Eric Wormus

One-and-done.

If you have ever rooted for a playoff team that is the one phrase you hope to avoid like the plague. One-and-done teams get into the playoffs giving their fans dreams of championships only to be bounced in the first round. Teams try to avoid the one-and-done label like it’s a crazy ex-girlfriend at a bar.

Yet in college basketball, superstar freshmen covet one-and-done. They put in their obligatory year at College X and then promptly jump to the National Basketball Association where the sweet lures of money, fame and women are too much to pass up.

The NBA put in a rule mandating that players be at least one year removed from high school graduation to enter the NBA. It was meant to “help” the players by giving them some college education and to help college basketball. It has done neither.

The superstar athletes choose a school with the intention of playing, showcasing their skills for a year and then leaving. The days of developing players and programs are over. College campuses have become little more than mercenary schools, letting players hang out for a year and then leave.

The best college coaches used to recruit players who would fit in their system for at least three years, usually four. They took unpolished talent and buffed it until it shined.

Think Bobby Knight.

Regardless of what you think about his techniques on and off the court, he recruits kids and graduates his players. And he has won 900 career games. Now all a coach has to do is recruit the next crop of superstars and stand back and watch.

Thad Matta “revitalized” Ohio State University’s basketball program last year. Then the star freshmen left and the Buckeyes are only 3-2 in the Big Ten. That’s not great coaching.

The NBA thought it would be a good idea to have kids spend at least one year in college.

My question is: Why?

To be a full-time student, you only have to enroll for 12 credit hours in a semester. That means a kid can enroll in 24 credit hours of all survey classes for a year and then leave. If a team makes it to the championship game, the season ends during the first week of April. Every other team is done during March. What motivation does a kid have to attend class once his season is over if he is just going to jump to the NBA anyway?

The NBA had a great chance to make real, meaningful changes in the rules but they missed the boat. All they had to do was look over at how Major League Baseball handles its business. A league that has been scarred by the steroid scandal got at least one thing right: its draft.

Unlike the NBA and NFL, a player does not have to “declare” himself eligible for the draft. Instead, a professional team can draft anyone who has graduated from high school. Then, the player chooses whether to sign a contract or play college baseball.

Why wouldn’t that work for the NBA? There are 30 NBA teams; there are only two rounds in the draft. Every year only 60 players are drafted by NBA teams. Eighteen-year-old kids tend to have a bit of an inflated view of their talents, especially when they are being recruited by some of the top college basketball programs.

Why put any undue pressure on them to declare for a draft? Let teams draft whoever they want. Then let the kids, and their families, decide what is best for them.

It is the only just way.

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