Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One-and-done era a complete joke


Four years ago, when the NBA instituted a 19-year-old age limit, the breathless first thought was to declare it a lifeline for college basketball.

The Superstar has returned to college hoops! No more preps skipping college! Polish Dick Vitale’s head for the show, baby!

After the rule was announced, I called Louisville coach Rick Pitino and had a few “Isn’t this great?” questions. He sighed.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” he said.

I figured he’d damaged his brain by blowing his whistle one too many times. Then he offered his reasons for being so guarded, ending with one that’s proving disturbingly correct: Because a generation of kids have grown up figuring college wasn’t necessary to make it to the NBA, it will be a significant challenge to reprogram those who have slacked on academics and failed to develop an appreciation for college athletics.

“In some cases, recruiting some of these kids could present an incredible burden for a program,” Pitino said. “The culture is so different now.”

Four years ago, Pitino seemed like a buzz kill. Now, unfortunately, he’s a prophet.

Derrick Rose — accused of academic fraud. O.J. Mayo — accused of being funded by a street agent. Brandon Jennings — fled to Europe because he couldn’t pass the SAT. Jeremy Tyler (a Pitino recruit) — will pull a Brandon Jennings, except he’s skipping out on his senior year of high school, too.

It seems the age limit is producing as many headaches as memories.

The freshmen in the 2009 draft class represent the third group that couldn’t hop straight from high school to the NBA. The previous two freshman classes have produced 13 of the last 28 lottery picks and the top two overall selections in the 2007 and 2008 drafts.

Rose brought Memphis within a few made free throws of a championship, but several media reports last week indicated the NCAA is investigating him for having an SAT stunt double and changing his high-school transcript. The Tigers might wind up having their Final Four appearance yanked, which seems unfair, but it shows the risk Pitino referred to in recruiting kids who once thought they wouldn’t have to go to college.

USC didn’t even get an NCAA Tournament victory out of Mayo, but he might have a lasting impact. His alleged dealings with a street agent will likely put the blossoming Trojans program on probation.

It was common knowledge that Rose would struggle to pass his SAT, and there are always rumors about stand-in test takers. It was also apparent during Mayo’s high-school days that he had too many hangers-on with shady associations.

In the ridiculously competitive world of college athletics, it’s hard to blame John Calipari or Tim Floyd for pursuing the likes of Rose and Mayo. However, they don’t get to plead ignorance when they make a mistake.

Ultimately, the 19-year-old age limit is a pain. The NBA would better serve colleges — and basketball in general — by implementing a policy similar to baseball’s draft system. Let high-schoolers come out, but if they go to college, they must stay three years. It would mean college loses an even larger number of diaper dandies, but enough talent would remain to keep the college game entertaining and coaches would have a better opportunity to develop their programs the right way.

Until someone stops this mockery, we’ll be left covering our eyes often during this one-and-done era.


Martin Rosenblum 11 years ago

Is there really a concern by the NBA about the integrity of a college player?

Interestingly, they have the orientation event (we all know the unfortunate results of the last one) to counsel and educate incoming players about ethics, standards of conduct, etc. Sort of an amnesty message being sent here, I think. It's kinda like handing over the keys to a new car to a 16 year old and giving him "the talk" about responsibility. We know that they've done some typical teenage bonehead things in the past. But, we probably won't find out what they've done until later on when it's too late to inact punishment. It's a shame that an audit or due diligence couldn't be done before a player is allowed to jump into the League in order to find those skeletons.If any were found, accountability would be easier to take place before being given that "amnesty" within the NBA. It's hard to fine a kid in the NBA for infractions while he was in college for one year or probably only two semesters! HIs former university will suffer the consequences, as this article says.

Martin Rosenblum 11 years ago

Clarification on Derick Rose's contribution in the championship game. Jerry Brewer must not have seen the box scores form that game:

Rose played more minutes than any other player on both teams.

Rose had 17 attempted FGs - made 7.

Rose attempted 6 3's - made 1.

Rose led all players with 5 turnovers.

Rose had only 2 steals

Rose did attempt 4 FTs - made 3.

Rose only had 1 personal foul.

Not exactly stellar performance from a 1st round draft pick! How much was he Really into that game?

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 11 years ago

Until we as fans appreciate the quality of the character as much as the quality of the athlete, this won't change (NBA or college).

I don't know what happens behind the scenes at KU, but I personally apprecaite the fact (or luck?) that we backed off of recruits like Lance Stevenson and John Wall. The last truly questionable athlete I can remember us signing wound up getting stabed in the leg at a night club, being accused of abusing his girlfriend, and ultimately (thankfully) transfering.

Long-term success cannot be achieved or maintained by lowering your standards, ethical or otherwise.

justanotherfan 11 years ago

If the NCAA changes the rule to mimic what baseball did, then they should also be prepared to see a lot of the top players go the juco route (as elite baseball players that don't sign out of high school do). When baseball players go the juco route, they can leave after one or two years. This is something that is rarely mentioned by those saying basketball should adopt the baseball rule. That only applies if players go to a four year school out of high school.

Secondly, the thought that playing college basketball is critical to NBA success is a complete joke. I know this is a college site, and I love KU hoops, but I think the general public needs to get it out of their head that college basketball is necessary before moving on to the pros. It is not.

For one thing, the NBA is a completely different game than college. College basketball is based heavily on systems. Coach Self has a system. Coach K has a system. Howland has a system. Every big time college coach has a system that they implement. The NBA is not about systems as much as it is about talent. Remember the famous quote - Dean Smith is the only person that could hold Michael Jordan under 20 points a game. Why? Because that was UNC's system. Within a couple of years of leaving UNC, Jordan had expanded his game to the point he was scoring 35 points a night on the best players in the world.

No doubt Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and others would have been great collegiate players. But it had nothing to do with their success in the pros.

justanotherfan 11 years ago

And for those who want to point out the flops, here's a list of the "straight from high school" players since 1995, along with their career ppg, championships, years pro (through this season) and all star games. A star indicates that they are still in the NBA. I'm even including guys that went undrafted just to prove a point.

Kevin Garnett 20.2, 1, 14, 13 Kobe Bryant 25.1, 3, 13, 12 Jermaine O'Neal 14.3, 0, 13, 6 Tracy McGrady 22.1, 0, 12, 7 Stephen Jackson 15.4, 1, 8, 0 Al Harrington 13.8, 0, 11, 0 Rashard Lewis 16.9, 0, 9, 2 Korleone Young - undrafted Jonathan Bender - 5.6, 0, 7, 0 (retired due to chronic knee injuries) Leon Smith - undrafted Darius Miles 10.1, 0, 7, 0 (missed two years with knee injuries) Deshawn Stevenson 8.6, 0, 9, 0 Kwame Brown 7.0, 0, 7, 0 Tyson Chandler 8.8, 0, 8, 0 Eddy Curry 13.4, 0, 8, 0 DeSagana Diop 2.1, 0, 8, 0 Ousmanne Cisse - played one game with Orlando in 2002 Amare Stoudemire 21.1, 0, 7, 4 Lebron James 27.5, 0, 6, 5 Travis Outlaw 9.6, 0, 6, 0 Ndudi Ebi - scored 43 points in 19 games over two seasons Kendrick Perkins 5.6, 1, 6, 0 James Lang - back injury, has never appeared in an NBA game. Now plays in Turkey. Dwight Howard 17.3, 0, 5, 3 Shaun Livingston 7.3, 0, 4, 0 (had an ugly knee injury in his third year) Robert Swift 4.3, 0, 4, 0 (missed a year with ACL injury) Sebastian Telfair 8.2, 0, 5, 0 Al Jefferson 14.9, 0, 5, 0 Josh Smith 13.8, 0, 5, 0 JR Smith 11.9, 0, 5, 0 Dorell Wright 5.9, 1, 5, 0 Martell Webster 8.1, 0, 4, 0 (played only 5 minutes this year before being injured) Andrew Bynum 8.8, 0, 4, 0 (missed significant time last two years with knee injury) Gerald Green 7.5, 0, 4, 0 CJ Miles 5.9, 0, 4, 0 Monta Ellis 16.0, 0, 4, 0 Louis Williams 9.0, 0, 4, 0 Andray Blatche 6.7, 0, 3, 0 Amir Johnson* 3.7, 0, 4, 0

Among these players, two went undrafted. Three others had nothing more than a cup of coffee in the league. The other 34 are still in the league.

Of those 34, 8 have been All-Stars (that's nearly a quarter, a much higher percentage than any other group, and almost twice as many as players that have washed out completely). 5 have been a part of championship teams (impressive, considering most have been selected by bottom feeder teams). 16 have career averages in double figures. Oh, and the two teams that are in the Finals this year both start two American players with NO collegiate experience (Bryant, Bynum for LA, Howard, Lewis for ORL).

That's pretty surprising that of the 39 straight to the NBA products, three times as many (16) have double figure career averages as the washouts (5). The straight to the NBA bust theory is a bust itself!

Marcia Parsons 11 years ago

You make some good points, justanotherfan, but with regard to the junior college comments, I think the proponents of the three-year requirement are trying to eliminate the one-and-dones for colleges. That is still achieved if a player opts for junior college instead of a four-year college. As for needing to play college ball, I disagree that no one needs it. Many players need significant time to mature both physically and mentally before they can take the grind of the NBA. Even a talent like Brandon Rush came into college totally lacking in defensive and ball handling skills. Don't you think his development in those areas during college has helped him succeed in the NBA? LeBron, Kobe, etc. are the exceptions, not the rule. Their superior talent was enough to carry them through the early growing pains, so I agree that they didn't need college ball. The NBA is definitely a different game, but I think most players need to develop before they make the jump.

justanotherfan 11 years ago


I'm not saying that some players don't need more development. I agree that many players arrive in college nowhere near ready for the NBA. My point is that players don't need to go to college to prepare to be professional players.

If you are training to be a professional basketball player (which one and dones are, if you are honest with yourself), you need to dedicate the time, effort, etc. to your craft. NCAA rules have limits on how much guys can be coached, how long they can practice, etc. If you are training to improve as a basketball player, those limits do not help you develop. That's part of the reason guys leave early anyway. They have maxed out what college can offer them in terms of improvement.

If there were a full scale developmental league, similar to baseball's minor league system, I think far fewer players would pursue college basketball, honestly. Remember, D-1 baseball is not where the most talented high school prospects go. D-1 baseball is primarily where the late blooming talent ends up. The prodigies end up in the minors straight out of high school, where they are coached and developed (and paid).

However, if that system were to change, the NCAA would lose its cash cow. Right now, the college basketball regular season is huge. But if the top 40 or 50 players every year jumped from high school into some type of NBA development program, the more casual fans of college basketball would wane (similar to baseball, where only the diehards follow it until the tournament starts). That costs the NCAA money. That costs the schools money.

The schools may claim they hate the one and done rule, but they know that a rule requiring a longer stay (two or more years) would have more top players heading the juco route, or Europe. They already saw that no rule at all cost them one or two years of Kobe Bryant in a Villanova uniform, or Rashard Lewis bringing back the prestige of the University of Houston, or Lebron James leading Akron to the tournament. So they complain, but seek no reform, because they want John Wall leading the break for Kentucky rather than leading the break for the Clippers.

Sure, they will investigate after the fact and decry the death of the student athlete, but they won't lose a cent of the revenue that Memphis' run to the title game created, or a dime of ticket sales generated at USC or K-State because Mayo and Beasley played their year there. And that's just the way they want it.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

You guys are missing that the NBA likes the one-and-done because the college route helps develop NAMES they can market in the League. I don't recognize half those names on justanotherfan's list because most of them probably spent their early NBA years buried on the bench. Now if they went to college, they would have dominated and developed some name-recognition. Then the NBA can market them as established stars.

KUFan90 11 years ago

Agree ohioburg.

I might be in the minority but I like the way things are now. Think of the wonderful games we got to witness between the Hawks and Kevin Durant/Texas just as an example. I've enjoyed watching the one and dones in college and hope it continues.

Sorry but I don't buy the "when they were growing up they thought they could jump straight to the NBA so they didn't study and now we have changed the game on them" argument. There are going to be headaches with any situation. Teams will have to take accountability and responsibility to check out their recruits and back of those coming with warning flags (ala Lance). I don't buy the argument that we need to protect college coaches from this situation so we need to change the rules again, which is the angle this article takes.

justanotherfan 11 years ago


Questions: Do you follow the NBA regularly? Could you name the starting lineup for six NBA teams?

Those aren't questions to challenge your intelligence. Your points are valid. My point is simply that your failure to recognize half those names my be a reflection of the fact that you don't follow the NBA enough to recognize those names, especially seeing as at least 20 of the players on my list above were regular starters during this past NBA season.

As for established stars, Adam Morrison was a huge college star. He's now buried on the bench for the Lakers. Before that he was buried on the bench for Charlotte. The NBA can't market him. College didn't help that.

Tyler Hansborough has been the biggest collegiate star the last two years. He will probably be an 8th or 9th man somewhere in the NBA. The NBA won't market him. He probably won't play enough to be marketed.

Marketing college stars isn't what the NBA wants, because you can't market guys that aren't going to play (and play well) in the NBA. They want stars. Lebron James was a star. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady - Stars. That's why the NBA markets them.

Or let's flip it. Let's go through some NBA starters that did go to college. Where did they go? Don't cheat.

Mo Williams (Cleveland Cavaliers) Courtney Lee (Orlando Magic) Trevor Ariza (LA Lakers) Kenyon Martin (Denver Nuggets) Josh Howard (Dallas Mavericks) Glen Davis (Boston Celtics) Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks) Carl Landry (Houston Rockets)

ku98 11 years ago

Justanotherfan, I have enjoyed reading your posts. One small mistake though... Leon Smith was drafted in the 1st round by San Antonio, and did play a few games. It does not change anything to what you wrote, and I agree with you for the most part... Also, your list does not include guys such as Taj McDavid, who applied to the NBA draft and never got a sniff from anyone. And the 8 guys you listed there... I have 8 correct answers... Gotta make your quizzes harder. :)

GeoHawk15 11 years ago

I completely agree with justanotherfan that the NBA is not concerned about marketing college stars. When I watch an NFL broadcast, the school a player attended is always listed under their position (for some game intro's, the player even states his school on camera). Granted I don't watch the NBA consistently, but I rarely see any reference to a player's alma mater during pre-game intro's. Not sure why that is, but it does suggest to me that when it comes to the NBA, the player's talent makes him marketable, not what college he went to.

As for the problems/criticisms with the "one and done" era, I'm not savvy enough to support or suggest the right solution. What I do know is that while one and dones do provide entertainment during their brief collegiate careers, the NCAA is basking in hypocrisy when is comes to advocating for the concept of the "student athlete."

ku_foaf 11 years ago


Good info! I'm not much of an NBA follower, but that was my belief that few that went straight from high school really became big stars. They are still 18 year olds among much bigger, stronger, far more experienced guys. Most have a few years where they have to learn (wasn't that the case with Kobe?) and improve before they rise to greatness, if they do. Lebron is very much an exception. It was clear he was special when his teammates were responding to an 18 year old newcomer leading the team.

Funny to hear some of those names, like Ndudi Ebi. Try and convince someone he might have not been better off going to college! What an ego.

Gerald Green is another. He would have been the hottest thing in college BB. Still young, but hasn't really blossomed.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

Justafan, you’re right. I’m only a casual fan of the NBA but I’m who that strategy is targeted to capture. None of the major sports can thrive on their hard-core fans alone – they need the dollars of the masses. Listening to the radio the other day I heard some talking head say “the key to tonight’s game is J.R. Smith”. I thought to myself “Who? Not Chauncey Billups (CU), not Carmelo (Syr)?” He may have been right but, as a casual fan, I wasn’t tuning in to see J.R. Smith play. A more knowledgeable NBA fan probably would but not the mass audience. That’s where the “one-and-done name recognition” strategy works. Yeah, cream rises to the top eventually but Dwight Howard wasn’t a house-hold name until his superman dunk at the all-star game (though his performance this year certainly puts him in the star class).

Just for fun:
Mo Williams (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Alabama Not sure why I know that one. Darnell’s teammate, Courtney Lee (Orlando Magic) – Western Kentucky. I’m in southwest Ohio. They make some noise in the area every now and then. Kenyon Martin (Denver Nuggets) – UC. Again, I’m in southwest, OH. I saw him develop from Erkel to Stud in his years as a Bearcat. Too bad he broke his leg right before the NCAA tournament or they might have another banner. Josh Howard (Dallas Mavericks) – Wake Forest. Skip Prosser (RIP) coached at Xavier before moving to Wake so I followed them a little bit. Glen Davis (Boston Celtics) – LSU. With a name like “Big Baby”, how can you not have heard of him?

Kobe Bryant, Le Bron, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady were all names before they hit the NBA. Most of the straight to the NBA on your list were not and still aren’t regardless of how good they are.

ChicagoJHawk 11 years ago

I agree with justanotherfan. Not all of these players NEED to go to college to develop their game.

If they don't make the NBA there are other options, NBA D League, Europe etc.

In other sports peple turn pro when they're 14, 15, 16...not sure why it's such a big deal when it comes to basketball. They do it in tennis, gymnastics (I think), & definitely basketball in Europe.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

What needs to be fixed about the one-and-done needs to come from the NCAA and not the NBA. Let high schoolers declare for the draft. If you don’t get picked you can go to college but you lose a year of eligibility and have to redshirt as a freshman and your scholarship doesn’t go against the scholarship limit that redshirt year so as to cut coaches some slack on recruiting a potential draftee. If you get drafted but get cut, you lose two years for each year in the NBA.

ChicagoJHawk 11 years ago

Another great idea that a friend of mine came up with is to let them declare for the draft straight out of high school if they want. If they decide to go to college instead & leave early, make them pay the scholarship money back. Seriously, if they're making millions, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars then what's $10 or $20 000 to them?

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

K Young was drafted by Detroit - second round, I believe.

Eurekahwk 11 years ago

Yeah, people act like Derrick Rose was the team for Memphis. The hype on him has overridden the fact that it was actually CDR who was doing all the damage. We played the junk defense as a ploy to spell our guys, and the "one" of the box and 1 was geared towards CDR. The box allowed Rose to get his open looks. Until that point, he had about 10 points after 30 minutes of action. And Sherron had him especially messed up.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

It wasn't K Young but I seem to remember someone else who was held up as the poster-boy for not going straight to the NBA. I seem to remember video of him crying when he realized he wasn't going to be drafted and had blown his opportunity for a scholarship.

Martin Rosenblum 11 years ago


Glad to see that somebody else recognized the lackluster game that Rose had against us for whatever reason. (see my breakdown in the second post to this story)

18 total points in a championship game does not equal a #1 draft pick. Maybe the same guy that took his SAT was really the one playing against us!

truefan 11 years ago

I agree that the OAD crowd is going to have some trouble for a while, but since the change has been made I would assume that these kids with D1/NBA talent will aknowledge that they need to be able to pass the SATs to play in college and eventually the NBA. I'm probably being naive, but common sense says that the next group of highly touted players would start preparing themselves for the least I would hope. I guess it doesn't really make sense though, I'm not sure what passing the SATs has to do with passing a ball, but if the NBA let the rule be made, then maybe they are having just as much trouble with the kids jumping straight from high school into the pros (Kobe and Howard semm to be working out just fine though). I would hate to see the three year rule though, maybe that's just because college baseball is pretty boring, but I would like to see more talent in college. If we put the three year rule in place every player in the top 50 would enter their name in the draft or jump to Europe. College basketball would lose its luster and importance.

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