If the one-and-done era comes to an end in 2020, the line has already formed to declare for that year’s draft.
Jalen Green, the consensus top player in the Class of 2020, said he would pursue professional opportunities in the NBA should the league and its players association amend its rule to once again allow the prep-to-pro route, as has been floated by both The Commission on College Basketball and the NBA.
“I would take that if they were to change it,” Green told 247Sports. “I would want to go pro.”
Certainly, it’s no surprise that someone would rather pursue a path to instant millions rather than go the college route, but this is a question that top prospects may be weighing again in the near future.
The NBA has required players to be a year out of high school to declare for the draft since 2005, ending a decade-long era when players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady rose to prominence while cautionary tales such as Ndubi Ebi and Lenny Cooke saw their careers fizzle. The Condoleezza Rice-led commission recommended the NBA drop the requirement and allow high schoolers to once again enter the league in hopes it would lessen the corruption in college basketball The Commission was formed to curtail.
The NBA and NBPA are said to not be in a position to rescind or amend the rule until at least 2020. Which would be fine for the likes of Green, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard regarded as the top of the 2020 class.
“I just have to work on my game every day,” Green said. “Transition into more of a point guard type of guard. Shooting, passing, coming off pick and roll, talking and being more of a leader.”
Green’s statement, two years and a whole lot of hurdles away from being able to be put into action, underscores a number of points . One is that the country’s top players today, just like before 2005, would be more than willing – eager, in fact – to bypass the college game altogether. While there may be some logic to the thought that such decisions would remove some of the illicit money and influence in the game, there’s no evidence to suggest that money and influence won’t just move further down the recruiting rankings. There was, after all, plenty of nefarious stuff going on behind the curtain during the one-and-done era.
The other point is that should the rule change, college basketball will be missing out on the most talented, most interesting and most dynamic players in the country. While fairness would seem to dictate that players, once they reach adulthood at age 18, should be allowed to pursue whatever professional opportunities prospective employers deem them qualified for, it’s hard to see exactly how it would be good for college basketball’s business model, entertainment value and quality of play.
If The Commission’s recommendations come to fruition, we’ll all find out.