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One and Done Rule Mostly Negative

Nerlens Noel after injuring his knee during his lone season with Kentucky

In 2006, NBA commissioner David Stern implemented the “one and done” rule and controversial debates over it have never ceased to stop. The rule states that any player cannot enter the NBA before the age of 19 and must be at least one year out of high school.

Why shouldn’t those who feel they have the potential to succeed in the NBA out of high school be able to do what they choose? As the past has proved some players can make it work, (Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett) and some cannot (Kwame Brown, Eddie Curry, Sebastian Telfair, and Gerald Green.) All of these guys were top prospects coming out of high school and made their own decisions and this is how it should be.

“These kids should be able to go right to the league if that’s what they choose to do . . . or they should go to college for two or three years.” This is a quote from one of the most common coaches of one and done players, Kentucky’s John Calipari. Kentucky’s program as well other powerhouse schools go through the process every year of recruiting players and planning around them only being there for one season. It is so difficult for coaches of these top programs to recruit accordingly to their future rosters because there is no telling how long some players will stay in college.

The NBA needs to rearrange these rules for college and high school players if they want a real impact to be made. The NFL requires three years out of high school to be eligible to go pro and MLB requires 3 years of college if the player decides to go to a division I school. Junior college players can go after one year and players can be drafted right after high school if they choose. These rules actually make sense. If the rules for basketball were more like they are for baseball everyone would win. Players still would have the power to choose with what they want to do, and if they choose the division I route they will have to have a more serious approach at college academia, along with developing to a greater extent for the pro level. Fans will also benefit in being able to see elite teams and matchups develop at the college level.

Who actually benefits from this rule? It certainly does not further these select stars’ academic potential. Let’s be honest, these guys know they are going to the NBA after the school year is done so the majority don’t see it necessary to keep up on any school work after the college season ends. These situations serve only to make a mockery of the term “student athlete.” These guys head to college thinking of how quickly they can get out there and get paid, not what major they are going to choose. Of course, not all star athletes approach school this way, but those who only go to college because they are not allowed in the NBA for one year and ultimately one semester of effort in school often find it hard to be motivated for class.

Along with the lack of seriousness about academics, breaking NCAA recruiting rules also becomes more likely. These players are only in college because they have to be, so why not accept the perks that may be illegally offered to them for the short time they are on campus. The school will be punished, but these guys are getting drafted either way so what do they care.

This year’s top projected draft pick and former number one high school recruit is Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins. Many believe that Wiggins has the capability to succeed in the NBA right now without a season at Kansas, similar to the successes of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. So does the one season really change Wiggins’ future? Wiggins was a lottery pick in the draft regardless even if he was not forced into going to college. When you’re number one, the only way left to go is down. Former projected number one pick of last year Nerlens Noel is a perfect example. He was all set to be drafted first overall with a huge contract waiting for him until he blew out his knee towards the end of his one and only season at Kentucky. Noel ended up being drafted number six overall and is now making around two million dollars less than number one pick Anthony Bennett. If the rule were not in place, Noel likely would have gone to league straight out of high school healthy and ready to perform. Instead, he went to college, got injured, dropped in the draft, and is sitting out his first pro season.

Since 2001, Andrew Bogut and Blake Griffin are the only number one picks to play more than one year of college basketball, not including Yao Ming and Andrea Bargnani who were drafted out of their own countries. Three of these players came right out of high school. The rule’s intention is to have players stay longer in college to further prepare for the NBA. However, the statistics prove otherwise. From 1999-2005 the average number of years spent in college for lottery picks before being drafted was 2.58 (not including high school and foreign picks). Currently with the rule being a factor, the average time spent in college is 2.19 years.

College players may feel the need to leave college early to be considered a premier player, rather than staying longer to develop because this is what most of the top picks do. So according to the numbers, the rule is not doing what it has ultimately set out to do. Some players definitely benefit from the top coaching and competition they experience at college, (Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose) but the decision should be theirs to make. Also, if choosing college the time spent there should be more than one season. The rule being how it is now, seems to be producing more negatives than positives.