On Saturday, Thomas S. Monson — the President of the Church of Latter Day Saints — announced that the age for full-time missionary service has been lowered for both men and women.
The new requirement for men is that they be 18 years old if they are a high school graduate, a change that could end up having a massive effect on the college hoops landscape.
The biggest reason is the Class of 2013’s most intriguing recruit: Jabari Parker.
It’s no secret that Parker is a Mormon. That’s why BYU was able to find a place in Parker’s recently released list of top five schools while Kentucky — who we’ve been told can get any recruit that they want — wasn’t. The way that the system was previously set up allowed for athletes — and Mormon college students in general — to go to school for a year before heading off on their two-year mission.
But with the lowered age-requirements, that year in college is no longer required. Top 50 recruit and BYU commit Nick Emery, the high-scoring little brother of former BYU star Jackson Emery, has already made clear his desire to go on a mission directly out of high school:
My plans are to leave right after graduation and come back and have 4 straight years! #BYU #can‘twait
— Nick Emery (@Nick_Emery4) October 7, 2012
What if Parker follows the same path?
NBA rules stipulate that a prospect has to be one year out of high school to enter the NBA Draft, but that one year doesn’t have to be spent in college. If Parker goes on his two-year mission directly out of high school, would he go straight into the league afterwards?
Parker hasn’t announced whether or not he intends to go on a mission, which would be a major interruption in his hoops career, but given how devout he is as a Mormon, it’s a legitimate possibility.
This rule change will also have a major effect on how BYU, as well as other schools in the state of Utah that rely on Mormon athletes, recruit. Emery won’t don a BYU jersey until the 2015-2016 season. That’s a long way down the road.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.