In 2006 the NBA instituted the rule that forces players to be one year removed from high school before being allowed entry into the NBA draft, the one and done rule. When speaking strictly from the view of a fan of college basketball the rule has killed the college game. The one-and-done players have shown college basketball fans how depleted of talent the game has become. While many are concerned with some un-expected problems the rule has created, I find that the quality of College Basketball took the biggest hit.
The one and done rule was originally looked at as a good thing for college basketball. There were those who saw the rule as a victory, but in my view it has really displayed the lack of quality in the college game. Now, three years later, colleges are cooling to the NBA draft rule. Those who oppose the rule from the college side of things claim the one and done rule can lead to recruiting violations and academic issues, like those involving Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose. Mostly, these are players who otherwise would have went straight to the NBA if the rule was not in place.
The unexpected result that nobody is talking about is that the rule has shown us how devoid of talent is now left in College Basketball after just three drafts with the rule in place. Now that players are required to essentially go to college for one year(unless they go the foreign route, which may become more popular) we as fans get to see the dropoff from those 5 or 6 elite players to the rest of the players. When the Garnett’s, Kobe’s, and Lebron’s were allowed to go straight to the NBA, we never got the chance to see how they would do in college. It was expected that they would have dominated, but the level of drop-off after the top 10-15 or so from each class is staggering.
Think of it this way, there are 30 teams in the NBA, with usually 8 quality players per team. That gives us 240 players. A good majority of the players in the NBA range from 20-35 years old giving us about 20 players per high school class that will eventually have an NBA impact. The last three years the top 5 or 6 players are leaving after their freshman season, another 10 or so leave the next year as sophomores. That only leaves on average 5 or less players that are Juniors or older from the original 20. This isn’t even counting the foreign players that will make it as a part of the 8 quality players per team. There is just less quality left in the College Game by the Junior year, and the rule has displayed how drastic that dropoff is.
In today’s college basketball landscape there are very few Juniors and Seniors in college basketball leftover from the high school class that will make an impact in the NBA. In fact, it seems if a player is a really good Junior, the questions about him are rarely regarding his game, the questions center on “What is wrong with his game” since he is still in school. There just is such a void in the college game with or without the rule, what the rule has shown is how much better these elite freshman and sophomores are. It also shows that nobody wants to stay around past their sophomore year.
Some examples of the recent youthful domination:
Syracuse has been a basketball power for years under Jim Boeheim but could not win a National title until one year with of Carmelo Anthony changed that.
John Calipari had built Memphis into a national power, but the team could not get past the elite 8 until star freshman Derrick Rose took them to the next level. And almost beyond as they had the title game virtually locked up until a near-miraculous comeback by Kansas.
In 06-07 Ohio State made it to the title mainly due to Greg Oden. The program continues to get into the tourney, but has not made a run of note w/o the star freshman.
The 07-08 year was dominated by Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo and Michael Beasley. The player of the year, Blake Griffin didn’t even stand out as much as a freshman due to the class he was a part of, but with most of his classmates, including Anthony Randolph, and Deandre Jordan, departed for the NBA there wasn’t much left in CBB and he won National Player of the Year. And he dominated the award. There was nothing left.
Granted, last years Freshman class did not stand out as much, but what if Brandon Jennings had gone to Arizona, with an already good team, a final four trip would not have been surprising. To go with that, most of the top players projected for next years draft will be sophomores from that class. North Carolina did dominate the tourney last year, but if Ed Davis had come out, he would have been the best NBA player from that team, or at least the highest drafted as only Hasborough was a late lottery pick.
This coming season I would highly anticipate the overwhelmling favorite to be Kentucky with Cousins and Wall as top flight recruits that will likely be one and done.
As the number of upper classmen that can have a future impact in the NBA continue to dwindle, the watchablityof college basketball will bottom out. There will still be alumni, and plenty of fans of the tourney. But that will be it. If you do not have a strong rooting interest to a particular team or are not an alum of a school, why in the world would you watch any college basketball before the tourney unless a game with a future star was in it? I will watch some Wisconsin games this year, then I will watch any games John Wall, Cousins, Derrick Favors or Ed Davis play. Beyond that, it will only be the tourney, and I use to be a huge college basketball fan. Next year expect 8 of the first 10 picks to be freshman/sophomores, 1 to be foreign, and 1 to be upper-classman Cole Aldrich from Kansas.
If the draft does breakdown that way, the following season will be more unwatchable than the previous one. A trend that continues to get worse and worse.
Links for Wisconsin sports fans