By BRENNAN PRUSAK
In lieu of the recent FBI probe and the end of March Madness, another topic has come into focus regarding college basketball. Is the one and done good or bad for the sport, and more importantly, the player? A number of freshman stars declared for the NBA draft after their first year in the NCAA, which begs the question, what did they gain?
Following their exit from the NCAA tournament, Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley Jr., Mo Bamba, Michael Porter Jr., Lonnie Walker Jr, Mikal Bridges, Colin Sexton, and many other stars declared for the 2018 NBA draft.
All of these players are currently freshman in college but are set to leave school before even completing a full year. In fact, Michael Porter Jr. only played in two college games, yet he has decided to enter the NBA Draft. The one and done era of college basketball is in full swing, but it may be coming to an end soon as many believe that the trend isn’t great for the game itself.
“Nowadays, these coaches are just like daycare owners,” said Kevin Durant, a former one-and-done player at the University of Texas. “They’re like, We’re just going to get these guys for a year and we’re not going to really coach them, because I know they’re going to be out the next year. That’s not how basketball’s supposed to played. That’s not how you’re supposed to be coached. You can’t teach the game like that.”
Durant raises an interesting point there, as these players are essentially a rental for the school’s program. They go to classes for a semester and a half so that they are eligible to play and practice, and then sign with an NBA team for however many millions of dollars they are offered. They aren’t part of a plan for the future of their teams, as they’ll be gone in a few months, so it puts coaches in a very tough spot.
What can they possibly teach a kid whose goal is to leave for the NBA in eight months? Preaching teamwork and creating a drive for a national championship, which is an extremely team-oriented goal, isn’t going to hit home with a kid who’d rather be drafted in the Top 5, which could cause a rift in the team.
Players and the sports news media alike seem to agree on what the future will hold for college basketball and the one and dones. The most common belief is that the NCAA will require its athletes to play for at least two years before entering the draft, and as a result, more of the top players may end up skipping college to either play overseas or enter the draft right out of high school.
This would result in college basketball becoming more of a team game as opposed to one centered around stars and their supporting cast, while top talents could compete at a higher level and develop quicker, along with the ability to market themselves right out of high school. Whether this eventually materializes or not, it will be interesting to see the direction that NCAA basketball heads in during the next five or so years.