Louisville’s Rick Pitino, another supporter of a two-year minimum, points to the academic consequences that can harm not only these players in the long run, but the programs and coaches also.
Because the second semester brings an added pressure to prepare for the next level, some prospects are missing class, taking pushover classes online, and, even worse, withdrawing–knowing very well that the draft is only a month or two away. This hurts the schools’ APR numbers, thus directly effecting the coaches.
2016 will be the telling year, however. NCAA academic standards change for incoming freshman that year as the minimum GPA will rise from 2.0 to 2.3. Preps will also have to complete 10 of their 16 core classes before becoming seniors, along with acceptable SAT scores relative to the GPA in these core classes by graduation.
If these new requirements are not met, academic redshirts will be given, and a tougher time qualifying could translate to many players taking alternative paths to the NBA.
They may take the Brandon Jennings-route, attempt to navigate the European circuits for a year and then come back to the league. This of course is under the assumption that the current one-year-removed rule is still in effect.
The NBDL, or the D-League, is also an option as it does not have a rule in place like its big brother league. After all, it is where raw players, predominantly young, go to hone their skills in hopes of making an NBA roster. Yet the paltry salary–five figures–will likely drive most overseas to seek more lucrative deals if academic standards cannot be met.
Pitino acknowledges that in 2016, college basketball will change.
You’re going to see a mass exodus to overseas to get ready for the NBA.”
Regardless of how these coaches feel about the one-and-done, the reality is they will not stop targeting these prospects on the recruiting trail. If a talented prep has a school on his consideration list, then phone calls will be made and visits will be scheduled by the coaching staff, plain and simple. As Texas coach Rick Barnes succinctly puts it,
I don’t know many coaches that turn down talent.”
Even Kentucky’s John Calipari, who has had the likes of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Demarcus Cousins, and John Wall–not to mention his latest crop of one-and-doners who helped him win a national championship this past year–has stated he would like to see a change in the rule.
Okay. Let’s say the straight-to-the-pros or two-year-minimum rule was implemented. Does Calipari continue to land the same prospects? Probably not; they would be sitting in the green room in Newark come June instead of visiting campus.
Furthermore, a player doesn’t have to be Lebron or Dwight Howard to go straight to the pros. Tyson Chandler, Al Jefferson, Monte Ellis, and Louis Williams (to name just a few) are serviceable pros who have carved out solid careers taking this path.
If the NBA does implement a two-year-minimum rule, it surely won’t stem from an attack of conscience–but the league may very well play it that way. Realistically, it will not be about these young men and their maturation process or educational foundations, or even about the NCAA and its coaches’ ability to uphold some semblance of sustainability.
Naturally, it comes down to the dollar signs. If for any reason a change happens, it’s because the league officials and owners want more time to evaluate prospects in order to avoid losing millions on busted first-round contracts.
Forget morality, it’s about taking preemptive measures to determine which one-year star will not become the next Rodney White (ninth overall to sophisticated marijuana grower), Javaris Crittenton, who graduated from bringing a gun into the locker room to a full-fledged murder charge, or former No. 7 overall Eddie Griffin. No, not that one, this one.