By Paul M. Banks
We all know that the NBA requires players to put in at least one year of college before jumping to “The Association,” Up until a couple years ago, players could jump directly from high school. Recently, there’s been talk of turning that one year commitment rule into a two year mandate. I spoke with a legendary coach, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim about that idea.
“I think it would be good for players I think the NBA wants it. I think we want it. I don’t really care, if a kid is good enough coming out of high school, right to the NBA, but I think once you start college, it’s better if you go a couple years,” Boeheim said before continuing:
“I had a guy go last year and it didn’t benefit him. He didn’t play. Unless you’re a top 5 pick you can’t tell where you going to go in the draft, you can’t tell if it’s going to be a good decision, until later. So it’s very difficult to counsel somebody. We all think, if you go to college- stay two or three years like they do in baseball and football and you end up gaining more. It would be better for the player, better for the NBA and better for the college, but I don’t think we’ll get there. We’re at one, maybe someday we get to two, but I don’t really know. The Players Association has to make that decision.”
Boeheim’s statements echo the viewpoint of most coaches, including his close friend, the legendary Mike Kryzewski. On his recent appearance on the Colbert Report, Coach K. said he was in favor of players having the option to go directly from high school, but once they’re in school, to stay a couple years. Adding more uncertainty to this debate is the inherent randomness and unpredictability of the NBA Draft. “You never know where you’re going to go. We had a guy last year Donte Green, who thought he was going #12 and he ended up going #28. But you don’t really know. I’ve seen guys go 10 or 12 jumps, mostly down. Very seldom do you see a guy jump up, I had one guy who jumped up, but usually it’s the other way,” Boeheim stated.
These days college basketball news is dominated by talk of scandal and corruption at the University of Memphis. People are understandably cynical of the system. Boeheim also discussed the “student” portion of the phrase student-athlete. “Most players obviously want to play in the NBA and that’s the thing you have to fight everyday and they have to come to understand- well, I want you to play in the NBA too, but if you don’t do the academic part, you’re not going to play. If we don’t get you through, we’re going to lose scholarships down the road as punishment, so there’s a whole number of things working together to push things in the right direction, because every player who’s at a high level thinks he’s going to be in the NBA. And we hope you do, its good for you, it’s good for us,” he remarked.
No matter how corrupt the institution of collegiate athletics may or may not be, the idea of regarding a program as nothing more than a basketball vocational schools is damaging and defeatist to all involved; because so few actually make the jump.
“I get a lot of kids that think they’re going to be there one year and then it’s off to the NBA, and they’re not. So that’s the biggest fight right there, all the kids we get at our level think they’re good enough…And the academic requirements and structure are much more difficult now, all the new APR requirements, you have to do the work, if you don’t, you’re going to hurt the program and hurt yourself in the long run. That’s what players have a hard time understanding, even if you’re really good, it’s still a big jump and it takes time…There’s guys who were All-Big East in the NBA and they don’t play at all. Going and working with the Olympic guys, and of course these guys are the best, Jonny Flynn’s a great point guard, but when I came back from coaching Chris Paul, I was like you’re not that good. And he’s the best point guard in college,” Boeheim concluded.
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