By Ryaen Johnson
There is always a winner and a loser in every game, meet, or competition event. Every year at the end of the regular season, the NBA holds the ultimate tournament to crown a team the best in the NBA. After the playoffs and NBA Finals comes the next big occasion, the NBA draft. This time of the year brings a lot of buzz and action to the league, and people are wondering where their favorite players are headed, which superstar athlete is trying to recruit other players to join their team, and who’s going to be drafted during the NBA Draft and which team will get him. One huge conflict affecting the NBA Draft and NCAA is the “one-and-done” policy.
The NBA has eligibility rules in order for players to enter the league. The league requires that players must be at least 19-years old-during the year that the draft will occur, the player must have completed high school eligibility, and be one year removed from completing high school. Due to these harsh rules enforced by the NBA, many players use college as a plan B system into the NBA. Players know that if they compete for just one year collegiately, they can enter the NBA’s Draft without any problems or conflicts. These young students are desperate to have their dreams fulfilled by playing in the NBA have found a way to beat the system. However, this plan B just doesn’t affect the player but also the NBA and the NCAA.
I personally understand these young men wanting to play at the highest level of competition in the world. I’ve been playing collegiate basketball for three years, and, if I was given the opportunity to stop playing collegiate basketball and enter into the WNBA, I would. Granted, the NBA and WNBA have their differences on drafting requirements. But, the desires are all the same. Most players want to play professionally to support their families financially, play against other athletes who are the strongest and the best because it’s all about competition, and being able to be involved in a sport you love. Nonetheless, the NBA says an athlete can’t accomplish these goals without meeting their unfair requirements.
The NCAA is in the consolation bracket every year with the NBA’s requirements. Recruiting kids out of high school for college is hard enough as it is. There is a lot of planning on the coaches’ part to ensure that they’re putting together a team to compete in the school’s conference as well as the NCAA tournament. “One-and -done” adds more stress to the equation.
College coaches want to be successful for as long as they can be and if a very important piece of the team leaves after completing just one year, then what is the coach supposed to do? College coaches want to groom the athletes into better competitor and have a go-to player that they can rely on and trust. Ultimately, evolving players to be better players when their time comes to play professionally. “One-and-done” doesn’t give coaches that kind of leisure.
When young athletes decide to play for one year, they don’t always take that year seriously because they know that they’re going to the NBA. Such is the case for NBA player Ben Simmons. Simmons has a documentary titled “One and Done” where he addresses that he didn’t care about his academics. Every semester student-athletes are required to have completed a set amount of credits to be eligible to compete in competition.
Ben Simmons would do the minimum to reach this requirement and after the season was over, he felt that he no longer had to go to class. Simmons was completely motivated by basketball and made it quite evident that he was only at LSU to fulfill the NBA’s requirements. Situations like Simmons’ are completely unreasonable to his teammates that plan on completing their four years of eligibility collegially. Being a student-athlete who wants to be successful on the court as well as off the court can be challenging, stressful, and very much so overwhelming. If I had a teammate that was going to quit and do the bare minimum in a year, I’m not so sure I would consider that person a team player. I’m working hard and trying my best and you’re slacking off in class but still getting the credit for being “one of the best” on the court.
The best way to resolve this issue is to remove the age limit. The NBA used to function quite well without the age limit that was introduced in 2005. Players like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant came straight from high school and were given a chance to chase their dreams without any hindrance from the NBA. Why should these young guys today, not be given that same opportunity? People not in favor of allowing players into the NBA from high school will say that players straight out of high school are too young. But, that didn’t seem to be a problem for LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Both are exceptional players and have changed the NBA for the better and that can be seen years ago as well as today. In high school these two men proved that they should be playing with the best and they did it without manipulating the NCAA.