Busting Brackets

Should NCAA Basketball and the NBA Change the Draft Eligibility Policy?


Every year at the beginning of the college hoops season many questions arise. Most are about which team will end up listening to “One Shining Moment” and bathing in confetti, but just as an important question is the one about which players will be leaving early to enter the NBA draft.

Every year it seems the draft class gets younger and younger with the majority of the top draft picks being freshman or underclassman. This year is looking to be no different, as the way to early mock drafts have at a minimum 6-8 of the top ten picks being freshman this year.

As I was looking at team previews and watching college football in particular Leonard Fournette, I began to think about the different leagues policies on underclassmen leaving early.

There is a lot of speculation that Fournette is good enough to play on Sundays right now, but being a sophomore, he still would have another season to wait before he would be eligible to leave to pursue a pro career.

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Many think a talent like Fournette would be better served to sit out next year, and not risk injury as it seems there is little hope of the NFL changing the eligibility rules for underclassmen to enter the draft.

So many of you are probably wondering, “what does all this have to do with NCAA basketball?”.

The answer to the question is another question; “would the College Basketball game benefit from a change in the underclassman entering the NBA draft policy?”.

In my humble opinion the answer is yes, but not that much. The one and done rule has changed NCAA basketball from the game I grew up watching, to a game built on renting players not developing them.

Gone are the teams with upperclassmen that seemed to dominate all season long and created such great NCAA tournament moments.

Enter the era of the power conference teams fighting for the top freshman one-and-done player who can create the most excitement. Also enter the era of the Mid-Major senior laden team whose experience is a true test in the NCAA Tournament for these college AAU teams.

How could the process for the draft be changed for the better and how would that benefit the NCAA basketball product? First I have two separate ideas for changing the draft process.

The first idea would be the most commonly talked about change, which would require players to be out of high school for two years before entering the NBA draft. This idea is what will probably eventually happen if a change is to happen.

This would allow the NBA to draft more pro ready players who have had two years of college seasoning. Most believe this idea would also make the college game a better product by leaving stellar players in school for another year.

Oct 16, 2015; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Isaiah Briscoe (13) passes the ball against forward Alex Poythress (22) and forward Skal Labissiere (1) during Kentucky Blue Madness at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Also, this would create even more parody in NCAA Basketball as teams such as Kentucky, Duke, UNC etc. would be unable to just recruit entire AAU squads each year because the coaching staff know their roster is more than likely going to be gutted by the NBA draft. Coaches such as John Calipari, who seem to be able to attract much more NBA talent than any other coach would be tested to see how good of a team builder they really are.

The only downfalls I could see in this plan would be the obvious fear of injury to an extremely talented player. However, this risk exists with the system now, a blown ACL can happen at any time. Also, being forced to play college ball for two years could make the overseas route a more attractive option for many top tier high school talent.

The second option is similar to the first, but mirrors the pro baseball model in certain aspects.

First the players would have the option to leave directly from high school to the NBA if they so choose, however a player choosing to go to college would be required to stay a minimum of two years.

This would be the best of both worlds I believe. The NBA would get the marquee players who could star right away, but those college coaches would not have to worry about a player bolting after one year for the pros.

This would allow coaches to set up their teams to make runs at titles for multiple years.

This plan like all the others has flaws. First, the college game would lose out on some major talent, as players like Ben Simmons and Skal Labissiere would more than likely never dream of putting on a college jersey.

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  • Second, what would coaches do to get these top players to give up guaranteed money for two or more years to chase a possible NCAA championship? The situation such as what allegedly went on at the University of Louisville could perhaps become very commonplace, along with coaches and boosters promising all sorts of perks to players and family members for those going the college route.

    One thing is for certain, a change is probably not going to come any time soon.

    For now the college game will just have to deal with the one and done phenomenon. However, the phenomenon is not all bad as if last season is any indication on how this season will shape up.

    It is not only highly touted freshman who lead the charge, but the upperclassmen teaching these young bucks the ropes stealing some of the spotlight.

    If the college game continues to trend upwards and popularity increases, what motivation will there be to change any eligibility rules? That my friends is the definite million dollar question.

    Next: Missouri Tigers 2015-16 Season Preview

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