The one-and-done rule, a one-way street in favor of the NBA, has flattened college basketball’s nose, and it’s time for a counter-punch.
As the rule stands, the NBA gets a year of free marketing and vetting of talent without spending a nickel. College basketball often gets a player whose effort needs to be coached or game is raw or does not have the same drive to win as four-year players.
It’s true that the NBA collective-bargaining agreement between the owners and the players’ union sets the rules that prohibit high school players from jumping to the NBA and allow them to declare for the draft one year later.
Still, college basketball does have a counter-punch within reach.
Here it is:
The NCAA needs to allow players who declare for the NBA Draft to hire agents certified by the players’ union. That might clean things up a little and point players toward reputable agents, instead of clowns claiming to be agents. The downside? When you can think of one, let me know.
Next, allow players who don’t like their draft positions to return to their schools. Why not? If a player who thinks he’s a definite first-round pick finds out otherwise on draft day, he can head back to his school. If he’s no longer wanted, he’s a free agent who can take a scholarship at any other school without sitting out a year.
The NCAA could make that change overnight and need not need consult the NBA before doing so. The NBA would have no say, just as college basketball has no say now.
The NCAA could even share such a plan with the NBA and see if that might motivate the owners and union to make a revision to the collective-bargaining agreement (CBA), such as allowing players to either go to the NBA out of high school or go to college and not be allowed to join the NBA until two years later. Major League Baseball has that rule, except that the period is three years, not two.
It seems the high school/two-year option would be good for college basketball, fair to the athletes and a better outcome for the NBA than drafting a player and then losing him.
If the NBA and players’ union don’t want to get together to discuss such an arrangement, the NCAA needs to go ahead and implement the rule that allows players to return to school if they don’t like the outcome of the draft. The NBA then likely would negotiate a revision to the CBA that would allow clubs to retain a drafted player’s rights for a defined period of time, be it one, two, or three years.
Or, figuring that only in rare circumstances would a player taken in the first round and therefore guaranteed two years of a hefty salary return to college, the NBA could limit the draft to one round.
The college game would have more experienced players playing, and they would be more realistic about their games, even more open to coaching once the reality of their NBA value has slapped them in the faces on draft day. Since doing it their way didn’t land them the draft spot they desired, maybe they actually would understand that it might be smart to listen to a coach with far more experience at readying players for a professional career.
The status quo’s not working for college basketball, so it’s time to get proactive.