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Adam Silver says raising NBA’s age limit a top priority

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It’s not a secret that Adam Silver has made it a priority in his first year as the NBA’s commissioner to push the league’s age limit back to 20 years old.

And now he has the backing of a majority of the NBA’s owners.

That’s what Silver said after exiting two days of owners meetings. The league will not be changing the age limit for the 2014-2015 season — they cannot start negotiating until the NBA Player’s Union has named an executive director — it’s not crazy to think that the one-and-done era in college basketball may be over with by the 2016 NBA Draft.

What’s interesting is that Silver reached out to NCAA president Mark Emmert and inviting him into the meetings, an effort to discuss ways to make college a more effective and fair development system for the NBA. Topics ranged from reducing the shot clock at the college level to full cost-of-attendance scholarships to more financial incentives to remain an “amateur” for longer.

“If we’re going to be successful in raising the age from 19 to 20, part and parcel in those negotiations goes to the treatment of players on those college campuses and closing the gap between what their scholarships cover and their expenses,” Silver told Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. “We haven’t looked specifically at creating a financial incentive for them to stay in college. That’s been an option that has been raised over the years, but that’s not something that is on the table right now.”

PBT: Kurt Helin’s look at the two-and-through from the NBA’s perspective

One theory that has even reportedly been pitched would be to require a player to be three years removed from high school graduation to enter the draft, but to raise the NBA D-League’s pay beyond the maximum of $28,000, making it a viable alternative to college.

Whatever the case may be, raising the age limit makes perfect business sense for the NBA. We’ve been over this time and time again, but the longer the NBA is allowed to wait to draft a prospect, the better feel they are going to have for just what kind of player that prospect is going to be down the road. Two years of scouting at the college level — and the chance to see how the athlete develops between his freshman and sophomore seasons — would be valuable information to have.

It also reduces the amount of time that the NBA’s owners will have to pay to develop these prospects. The way the system is currently set up, the elite prospects — the guys that can go one-and-done — might need a year or two in the NBA before they are ready to be contributors. The NBA funds that by paying their salaries. Drafting a player a year later in their development will save owners millions in salary. If you can’t see why that is a no-brainer for the NBA’s money men than I hope you never open your own business.

On the college side of things, it’s tough to really know just what kind of impact this move will have. The way the system is currently set up, it may drive more players to skip college and turn pro in one of basketball’s minor leagues. It may turn Kentucky into a team that would make the Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. It may result in the NCAA finally realizing their arcane amateurism rules are absurd. At this point, there is such a push for a structural change in how we view student-athletes at the highest level of men’s basketball, it’s tough to predict just how that will play out.

But whatever the case may be, it sounds like the NBA’s age limit will be 20 sooner rather than later.

 

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.