Ohio St guard Evan Turner and Kentucky guard John Wall both announced they will be forgoing the remainder of their college careers to enter this summer's NBA Draft. Both Turner and Wall project to be top-5 picks - possibly even going 1-2 in the draft. There is no doubt that both of these players have massive NBA potential, and should make their new teams better. All this, and yet I see no problem with Turner going pro....and a huge problem with Wall's ability to go pro. I have nothing against John Wall. I've never met him. He seems like a good enough kid, and he should make a very good NBA player. As a matter of fact, he should be fighting for NBA Rookie of the Year right now.
After the 2004 NBA Draft, the NBA decided to force high school basketball players to attend college for at least 1 year before being allowed to turn pro. The logic that David Stern used was that the 18-year old kids were not ready for the rigors of the NBA lifestyle and it gave them another year to mature. So, in one year - of not attending classes (because exactly what incentive do they have to attend classes if they are going to be bolting after one year?), not really being a college student, other than wearing the school name on their jersey twice a week, they are supposed to magically be more mature a year later? Really?
Let's say I graduate high school and I know that the profession I will be going into doesn't require college. Sure, going to college and getting a degree would hone my skills, but it is not required.....am I now forced to at least "experience the college lifestyle" for a year before going into that profession? Um, no. College is not for everyone. Athletes are in a unique position to get to use their skills to get a college degree. If they so choose. By telling them they have to attend college for one year, they are experiencing nothing. They are not true student-athletes. They are merely athletes who may or may not be getting paid by the university in order to get the University more money - from boosters, TV deals and going far in the NCAA tournament so that the coach can then go out and recruit the next batch of 17 & 18-year olds who plan on spending exactly one year at the University. How exactly does this help that child grow up?
MLB has a rule.....you enter the draft directly out of high school or you attend college for at least three years before you can re-enter the draft. The NFL's rule is simple - you can not enter the NFL draft until you are three years removed from high school. I like Major League Baseball's rule better, but I am good with both. MLB has their rule, mainly because 99% of players spend a couple seasons in the minors seasoning anyway. But I am good with both leagues' rules because it forces the student to commit to at least three years of college study before he can turn pro. So at least in theory, they have to somewhat care about classwork, or risk being suspended during their season.
Additionally, these universities are committing scholarships to students who plan on spending no more than one year at their institution. Meanwhile, the marginal player who will commit to spending all 4 years in school, and maybe even attend a class or two, now must live on a partial scholarship or no scholarship at all. Essentially, we have turned the NCAA into the hired gun league. 4, count them, 4 freshmen from this year's Kentucky basketball team are turning pro. Honestly, what was the point? Kentucky had a great team. Unfortunately, they could not have played in the NBA though, because they wouldn't have fit under the salary cap (ok, obviously, the last part is said tongue-in-cheek, but you get the point).
Ask Kobe or Dwight Howard or LeBron if they've had trouble adjusting to the NBA lifestyle. In 2004, Howard was selected first overall instead of UConn Center Emeka Okefor. At the time, the pick was widely criticized- because Okefor had college seasoning, while Howard was coming straight out of high school. Any questions now?
The NCAA did not like seeing George Mason get to the Final Four. They did not like seeing their product "watered down" because their best talent was jumping right to the NBA. So, they needed to create a way to have the best players show up for at least a year. And from that standpoint, it worked - Derek Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Xavier Henry and the like, have all shown up for one year, made their teams better, and excited college crowds. To the benefit of............the NCAA. Derek Rose allegedly didn't even take his own SATs. He allegedly paid another student to take them for him so that he could get into Memphis and play basketball for one year. So really, what's the point? Rose should have had the ability to say, you know what, my one discernible skill in this world is that I can see things on a basketball court that less than 1% of 1% of the rest of the population can see. I can run the point better than 99.99999% of people can. And therefore, I don't need to take an SAT in order to earn millions. But David Stern and the NCAA said he did. And the sad thing is, he probably never even took those SATs.
David Stern is one of the biggest scam artists in all of sports. His drafts are rigged, as are his playoffs. He is the architect of two very juicy conspiracy theories - that he forced Michael Jordan into retirement for two years as a way of suspending him for his gambling problem without actually suspending him; and sending one of his top officials - Gary Bettman - to go run the NHL into the ground, right as the NHL was about to pass the NBA in American popularity. He runs these scams and we let him get away with it. And now he is forcing 18 year old kids to go to college for one year, and probably receiving a healthy kick back from the NCAA for his cooperation.