OVER AND OUT WITH ONE-AND-DONE
lottery pick O.J. Mayo accentuate the flaws in the
NBA's current eligibility system. I have no way of
knowing if Mayo accepted $30,000 or so in monetary
gifts to steer him toward a particular sports agency
that represents pro athletes. But it certainly
wouldn't surprise anyone if he did.
There was a noble purpose to the rule preventing high
school seniors from entering the draft, which was
mutually agreed upon by the league and its players in
the most recent collecting bargaining agreement.
Commissioner David Stern was determined to get his NBA
scouts out of high school gyms and away from AAU
No doubt, the rule has helped the college game in some
ways. Supremely talented players like Kevin Durant,
Greg Oden and Michael Beasley drew attention to
themselves, their teams and the college game by
becoming stars in their one-and-done seasons.
The fundamental problem is that these kids have no
intention of graduating, nor any incentive to go to
class after their first semester. They're basically
mercenaries looking to improve their draft positions
while the schools they sign with sell their souls for
a shot at a national title.
I've always like the rules regarding college baseball
and football, where players have to stay at least
three years before bolting for the pros. It shows that
the player is truly committed to being a college
student as well as an athlete. It also brings
stability to those sports, rather than the volatile
turnaround we see in basketball.
So what to do with the cream of the crop that have no
real interest in going to college without going back
to the old system? Use the NBA Development League as
their training ground. High school seniors can
announce their intention of going into a special
Development League draft. Then, they can spend a year
with NBA-quality coaches and face fringe NBA prospects
and young players that the NBA teams have drafted and
sent down for seasoning, like the Pistons did with
Cheikh Samb this season.
After serving a one-year apprenticeship in the
Development League at a modest salary, those players
would be eligible for the NBA draft. This would
certainly stir more interest in the NBA's
developmental program while giving those players a
taste of what NBA-caliber competition is like. Players
like Mayo would prepping for their careers, rather
than carrying on the masquerade of being