out of high school before they are eligible for the NBA draft.
The rule sent the best players back to college, even if only for a year. Now, the rule is about to die — but not because it didn’t successfully prevent some stars from making a terrible choice. It’s being rescinded because many, many NCAA basketball programs are facing FBI investigations.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports: “In recent days, influential voices such as former President Barack Obama and LeBron James, a vice president of the players’ union, have called for the NBA to expand its G League (an instructional minor league) to give teenagers another option besides the NCAA route.”
Additionally, NCAA president Mark Emmert has said more than once that he doesn’t think players should go to college if their only reason to do so is to play in the NBA.
Said NBA commissioner Adam Silver:
“We’re spending a lot of time on [youth basketball]. I think there is a big opportunity, on a global basis, focus on elite players in terms of better training, better fitness, so that they ultimately can be successful at the highest level,” Silver said during All-Star Weekend. “That is something from a league standpoint, together with our teams, we’re putting an enormous amount of energy and resources into.”
The goal is for the league to step in and get involved with star players while still in high school, helping with advice on nutrition and training. Windhorst reports, “All this in addition to providing professional coaching and playing techniques that could better translate to the professional game and make the eventual transition to the NBA, G League or even high-level college basketball easier.”
Lucrative NCAA basketball programs have always been attractive spots for corruption. So many rare young talents — many of whom were banking on their hard work bringing their families out of poverty — were misled by bad actors with the lure of NBA stardom. This scandal should hopefully lead to the dismantling and rebuilding of the disgraceful NCAA and many individual university programs.