Age-limit rule disrupts college hoops programs

The one-and-done parade comes to Orlando next week for the NBA’s Pre-Draft Camp, with basketball prodigies Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose serving as co-grand marshals. They are the future of professional hoops, they are proof of capitalism’s coolest quirks. And they are examples of the worst rule in college sports.

The NBA’s age limit, which forces most of its prospects to attend a year of college rather than leaping straight from high school to the pros, has made college basketball careers quicker than NASCAR pit stops. Drop 35 points on Baylor, pose for a magazine photo shoot, play a couple NCAA tournament games, and see ya. Where have you gone, Grant Hill?

“It’s not a healthy rule,” Florida Coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s not a good rule for college basketball.”

And Donovan, for once, is right on so many levels. Coaches must gamble in recruiting, certain that some players will bail after a season, wary that others less qualified might follow anyway. Programs suffer — how can a team build chemistry when the team can’t stay together for an academic year? And the big shots themselves rarely develop anything more than a couple feet on their jump shot and a couple buddies for their entourage. The prospective agents that have hounded these kids since middle school? They will be around, too, with schools more likely to face sanctions for the agents’ actions than the players.

orlandosentinel.com
5/24/08