College Media Network - Search the largest news resource for college students by college students

2011: The year of the basketball apocalypse

Staff Writer


Published: Thursday, April 15, 2010

Updated: Thursday, April 15, 2010

The year 2011 could be the year of the apocalypse for many sports fans if the potential lockouts for the NFL and NBA take place. Were these to happen, the initial assumption is that college athletics would gain the most, filling the void for the professional sports. While the popularity of college football would certainly swell in the absence of the NFL, college basketball could actually suffer without its big brother. Don’t believe me? Just watch the NBA Draft in June.

Without an NBA season, there likely wouldn’t be a draft in 2011. Even if there was, the teams couldn’t offer the draftees contracts until the dispute between the owners and the NBA players’ association is settled. For college basketball players, the 2011 NBA Draft is what you would call a “stay away”. There’s too much risk involved whether the lockout occurs or not. Therefore, the decision for the best college ballers is this: declare for the draft now or wait two years.

Leaning with the logic that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, the game’s best players are declaring for this year’s NBA draft in droves. So far, 39 underclassmen have declared for the draft with another 7 international players. In the two weeks before the April 25 deadline, the number of underclassmen opting for the draft could more than double. If we consider the 30 or so seniors that will probably enter the draft, that’s a huge number of players vying for the 60 picks.

Meanwhile, that’s the same number of players that will be absent from the college game next year. Just look at how the draft has decimated Kentucky’s basketball team. Four freshmen- John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton-along with junior Patrick Patterson have declared for the draft. Sophomore Darnell Dotson is rumored to also test the NBA waters or transfer and the Wildcats have three seniors that will not be with the team next year. That could leave Kentucky with just four returning players who averaged a grand total of 12.8 points per game.

Next year’s Wildcats team certainly won’t be the first decimated by freshmen leaving early. It took several years for Ohio State to recover from Greg Oden’s departure, but for the most part, the college game has survived top-level freshman going pro. That is, until now. With the NBA lockout looming, the 2011 college basketball season could finally see the disastrous fruition of the NBA’s one-and-done eligibility rule.

Since 2006, all drafted players must be 19 years of age and be one year removed from his high school graduation. Most top players then choose a school to play that will improve his draft stock if not necessarily to win championship. Some coaches, themselves are guilty of focusing more now on player development than winning. When asked why he never won a title with the likes of Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and D.J. Augustine, Texas coach Rick Barnes said he’s more obsessed with having his players live out their NBA dreams.

Living out their NBA dreams they did. The 2007 NBA Draft, the first featuring basketball players that were forced to go to college, set a record for the number of freshmen drafted in the first round when eight were selected. Last year, freshmen made up the first three picks and 12 of the 60 total. How many of those freshmen packed national championship hats with them to their new NBA homes? Zero.

If the college game doesn’t need these phenoms to make champions, then why make them come? College basketball should not have be the development league for the NBA. If an 18 year-old wants to become a professional, in any field, no one should be able to stop him. If you want to argue kids that age aren’t ready, just look at the current NBA MVP race. The three trailing favorite LeBron James, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, are Dwight Howard, Durant and Kobe Bryant. The NBA’s four best players either went straight to the NBA from high school or had to play college for a year!

The argument for players going to college to be “student” athletes and get an education would be great if the one-and-done guys ever graduated. The counter-argument for this, of course, is that the NBA’s savviest businessman, LeBron, has never seen a college classroom. One could argue that the recent rule is causing universities to essentially waste scholarships on one-and-done guys when they could invest them more wisely on athletes that stay and graduate. As it is, athlete expenses have increased across the country by about 29% in the last five years while state funding for high education has seen drops.

Is it “smarter” to go to school and opt for the draft as a senior? Absolutely. Beyond getting an education, the competition for the NBA draft is getting tougher every year. More and more international players are joining the NBA pool as there were 35 foreign players drafted over the last three years. In staying in school, there’s also the chance to improve not only with your game, as we saw with John Wall, but also mentally and emotionally. Evan Turner transformed from a smug and tempered freshman at Ohio State to the undisputed team leader as a junior.

I’m in favor of the NBA adopting a draft system much like the professional baseball has, in which a player can opt for the pros out of high school or join the league after their junior season in college. It’s great to have future pros play in the college game, but not at the expense of the traditional, competitive college basketball. Next season, so many teams will be stripped of their best players and starting from scratch. The game will be young and played at a level less than most expect, especially for fans spoiled at universities like Kentucky, Ohio State and Kansas. For basketball fans in general, spoiled by this year’s fantastic tournament, milk the memories for all their worth. It’s about to get ugly.



Recommended: Articles that may interest you

Be the first to comment on this article! Log in to Comment

You must be logged in to comment on an article. Not already a member? Register now

Log In