Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.
Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Kevin Garnett.
Each one of those names represents a supremely talented player that comprises the modern face of the NBA. These men define the very best in terms of talent the NBA has to offer. Each one of them has been named to the All-NBA team. Each one of them is a former NBA All-Star. Each one of them is a former first round draft pick. These are all extraordinary accomplishments from extraordinarily talented players, but the most striking of the commonalities shared by these players is the fact that each one of them was drafted right out of high school.
That’s right, folks. These players learned to dominate the league without having to go to college. While it may not be politically correct to romanticize the fact these guys went on to experience great success without the benefit of a college education or the experience of NCAA basketball, that is exactly what happened. Though it may be true that not every player who declares for the draft right out of high school experiences this type of success, these men prove it is indeed possible. When the ludicrous talk of making incoming players wait three years after their high school graduation before they can become eligible for the NBA comes up, I dismiss it as a flawed and outdated notion.
This proposal is as ill fit for the NBA as James Franco was for Oscar hosting. (Editor’s Note: Nice.)
This rule may work for other leagues, but it would be ill fit for the NBA. No one in his or her right mind would expect an 18-year old to be ready for the NFL. The game just moves at too fast a pace, and the body of an 18-year old simply isn’t developed enough to take the grueling punishment of an NFL season. Comparisons may be made to MLB, seeing as how prospects are signed right out of high school, but that is a tad misleading. While clubs frequently sign young players fresh out of high school, they are given ample opportunity to develop the required skills for the majors in the league’s vast farm system. It may take a player years, or even a decade, to mature into a true big leaguer.
In either scenario, the maturation of the player is key to their success, and the NBA is no different. HOWEVER… I argue that placing an arbitrary timetable on that development process does nothing to improve the game. No two players develop the same and therefore they do not uniformly fit a one-size fits all approach to development. Some players are simply ready right out of high school and others aren’t. I don’t suggest that every player be drafted right out of high school, JUST the ones that are ready for it.
Forcing a pro-ready talent like Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett to waste three years playing college ball is completely unnecessary. Those are 3 years that a pro-ready player is risking their health and in turn their livelihood playing out an NCAA sentence to appease a misgiven notion that rushing a player into the pros hurts both the player and the league. The truth is, it doesn’t. Much like the popular phrase “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” Players out of high school shouldn’t be drafted to the NBA, pro-ready players should be drafted out of high school to the NBA.
You might be asking yourself, “How does one determine the difference between a pro-ready high school grad and a kid making a rash decision?” That’s an issue between the player and the teams willing to draft them. If a player thinks they are ready, and a professional team wants to take a chance on them, more power to both. The NBA doesn’t owe NCAA basketball anything. It is a ludicrous infringement of the free market that the desires of the colleges to hang on to the best players (for the sake of their school’s economic success) should supersede the right of the player to sign with a professional team and actually get compensated for playing. College programs would literally be steamrolling over the rights of both the players and the NBA franchise that wishes to sign them.
There are lots of great college stars who are huge NBA busts. There time playing NCAA basketball didn’t help them better establish their pro-level game, so why reinforce the myth that it does?
Professional athletes have a very limited and uncertain window to make money. They are always just one injury from being out of the league for good. Forcing a player to forgo three years of the prime money making years is simply idiotic. We can pretend the lessons of playing college ball and attending class are priceless, but are they really?
Put yourself in these players’ shoes, or rather the shoes of their family. If you had a son who was a senior in high school who was offered the 4.2M that comes with being drafted with the number one overall pick, or taking a three year scholarship to Duke, which would you encourage them to take? Invariably I would tell him to take the NBA deal.
With that NBA deal comes the type of cash that could pay for his tuition, his children’s tuition, and his grandchildren’s tuition many times over. With the college deal comes three years laden with risk to the players health and draft status. Those are risks not worth taking.
Normally I’m an ardent proponent of education, but here it just doesn’t make sense. Sure, you can say without college the player won’t know how to manage that money, and if they get hurt in the pros they have nothing to fall back on, but that is just a cop out. The managing of an individual’s personal finances is not a matter of public concern. If an NBA player loses all their money Nicolas Cage style, Boo-freakin-Hoo! The lack of a college education is not to blame. I’ve had eight years of graduate and undergraduate collegiate studies and not once did I have a class on how to make a personal budget, balance my checkbook, or make wise personal finance decisions, so let’s stop kidding ourselves that college is the cure all for wise resource management.
There have been some 42 NBA players drafted right after high school. Of those 42 they have accounted for three number one overall selections, two rookie of the year awards, and four league MVPs. They prove college is not necessary for NBA success. While I don’t think every player should skip college ball, colleges standing in the way of the future of the players that are pro-ready is a travesty. We wouldn’t tell a singer, chef, or any other talent-based profession they had to wait to enter their respective field for the good of colleges, so why should basketball be any different?