Draft age limit to be a major issue for NBA, college basketball in near future

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In his first months at the helm as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver stated on multiple occasions that he would like to see the NBA increase its age limit to 20 years old and require that American early entries be at least two years removed from high school before having the ability to play in the NBA. The National Basketball Players Association doesn’t have the same opinion on this topic, with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts stating last month that the NBA should be happy with its current “one and done” system.

On Thursday, NBPA general counsel Gary Kohlman not only noted that the union won’t have the same view of this topic when the two sides negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement but also had some strong words in regards to the current situation according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

It’s safe to say that Kohlman isn’t a fan of players having to wait a year before being eligible for the NBA Draft.

“If they were white and hockey players they would be out there playing. If they were white and baseball players they would be out there playing,” Kohlman said. “Because most of them are actually African-American and are in a sport and precluded from doing it, they have to go into this absurd world of playing (college basketball) for one year.

“That’s just total complete hypocrisy.”

Kohlman made the remarks while appearing on a panel about college athletics at a sports law conference sponsored by the firm Cozen O’Connor.

Many would counter Kohlman’s argument by stating that the limits in hockey and baseball are those negotiated by their respective owners and players’ unions. The NFL still has its rule that requires entrants to be three years removed from high school, and like the NBA the majority of its players are African-American.

During the last round of collective bargaining in 2011 the NBPA pushed for the age limit to be lowered to 18 years old, which would allow young players to enter the draft directly out of high school. Whether or not there’s a change in either direction depends upon how much of a priority the age limit is when the current CBA expires in 2017.

But regardless of what happens in 2017, the NCAA remains in a position where they can only react to what the NBA and its players union decides to do. So while some of the powers that be discuss the possibility of having freshmen in men’s basketball and football sit out to focus on their academics, to make a move (in basketball at least) would be a risky decision without knowing what the NBA will do.