There’s a trend emerging in college basketball: more and more young men are playing just one year of NCAA basketball before entering the NBA draft. This is affecting both the NCAA programs and the NBA in many ways, hardly any of them good.
14 players were selected in the 2015 NBA draft following their freshman seasons. In the most striking example of this trend, after the 2014-15 season, the University of Kentucky had seven players with remaining NCAA eligibility enter the NBA draft, including three freshmen and three sophomores. This was a record, breaking the previous record of six underclassman draft entries, also set by the University of Kentucky.
The one-and-done phenomenon serves only to further commercialize college sports while simultaneously deemphasizing the “student” in student-athlete. These freshman super-teams turn their NCAA programs into little more than full-time hype machines. Full-ride scholarships are being given to young men who clearly have no intention of earning their degree at the universities before going on to the next level of competition.
Furthermore, they receive no monetary compensation for their time playing in the NCAA, while earning their programs millions of dollars. For an organization that seems determined not to taint the title of student-athlete with any kind of compensation outside of scholarships, it sure seems like the NCAA isn’t doing much for the education of these young players.
In these scenarios, it would make more sense for these players to forego college, play overseas or in the NBA Development League, earn a wage, and then enter the NBA draft.
The problem the one-and-done trend brings to the NBA is simply that there are underdeveloped players coming into the association in droves. Young men, undoubtedly talented, are being selected at 18, 19, and 20 years old to be the corner stones and the faces of multibillion-dollar professional sports organizations.
It is the ultimate gamble, since at that age, the player that these young men will develop into is anything but a sure thing. In the best case scenarios, these players are almost through their rookie contracts before being developed enough to make the impact on their teams that is envisioned when they are selected.
A large percentage of these top picks turn out to be busts, never producing at the NBA level in the way envisioned by their teams. Whether more years in the NCAA program would clear these issues up remains to be seen, but it certainly couldn’t do any harm.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.