NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has not hidden his feelings about the NBA’s one-and-done rule, which has been in place since 2005 — before he assumed control of the league — and mandates that draft prospects be both 19 years old and one year removed from high school. He doesn’t like it, and wants to get rid of it for multiple reasons. And on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Silver met with the NCAA’s new Commission on College Basketball about possibly doing away with the rule.
The commission was established by the NCAA in wake of the federal investigation into college basketball recruiting, which has led to the arrests of multiple assistant coaches, shoe company executives and financial advisers and led to the downfall of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. One of the commission’s stated mandates is to discuss college basketball’s relationship with the NBA, specifically how the one-and-done rule affects both parties. Much of the evidence suggests it doesn’t help either.
For one, the fact that the best NCAA players are only around for one year creates an atmosphere in which coaches, desperate to win, are more willing to cast aside the NCAA’s rule book while recruiting. Players also aren’t being helped. Instead of learning the pro game in the NBA, they’re forced to spend a year in college, often at schools that are serving as mere placeholders.
Silver addressed that latter topic last month on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show, pointing out that the last two No. 1 picks in the NBA draft — LSU’s Ben Simmons and Washington’s Markelle Fultz — both played for teams that failed to reach the NCAA tournament in their lone seasons with the programs. Being forced to spend a year didn’t help anyone, not the players, the NCAA programs nor the NBA teams that drafted them.
“I don’t think enough people are talking about that. That seems to be a sea change,” Silver said. “It’s become common knowledge that these so-called one-and-done players, maybe understandably, are almost entirely focused on where they are going to go in the draft lottery. Not to say they don’t badly care about winning but … the stakes are so high in terms of the amount of money they can make over a long NBA career.
“From our standpoint, if the players in that one year of college aren’t getting the kind of development we’d like to see them get coming into the NBA, aren’t playing in the NCAA tournament, aren’t competing against top-notch competition, I think we have to take a step back and figure out whether we are better off taking those players at a younger age and working on their training and development full time,” Silver continued.
The NBA players’ association would need to approve any changes to the one-and-done rule because it falls under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, and the union has long opposed it. But Wojnarowski adds that, in exchange for allowing players to enter the NBA straight out of high school, the league would ask the union to agree to a new rule that states any player who chooses college must wait two years to enter the NBA.
The NCAA has no say on the one-and-done rule. Wojnarowski says Silver’s meeting with the commission was purely informational.
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