Why the “one-and-done” rule should not be in effect in the NBA

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Amir Johnson was selected 56th in the 2005 NBA draft to the Detroit Pistons. Johnson, 18 at the time, would be the last high school basketball player to be drafted out of high school. Since 2005, high school basketball players have been required to attend college for at least one year before attempting to go pro. The rule also requires that everyone must be nineteen years of age in order to be eligible for the draft. This controversial topic has led to many different opinions throughout the basketball world. The ultimate goal for most division one college basketball players is to someday make it to the league and make a living playing basketball. The rule that mandates athletes to attend college for a year presents nothing but negative effects on the players’ long-term careers. During one year of college basketball, athletes put their bodies on the line day in and day out and have no opportunity to make an income off their popularity and talent. 

On December 16, it was announced that the Supreme Court will rule on the issue of college athletes being allowed to take in money for their popularity and success in college athletics; however, even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of this, and allows athletes to be paid, it will take some time before the rule is officially put into effect. The decision of the Supreme Court will likely change the opinions of some on the “one and done” rule. Until that decision, NCAA athletes will continue to show out on the court for millions of spectators for free. 

Players like Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Kevin Garnett proved that they had the talent to compete with professionals straight out of high school. Along with others, these players had and are having hall of fame caliber careers. With that being said, athletes who would like to go straight to the league are taking a chance on their entire basketball careers. Going to college gives a player a chance to develop and better prepare themselves for the NBA. It is a big jump from high school basketball to the NBA level. Not many players are mature enough to be successful at the professional stage immediately following high school.

College basketball is a physically demanding sport. The chances of an injury are very likely. In some cases, an injury can completely diminish an athlete’s opportunity to be successful at the next level. Zion Williamson suffered a severe knee injury during his freshman season at Duke. Williamson was one of the most sought after recruits coming out of high school and clearly an exceptional player. Despite the setback, Zion declared for the 2019 NBA draft and was taken number one overall. His injury bled into his rookie season in the NBA and as a result, he only competed in 24 out of 72 regular-season games. Zion still has plenty of time to recover and succeed in the NBA, but if he would have been drafted out of high school, he may have had a better start to his professional career. Kevin Ware was an outstanding basketball player at the University of Louisville and had a bright future in front of him in the NBA. He suffered arguably the most grueling and tragic injury in the history of basketball in 2003 during the Elite Eight in the NCAA March Madness tournament. This goes to show that injuries are a part of the game, they happen, but when a player has the skill set that would allow for them to excel at the professional level, they should be able to take advantage of that opportunity.

One benefit of players going to college is that they get an opportunity to earn a degree. A university education will help athletes to get an excellent job out of college; however, the high school superstars are likely going to be “one and done” in college. If this is the case, why make an athlete go to college for one year? Some may say that this gives them an opportunity to return to college if the unfortunate event of an injury or a decrease in skill level occurs, but if the player is certain that he or she wants to enter the draft, then returning to college after a professional career is always an option.

Overseas, teenage basketball players can turn pro at any time. Luka Doncic was playing professional basketball in Spain when he was just 16 years old. High school basketball players in the United States have the option to go overseas and play professionally instead of attending college. LaMelo Ball bounced around the world playing for various teams and leagues until he was eligible for the draft. This makes me wonder why teenagers can play professionally across the world, but not in the NBA. 

The transition from high school to professional basketball is a jump that few high school athletes can take on. Most everyone competing in college basketball dreams of making a living in the NBA. Forcing superstars to attend college for one year is pointless and only reduces their chances of a successful professional career.

Why the “one-and-done” rule should still be in effect in the NBA