You may not have noticed, or maybe you just don’t remember, but about five years ago we almost lost college basketball.
It wouldn’t have gone away. There’s too much history and too much money at stake for that to happen. But it was withering.
The best young players weren’t bothering with college at all. LeBron James, the greatest high-school player of his generation, chose the NBA without so much as a backward glance in 2003. The following year, eight of the first 19 players taken in the NBA draft were in high school. Coaches, faced with a talent drain, were increasingly adopting a grinding, clock-eating and altogether sleep-inducing style. The pace of play, as measured by total possessions per game, dropped to its lowest point in a decade.