In recent years, college basketball and the NBA draft have been dominated by freshmen athletes. Year after year, college basketball powerhouses lose multiple freshmen players to the NBA draft. After a league rule change in 2007, players must be 19 years-old and be a year removed from high school to be drafted into the NBA. The rule change created the era of the “one-and-done”, meaning players attend college for one year and take their talents to the NBA following the season. This idea has changed the landscape of college basketball and has sparked many debates about changing the age rules of the NBA.
The landscape of college basketball has been changed with the “one-and-done.” College basketball programs lose their best players after one year and have to reload their roster with highly-touted high schoolers. This process has made college legends hard to come across. High school players making the jump to the NBA did not become popular until the early 2000s, when LeBron James made the process look easy. Before then, most high school players would commit to a university and generally stay there for two or three years before declaring for the NBA draft.
Sports fans got to witness players turn into legends over time like Larry Bird, Larry Johnson, and Christian Laettner. Now-a-days, we rarely see a great player stay longer than two seasons. In my opinion, there are only two players who have earned legendary status in the last ten years of college basketball; that being J.J. Redick of Duke and Doug McDermott of Creighton. Both players stayed all four years and ended up finishing their careers as top-15 scorers in college basketball history. They received tons of respect and were celebrated for staying.
I understand why players leave after a year of college basketball. Young players have had success in the NBA and there are millions of dollars waiting for them. As a fan of college basketball, I want to see these players develop into legends and create dynasties within the game. If more players remained in school, the incoming high school talent would be dispersed throughout instead of the same teams reloading with the most talented players. I do believe that if an 18-year-old wants to play in the NBA, he should be allowed to do that.
My suggested rule change would be to allow high school graduates to declare for the NBA draft, but if they choose to play in college instead, they have to stay for a minimum of two years. That gives those players a chance to develop in college and create a legacy for themselves. Forcing players to stay for two years would help create leverage for players to stay in school even longer.
This is a strange college basketball world we have now and I hope to see some change soon.