One of the major public relations problems men’s college basketball has endured since the days of Spencer Haywood has been the early exodus of talent to the NBA. We know it as the “1-and-Done” era.
Of course, there have been many players who didn’t even bother going to college like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and Amar’e Stoudemire. We know it as the “None-and-Done” era.
But unlike Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, which encourage and support the steady influx of teenage talent, the NBA’s relationship with men’s college basketball has never seemed as comfortable.
But evidence of a new spirit of cooperation is the recent joint announcement by the NBA Players Association, the NCAA and the NBA that an effort will now be made to give the nation’s top teenagers a chance to prepare themselves for the NBA – without the need to make a one-year stop on a college campus.
If this works as planned, the days of the “1-and-Done” will soon be over.
The plan calls for the Players Association, NBA and NCAA to take greater interest in cultivating talent bubbling on USA Basketball and Junior National Team levels. This will involve the identification of at least 80 players – 20 in each high school class – who will receive care and tutelage from the NBA.
Training camps will be held beginning in October at USA Basketball’s national headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. Among the services the program will provide is year-long access to athletic trainers and doctors. Players will benefit from life-skills training and there will be sessions for parents and guardians.
The idea is to eventually eliminate situations similar to what we will see at Duke this season. The three top high school players in America last season – K.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish – will likely spend just a year before departing.
This unification comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the consternation that was caused earlier in August, when the NCAA altered eligibility rules to allow some of its players to hire agents.
“We believe this vibrant program will not only assist the players in their on-court development, but also assist them and their families with life skills, and health and wellness knowledge that will last a lifetime,” USA Basketball’s chairman, retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in a joint statement.
The genesis of this agreement seems to stem from the findings made by The Rice Commission on College Basketball.
Last October, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the formation of a study group in response to FBI arrests of four Division I assistant coaches alleged to have accepted bribes in return for directing players to agents, advisers and apparel companies. Emmert invited Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, to chair a commission mandated with figuring out how to stop the nonsense.
In April, the report suggested ways to allow players to return to college if not drafted and called for added punishment for those who violated the law.
Right now, high school players can jump to the developmental G League for a year before going pro. The NBA, which changed its draft limit to 19 (or one year removed from high school) in 2005, will be allowed to access players such as these, as well.
“We’ve been looking to get more involved in elite youth basketball for several years,” Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s president for social responsibility and player programs, tokd ESPN.com. “We really have a sense of urgency around it. This is exactly what we’ve been saying we need to do.”
If all goes well, products of this new system should begin showing up in NBA training camps in 2021 or 2022.