Hey NBA, leave those kids alone

Published 6:28 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

By Staff
Goodbye Derrick Rose. So long Michael Beasley. Farewell O.J. Mayo.
It feels like we college basketball fans barely got to know you.
Now-a-days, the term one-hit wonder doesn’t just apply to musicians like Milly Vanilly, Vanilla Ice and Right Said Fred. Today, it’s a common phrase used in college basketball as more and more players graze college campuses for one season then hit the road for a chance at fortune and fame in the NBA.
As a guy who prefers the college game to the pro version, I’m fed up with it.
At last check, most universities are considered four-year institutions. So why do we let these kids go to college for one year and then split?
Just when I think my team’s got a good core of young players to make a run at a national championship, boom, two of them are gone, and it’s back to the drawing board.
But you can’t blame the kids, they’re just taking advantage of a flawed system.
They don’t want to be in college. They want money, cars and houses. They dream of shoe deals and big contracts. Their hearts are set on the NBA, but because of a dim-witted rule, they’ve got to spend one-year in college.
The NBA’s minimum age rule, established in 2005, says that to be eligible for the draft, a player must be out of high school for one year.
The NBA claims that the rule is designed to push kids towards pursuing an education.
Ahh, hogwash. Don’t give us that crap.
The real reason is to see if these kids can hack it. It’s a chance for NBA teams to see how these highly-touted high school kids stack up against some of the top kids their age. It’s an investment protection plan.
And it’s ruining the purest form of basketball we have in this country.
Bobby Knight once said in an interview with NBC that, “The NBA’s minimum-age rule is the worst thing to happen to the game of college basketball since I became a coach more than 40 years ago.”
Who can argue with the General?
It’s time for the NCAA, college coaches and administrators to take a stand and say, “we don’t think so. You’re not coming here for one year and then splitting pal.”
Fans are spending hundreds of dollars on jerseys and shirts with names like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love strewn across the back, only to see their favorite star leave after one year. At season’s end, the clothes are tossed in the corner of the closet in favor of this year’s top-recruit, who’ll likely put in his mandatory stay and then jet.
The rule needs to be ammended. And quickly.
Here’s my solution.
Give these kids a choice. You want to play in the NBA, fine. All high schoolers will be given $500,000 per year until the age of 21, if you’re selected in the first round. Second round picks get $250,000 per season. If you choose to go to college, you can come out after three years and you’re fair game for whatever dollar amount a team’s willing to pay you.
That way, you get the best of both worlds. Everyone wins. The NBA teams aren’t investing millions in some unproven punk off the streets. The guys who want to go make a living in the NBA, still get their chance. The NCAA, gets kids who want to be student-athletes. And the universities and fans get players to help their team for at least the next three years.
Hopefully Thursday will be the last time college freshman fill the NBA draft board. David Stern’s done a good enough job at destoying the NBA, let’s stop him before he kills the college game, too.