Personal successes are not always determined college attendance or a degree. The likes of John D. Rockefeller, Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney did not attend college, let alone earn a degree, and they made influential contributions to society.
Beginning in 2005, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement states, “All drafted players must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft.”
Due to the age restriction, many basketball players who deemed themselves ready for the NBA, had to play at least one year in college, while others, such as Brandon Jennings, play a season in Europe.
The NBA needs to eliminate their age restriction and allow high school graduates to enter themselves in the draft the year they complete school. Under any other circumstance, skill level alone deems your readiness to compete professionally.
In fact, Guan Tianlang, a 14-year-old golfer, made the cut for the Masters in April.
Serena Williams, one of the top professional tennis players in the world, competed in her first pro tournament at 14 as well.
Some of the most skilled talents the NBA has seen have come straight from high school. Imagine forcing MVP, All- Star championship players, who have dominated the league from the age of 18, like Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to go to college.
Heck, even Kyrie Irving, 2012 Rookie of the Year, 3-point shooting champion and two-time All- Star, only played eight games in college before he was injured at Duke.
Many players have voiced their opinions on the issue. Bill Walker, a 2008 second round draft pick said, in pre draft interview via “High School Hoops Magazine,” “I’m against it. I don’t see why you have to be 19 to play a game of basketball when you can be 18 and go to war for our country and die. It’s ridiculous.”
Jerryd Bayless, a first rounder in the same draft, voiced his opinion to the magazine as well, “It’s not fair at all. If a tennis player can go pro at 13, I don’t understand why a basketball player can’t go pro at 18.”
I know those are not household names to the average hoops fan, but they have a point. Players deserve the choice.
Many wonder, did former commissioner Stern have too much control? Should he have been able to deny these players the pursuit of a living, if they think they are ready?
Players will continue to play college basketball. There were only 43 players to declare from high school to the NBA. After Bill Willoughby declared for the draft from high school in 1975, Kevin Garnett was the next player to do so in 1995, 20 seasons later.
That proves that it was in fact a controllable number of high school players declaring for the draft. Players that felt they were ready made the jump prior to 2005, and those who felt they needed college to develop more went to college.
David Stern worked directly with the NCAA to push a higher age limit. The NBA collective bargaining agreement was being ratified in 2005, a perfect time for Stern to implement the rule. The fact that players do not even have an option anymore is unfair.
“We want to go back to the way it was,” Derek Fisher, former NBA Players Association president, said in an interview found on ESPN.com.
“The players have always been philosophically opposed to it. The vast majority of players feel a player should have the right to make a living. If he has the talent and wants to make money to help his family, he should have that right. It’s just a matter of principle.”
This rule is also hurting college basketball, because forcing kids to play one year is just wasting scholarship space for a committed student athlete. These kids only have to go to class until the season is over, wasting money. People are teaming up in AAU fashion for one year tryouts.
However, it can be argued that players need to gain maturity, no matter how NBA-ready they are.
The reason there are college athletics is to mature and continue to ready you for the real world.
College coaches are there to mold their players into professionals.
Many argue that the NBA isn’t going anywhere, and the fact remains that most players need to grow up, mentally, physically and emotionally, before they can handle a pro athlete’s life.
My response to those in favor of players attending at least one year of college?
The NBA isn’t going anywhere, but draft stock could decrease. What if the player gets injured in college? You don’t know how bad the kid needs that money to help out his family. As I said, school is not for everyone.
It’s their life, let them choose their path.
By Brian Saunders