early entry rule

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces Karl-Anthony Towns as the overall first pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press

NCAA makes much-needed changes to pre-draft calendar

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One of the major points of contention in college basketball in recent years has been the NCAA calendar for early NBA Draft entrants. Wednesday afternoon the NCAA announced that some changes have been made, and they’re alterations that should benefit athletes moving forward.

The withdrawal deadline, which in 2011 was moved to just before the start of the spring signing period (mid-April), has been pushed to ten days following the completion of the NBA’s annual NBA Draft Combine. The combine is held in mid-May (May 11-15 this year), so this year athletes will have until May 25 to make a final decision. This allows them the time to go through workouts with teams and receive more feedback before making the decision to either keep their name in the draft pool or return to school.

In regards to the pre-draft workouts, players are allowed to enter the NBA Draft multiple times without jeopardizing their eligibility, and they can participate in the combined and one tryout per NBA team per year as well. These changes won’t impact guys who are projected to be lottery picks. But for those who may be on the fence or don’t enter the process as high on draft boards, having the ability to get better evaluations can only help them.

In 2009 the NCAA moved the deadline for players to withdraw from the draft to early May, only to move it to just before the start of the spring signing period two years later. That change was sparked by the complaints of some coaches, as they were concerned about what a hasty departure could do to their roster for the next season while also dealing with the spring signing period.

But of all the players who leave school early on any given year, how many are truly surprises? In most instances there’s ample time to address a possible early departure on the recruiting trail, and that will continue to be the case moving forward. Open dialogue can help in these situations, and being able to discuss workouts and feedback from NBA decision-makers can only help the players and coaches as they work through the decision-making process.

Will there be a change to the NBA’s age limit?

silver
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The current “one and done” rule is one that has received a high amount of attention in recent years, especially during this season given the number of high-level freshmen on the scene. That rule is a product of negotiations between the NBA’s owner and its players association, with the 2004 NBA Draft being the last one in which players could go directly from high school to the professional ranks.

Every few years when the league’s collective bargaining agreement would need to be renegotiated the rule would seemingly fall by the wayside, with the owners and players eventually moving on to topics that were deemed more important than the possibility of making young players wait longer (or not at all) to have a shot at the NBA.

That could change in the near future, with David Stern retiring as NBA commissioner last week and being replaced by his long-time right hand man in Adam Silver. According to NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper, one of Silver’s biggest goals is the raise the NBA’s age limit to 20 and require that a player’s high school graduating class be two years removed before being eligible to enter the NBA.

At present time, and this would likely be the case even if the age limit were raised to 20, players don’t have to attend college during their one year “wait.” There’s the D-League and overseas leagues, although the number of players who have taken advantage of these options has been low. For some this is because college basketball is seen as the “best” place for players to develop, but there are certainly people who don’t agree with that.

Will a rule change benefit college basketball? Yes. Who wouldn’t want to know that they’d be able to watch a player like Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins for two years (and to be clear, we don’t know for a fact that they won’t be back in school next year despite the assumptions)? But there are also other variables at play, the biggest of which likely being if the NBA decides at some point to use the D-League as a true minor league “system” for it’s professional franchises.

At present time 14 NBA teams have a direct relationship with a D-League franchise, with the D-League having a total of 17 teams. Is the D-League in position to expand, thereby allowing all 30 NBA teams to have its own franchise to develop young players in? The answer to that question could impact how beneficial an age limit change would be to college basketball as well.

Clearly there are many variables to be discussed when commissioner Silver meets with the newly elected powers that be of the NBPA. All college basketball can do is sit back and wait, with many hoping that the NBA will add a year to its age limit.

h/t The Sporting News

Scrapping the NBA’s age limit wouldn’t be a good development for the NCAA

Mark Emmert
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Between the ongoing lawsuits brought about by former college athletes such as Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller, and the almost daily perception hits taken over transfers and other major issues, this offseason hasn’t been particularly kind to the NCAA. With this being the case, NCAA president Mark Emmert is in search of possible solutions that would allow the organization to maintain its “amateur” status.

During a talk on Monday in which Emmert stated that if a student-athlete was going to play at the collegiate level they’d have to be a student as well, he also made an interesting suggestion as to what those who don’t have the desire to be a student should do. The suggestion: that the select few who want to go pro should be allowed to do so directly out of high school. With the D-League able to take high school graduates (they’d be ineligible for an NBA call-up, of course) and overseas league having no such rules regarding age, there are options for those who would want to entertain such a route.

But for every Brandon Jennings who has family members with him while playing overseas (his mother and brother were with him in Rome), there’s a Jeremy Tyler who had no such support system overseas with him when he made the decision to bypass college (as well as his senior year of high school). If anything the suggestion by Emmert amounts to passing the buck, because when it comes to the pro ranks the best league (NBA) requires a player’s graduating class be a year removed before they’re eligible to play in the NBA.

And until the owners and NBPA decide that they want that rule to change, that particular avenue remains closed for prospective athletes (and given the other issues that tend to come up when the collective bargaining agreement is up for renegotiation, the draft entry rule tends to fall into the background). Would reopening that door be the solution the NCAA needs? Well such a change could spell doom for the college basketball product (especially if the NBA used the D-League as a legitimate youth development league), as noted by Andy Glockner of SI.com:

If the NBA, over time, views the NCAA pipeline as less and less beneficial to its own needs, there will be more motivation for the league to explore other legitimate options to the NCAA, whether it’s really blowing out the D-League, starting club structures similar to Europe, somehow utilizing Europe’s club structures as an approved farm system, etc. Any of those options successfully pursued in full would be a long-term disaster for the NCAA. A systematic weakening and possibly eventual elimination of men’s basketball as a big-money product would essentially put it out of business.

Given the changes that have occurred in collegiate athletics over the last decade, it’s rather obvious that some changes need to be made. But does President Emmert really want the NBA to reopen its doors to high school graduates? Sure there may be many young players who would welcome the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, but without the elite prospects (if even for a year) capable of moving to the next level the overall talent level drops.

And if the on-court talent level drops, it’s only a matter of time before those lucrative television contracts lose some of their value as well.