As the playoffs continue and the 2011-12 NBA lockout-shortened season draws to a close, many players, coaches, owners, and fans are looking forward to having a promising offseason.
Although some anticipate achieving success through free agency or trades, for many hope lies within the NBA Draft.
And on June 28th, 12 of the 14 teams that missed this year’s postseason will have a chance to improve their rosters by selecting within the first 14 picks of the first round.
While this year’s draft class features many talented athletes, including 8 of the 10 players who received either first or second team NCAA Men’s Basketball Consensus All-American honors, skill is not always a result of experience.
Among these prospects are 10 players who, after playing only one year at their respective colleges or universities, forwent their sophomore seasons by declaring for the draft.
Since the NBA enforced an age-limit in 2006 which requires players to be 19 years old in order to be eligible to enter the draft, 39 so-called “one-and-done” players have been selected including 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose, two-time All-Star Kevin Love, and three-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant.
Despite the success of one-and-done players like these and even those like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James who were all drafted out of high school before the rule was implemented, year after year the question remains— Are players directly out of or one year removed from high school truly ready for the NBA?
According to Kentucky head coach John Calipari, the answer is shockingly no.
Since the university hired him in 2009, Kentucky has been a breeding ground for one-and-done players.
In the past six years, five Wildcats have been drafted into the NBA including point guard John Wall who was selected No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards in 2010.
However, Calipari has openly given his support to NBA Commissioner David Stern’s promotion of a 20-year age limit to enter draft, which would give college players at least one extra year to develop their games.
In a recent interview with CBSSports’ John Rothstein, Calipari spoke of the future in terms of one day viewing Stern’s legacy through his efforts to “keep these kids in school longer, because it’s better for the NBA to have a more seasoned player.”
Another source of controversy surrounding the rule is that of a one-and-done player’s failure to receive a college education.
More specifically, college basketball players are scoring points on the court but not scoring degrees by attending college with no intention of graduating, viewing it only as a pit stop between high school and the NBA.
In an effort to address this problem, Richard Lapchick, the primary author of a 2011 study conducted by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, suggests that the minimum Academic Progress Rate (APR)— a measure of a team’s student-athlete success—should be increased.
The APR improves graduation rates by allowing the NCAA to issue sanctions in the form of lost scholarships to teams that fail to meet the standard of academic performance, allowing scholarship opportunities to be given to student-athletes who intend on staying in college for more than one year.
However, with the NCAA gradually increasing its standards on APR and no immediate change to the NBA’s age limit for draft eligibility in sight, we will see many more one-and-done basketball players in the upcoming years.
Out of the 10 such players in this year’s draft class, point guard Marquis Teague, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and power forward Anthony Davis were all freshman starters on Calipari’s Kentucky team that went on to win the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship.
Davis, the 2012 National Player of the Year, is projected to be selected No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Hornets.
With hopes of adding another lottery pick to their roster to complement that of Wall, forward Jan Vesely, and center Nene, the Wizards must decide what to do with the No. 3 overall pick— whether that is to go for a player with experience like junior power forward Thomas Robinson from Kansas or select based on the potential of someone like Bradley Beal, the young one-and-done shooting guard from Florida who turns 19 on the day of the draft.