NBA should change its one-and-done rule

Talented high school basketball players should have a choice between college and NBA


Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, never wanted to be a college student. A 6-foot-10, freakishly athletic high school prodigy, Simmons would have been one of the first players off the board had he been able to enter the draft out of high school.

However, due to the 10-year old NBA rule commonly dubbed “one-and-done,” he had to wait one year after high school before entering the NBA Draft. Simmons wore the name Louisiana State University on the front of his jersey for one year, but admittedly never really became a part of the University.

He was ineligible for The Wooden Award, given annually to college basketball’s best player, because his GPA was below a 2.0. He also admitted to USA Today that he did not attend some classes and was briefly benched for it by LSU.

“I have to be getting better every day, I’m not worried about my oceanography class,” Simmons said in a Showtimedocumentary about his journey to the NBA.

When it comes to one-and-done, Simmons is the rule, not the exception.

The NBA’s one-and-done rule states that players must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft. Also, any player who is not defined by the College Basketball Association (CBA) to be an international player must be one year removed from high school to be eligible for the draft.

Since the rule was instituted in 2006, top high school prospects have flooded into the nation’s top basketball programs for one year, essentially being forced to attend college, whether or not they want to be there or finish their degree.

Basketball is unique compared to many other popular American sports in the sense that the best athletes are generally ready to play at the professional level in the NBA sooner than other sports. Two of the best players in recent NBA history, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, went straight from high school to the NBA, as have many great NBA players over the years.

In the NFL, a player must be at least three years removed from high school in order to be draft eligible due to the violent nature of the game. In the MLB, an athlete can be drafted straight out of high school, where they can sign a contract, or attend college. If they don’t sign, they must remain in college for three more years before becoming draft eligible again.

It is a tough decision for any talented player to potentially put millions of dollars and NBA stardom on the line by attending college and risking injury or underperformance. Likewise, it is also a risky decision to enter the NBA as a teenager, as many talented players that had a chance at great careers flamed out without the seasoning of college basketball. In some cases, these players are left without a job or college education by the time they hit early to mid-20s.

Basketball players who aren’t interested in college should be allowed to avoid it altogether, even if some may regret the decision later. College is not a requirement for non-athletes, nor should it be those who can dive right into their industry after graduating high school.

Granted, playing professionally in another country for a year is also a route we’ve seen some players go to avoid college and get paid right away. But forcing the choice on a 17 or 18 year old kid that they must either go to college or move to another country for a year in order to pursue their chosen career path doesn’t seem fair.

Athletes who are good enough to be drafted to the NBA out of high school should have the choice to take that route. However, we at The Spectrum believe that if a player chooses to attend college, they should not be able to enter the NBA Draft after just one year; similar to the rule the MLB has in place.

The one-and-done rule is bad for college basketball and if a player chooses to attend college, they should be mandated to stick around for at least two years so they have the opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree.

The “one-and-done rule” is unfair to other athletes who may have had the chance to earn a four-year degree had they been given a scholarship. It is unfair to professors who have to deal with uninterested students in their classes.

Most of all, it is unfair to kids who are wasting a year of their lives being forced against their will to be somewhere they don’t want to be.

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