USA Basketball on Wednesday announced some significant changes in conjunction with the NCAA, the NBA and the NBPA, extending the Junior National Team basketball program in a way that will behoove all parties involved.
The specific changes — more and extended training camps; access for NBA teams to the camps; health care and performance training; off-court training in life skills, money management and the like; prepping families for the influx of fame, money and attention that comes with NBA stardom — are not quite as important as what those changes signify: That the end of the one-and-done rule is looming.
Let’s read the tea leaves here. This is the first time that all four parties have come together to work for a common goal. Both the Commission on College Basketball and Adam Silver have stated their desire to eliminate the one-and-done age limit. This program will provide ample opportunity for NBA teams to evaluate the top 20-or-so players in each recruiting class and will give those athletes training to better prepare their transition from being an amateur high school athlete to a an 18-year old with NBA fame and millions of dollars to spend in the biggest party cities in America. And assuming reports that Silver’s goal of allowing high school players to enter the 2022 draft are true, this would mean that kids that are currently freshmen in high school would be able to enter the draft after their senior season, the first crop of kids to spend four years in this program.
This a good thing for all involved, although it may reduce the number of future NBA superstars that arrive on a college campus — losing the Marvin Bagleys of the world is not ideal for the sport — it is unquestionably a better situation for those kids and their families.