I’m sick of sitting here and complaining about how bad of a season it was in college hoops and how uninspiring this year’s tournament was. It’s time to call things out for what they are and make some changes that will improve the game for players, coaches, and fans.
First off, the college game is lacking stars and recognizable players. Most of the interesting players leave school after one year and very few stay longer. The two biggest stars in the sport this year were Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker, both of whom stayed at least three years (the Jimmer just finished his senior season and Kemba completed his junior year).
When March rolls around, do we prepare ourselves to see the familiar faces from a year ago? Or do we learn about every new player based on a crash course in the tournament? The game would be a lot more enjoyable if the fans were more familiar with the players around the country.
Secondly, building powerful teams and programs is much more difficult because coaches never know when a player will leave for the NBA. Should they recruit players they think are pretty good but will at least stay all four years, or should they go after the one-and-done hero who can help win a title now? If you go for the latter strategy, you’re forced to constantly reload and it creates a fluctuation in performance. Think about it: who was the last dynasty in college hoops? It was Florida, and only because their star players decided to return to school for another year. Before that, you’d probably have to go back 20 years to Duke.
The recruiting process and scholarship process will be much easier for coaches if they know how long they’ll have players rather than being forced to guess about who will stay and who will go. This is an issue of continuity, and college basketball is sorely lacking in that regard.
So what can we do about it?
I’m suggesting the NCAA creates a rule that says if a player chooses to play college basketball, he must remain in school for three years after the time he enrolls. No more one-and-dones, no more guys leaving after two years, no insults to the academic institutions they attend by blowing off classes after a few months. Bob Knight was right when he pointed out that the one-and-done players make a mockery of the system. Players who know they will be turning pro have absolutely no incentive to attend class after their first semester in school. It really is just a waste of everyone’s time to have them there for such a short period of time.
You’re probably thinking to yourself that my proposed system is an unfair one and that it’s not right to force players to stay in college. Well I agree.
In one sense.
It’s already been proven beyond any possible doubt that some players have absolutely no need for college basketball. The last three MVP awards were won by players who went straight to the pros out of high school — LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Earlier in the decade it was Kevin Garnett who won an MVP — another straight from high school player.
When the Lakers and Celtics met in the Finals, not only were Kobe and KG playing, but they were supported by two excellent big men — Andrew Bynum and Kendrick Perkins — both of whom skipped college. The year before that, the Lakers faced the Magic in the Finals, and Orlando’s top two players were high school guys in Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis.
It’s been proven that some players are already good enough to be in the NBA straight out of high school, so there’s absolutely no reason to force them to go to college. It really is a waste of everyone’s time to prevent those players from beginning their professional careers if they are ready, and the league shouldn’t stop them. And if the concern is that the quality of play in the league will diminish, then it’s time to start utilizing the D-League for what the “D” stands for — development.
Now if we’re allowing high school seniors to enter the NBA draft but also making players who enroll in college stay three years, players will be forced to make an extremely difficult and critical decision coming out of high school. If you’re confident enough in your abilities to turn pro, you do that. If not, you enroll in a school and play three years of college ball. And what’s the worst thing that could happen to these guys? They’re forced to stay eligible and possibly learn for a few years? Oh yeah, that sounds like a horrible punishment.
If someone isn’t confident enough in their ability to turn pro straight out of high school, then maybe after three years of college they still won’t be good enough to make a living in the NBA. If that’s the case, then the three years of college will likely be the best thing to happen to them.Google+