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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    College should not be required before NBA draft

    Any sports fan knows that American sports are weird. There are a lot of rules that make no sense, and many that seem to hinder the players associated with them. 

    One that stands out to me as being incredibly redundant is the rule in the National Basketball Association (NBA) that prevents a player from entering the NBA draft directly after graduating high school. 

    According to Draft Site, these are the exact requirements for entering the NBA draft: “Player must be 19 years old during draft calendar year, and at least one season has passed since graduation of high school.” 

    This prevents any 18 year old individual from entering the NBA, and creates a wealth of “one-and-done” players that play one season of college basketball, just to immediately leave college and enter the NBA draft. This phenomenon just wastes everyone’s time.

    There is already a stacked list of NBA players that entered the league at 18, including Kevin Garnett, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwight Howard. Three of these names are surefire Hall of Fame players in the NBA, and the fourth will still have a storied career before all is said and done. 

    Obviously, the rule currently in place was instated after these players were drafted, and that makes it even harder to understand the reasoning behind it. 

    According to ESPN, the NBA commissioner at the time of the rule’s installment, David Stern, was apparently of the mindset that many players were blinded by the prospect of instant fame and made the bad decision to enter the NBA without honing their skills further. 

    However, there have only been 44 players drafted directly out of high school. It is not as if there was a wave of people choosing to forgo college in lieu of the NBA in the first place, and even if there were, it is not the NBA’s place to force their players’ hands in their career choices. 

    What does that one year in college really do for players who are ready to jump into the NBA? Not much. This is evident in the story of one of the most recent draftees in the NBA, Philadelphia 76’ers player Ben Simmons. 

    Simmons was forced to go to Louisiana State University for a year, as per regulation, and according to him, missed out on basketball awards due to a low GPA, missed playing time in games due to bad class attendance, and spent a ridiculous amount of time fending off illegal offers from everyone around him in the form of cars, shoes and money. 

    According to CBS Sports, Simmons said, “I’m here because I have to be here (at LSU). … I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so it’s kind of pointless. I feel like I’m wasting time.” The fact is, he was right. 

    Simmons, despite being currently injured and having played no regular season games in the NBA yet, was almost undeniably ready to compete in the NBA before he ever attended university. 

    He was selected first overall in the 2016 NBA draft and played considerably well in the NBA preseason before getting injured. I highly doubt one year at LSU that he essentially wasted was the difference in his skill level. 

    Opponents of this mindset state that one year is not much to ask for from an athlete that gets housing, food, and everything else he needs for free. I disagree, because that is one less year that he is able to earn millions of dollars in a sport that he excels in. 

    Maybe they could go play basketball in Europe for that year if they really wanted to make money, but it just is not the same as the NBA, competitively or salary-wise. 

    Why take away a year of earnings from someone who deserves to make their own career decisions? The logic behind the current system is just inherently flawed. 

    If nothing else, the NBA seems to listen to points that benefit them as an organization. So why, would they intentionally take away revenue from themselves by limiting the amount of talent that could enter the league every year? 

    Lebron James is currently the most popular player in the entirety of the NBA, and he was drafted as an 18 year old kid. He is arguably the most athletic star in NBA history, and his journey brought ESPN cameras to his high school games in Akron, Ohio, when he was not even a man yet. 

    Kobe Bryant took the league by storm when he joined up with Shaquille O’Neil at 18 on the Los Angeles Lakers. Talent like that at such a young age brings eyes to the NBA, and the NBA stands to gain quite a lot of money if they capitalize on such a thing. 

    The former commissioner David Stern was quoted on an article by USA Today as saying: “For our business purposes, the longer we can get to look at young men playing against first-rate competition, that’s a good thing, because draft picks are a very valuable thing.” 

    Maybe that makes sense, and I will not pretend to know more about business than him, but there are exceptions to that rule that have been proven. 

    They can certainly outweigh the players who fail to succeed out of high school. There are holes in both the player skill-based and economic points that could potentially be made in favor of the current ruling. 

    Regulating adults on their career decisions in such a way is just ludicrous, and when it only requires them to play ball somewhere else for one year, it does nothing but waste their time. No real education is gained, and a whole lot of money is potentially flushed down the drain. 

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    College should not be required before NBA draft