By the end of the 2013 season, the NCAA will have passed academic reforms that require Junior College players to have a 2.5 GPA in their transferrable credits in other to become eligible at a Division I school.
Not only is that number a significant bump from the 2.0 GPA currently required, it is higher than the GPA required for freshmen (2.3) or for a player to remain eligible once they are at a Division I school (2.0 in most places).
“It almost seems like they’re legislating it this way because they don’t want junior college kids anymore,” Steve Forbes, a former Tennessee assistant who is now the head coach at Northwest Florida State, a team that made it all the way to the NJCAA title game this year, told ESPN.com. “To be honest, it’s outlandish.”
While most players are able to play at the Division I level immediately, there is still value in going to a JuCo for a year or two. For starters, it not only allows a kid to get their grades up, but it also allows them to continue to develop their basketball skills. There are quite a few players that end up playing Division I basketball after two years at a community college that may never have been able to earn a scholarship without that stopover. The JuCo ranks are also a way for coaches to add physically mature players that will be able to contribute immediately.
There is also talent that comes through the JuCo ranks. This past season, Jae Crowder of Marquette and LaRon Dendy of Middle Tennessee State joined a list of over 80 players that have won a Conference Player of the Year award after spending time at a Junior College. That list includes a number of hoopers that you’ve probably heard of:
– Before becoming Memphis’ defensive stopper and one of the most interesting twitter follows in the NBA, Tony Allen was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2004 after leading Oklahoma State to the Final Four.
– Harold “The Show” Arceneaux was a two-time Big Sky Player of the Year after spending a year at two different JuCos. He also led Weber State to a first round upset of UNC in 1999 with 36 points.
– Before his 13 year NBA career and before he was the Big West Player of the Year at UNLV in 1987, Armon Gilliam spent a year at Independence College in Kansas. Grandmama, also known as Larry Johnson, was at a JuCo before he won back-to-back Big West Player of the Year awards for UNLV. Johnson also happened to play on two of the greatest collegiate teams of all-time.
– Avery Johnson had a long career in the NBA after winning the 1988 SWAC Player of the Year award at Southern, but before he even got to college, Johnson made two different stops at the JuCo level.
– Vinnie Johnson, aka The Microwave, was a two-time all-american at Baylor, but it took him two years at a Junior College to get to that level.
– Other names you will recognize: David Wesley, Ricky Pierce, Jamaal Tinsely, Marcus Thornton, Chris Porter, JR Rider, Lee Nailon.