This may be one of the last seasons to see talented freshmen like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger in a college uniform. Sounds as if the NBA draft age minimum is going away.
That’s been the rumor for a while now, but Auburn coach Tony Barbee made news when he confirmed as much. From the Birmingham News:
“Talking to a lot of people I know at that level, I think it’s going to go back to the old day,” Barbee said during a speech at the Birmingham Tip-Off Club. “I think it’s going to come out of this new collective bargaining agreement that the NBA will have to negotiate with the players association.”
The article also indicates that Barbee’s agent is Leon Rose, who also represents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, given his remarks some added weight.
Barbee says removing the age minimum would hurt the college game because coaches want to recruit the best players, regardless of whether they want to play in the NBA right away.
“A lot of times you can waste a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of resources recruiting that young man,” Barbee told the paper. “At least now if you get him, you know you’ll at least have him for one year, which is better than having to put all that time and effort into that young man and not get him at all. That’s a lot of time wasted you could have spent on someone else.”
As noted by Mike DeCourcy, the option college coaches would like is the “baseball rule,” which would allow players to be drafted out of high school, but if they attend college may not be selected again until three years later.
However, DeCourcy notes that NBA commissioner David Stern hasn’t shown much interest in this option.
So, this would mean no John Walls, no Kevin Durants, no Michael Beasley.
That would be a shame, but the sport would survive. Sullinger’s been a great story this season, but he’s supported by three upperclassmen. No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Texas and No. 4 Pitt all have a solid mix of upperclassmen and talented freshmen. And the player everyone’s raving about is Jimmer Fredette, who happens to be a senior. Not bad.
And hey, even the best players attend college with the NBA option. Ask Carmelo Anthony about his one year at Syracuse.
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