One and done: NBA’s age restriction adds maturity and talent to rosters

By on April 10, 2007

For years, many basketball players chose to miss out on the college experience by going straight to the National Basketball Association from high school.

For some, such as the 2003 top overall draft pick LeBron James, the transition from high school to the pros went smoothly. James has led the Cleveland Cavaliers to respectability and earned a reputation as one of the best young athletes in sports.

Others haven’t done so well. The Washington Wizards used their top overall pick on Kwame Brown in 2001. Brown has posted mediocre numbers, and no longer plays for the Wizards.

Instead of starting on a top college team, Brown saw limited action his first two seasons as a pro. He logged only 14.3 and 22.2 minutes per game respectively during those years.

Last season, to prevent high school seniors from entering the NBA draft the same month that they graduate high school the league instituted an age limit of 19.

Star high school players now have to play at least a year of college basketball. The new rule is simply brilliant.

The age limit has come under great scrutiny. Yet, its benefits are unquestionable.

The age restriction forces inexperienced players to take a year to develop rather than sit on NBA benches. Such development would almost certainly have helped Brown more than sitting on the bench in Washington.

Clearly, James needed no additional development. Yet, wouldn’t his already phenomenal resume look even better if he had played in a Final Four in the 2003-04 season?

And wouldn’t basketball fans have benefited from witnessing James possibly go for a national title that year, rather than play for a developing Cavs team?

Basketball fans certainly benefited from Ohio State’s renowned Greg Oden leading the Buckeyes to the national title game last week. Oden himself received more attention playing for Ohio State than he would have participating in the great journey of boredom of the NBA regular season.

The money will come to Oden whenever he enters the NBA. When that takes place, he likely will not regret spending at least one year in college.

Furthermore, college develops a student-athlete both on and off the court.

Some may doubt the benefit of such a short college experience. Many of the players who go to college for a single season will enter the NBA draft in June of their freshman year.

However, those with a fresh memory of their first year away from home may feel differently.

Personally, I felt my first year of college was the greatest experience of my life to that point. Even if I had never returned to Quinnipiac, freshman year would have served as a great phase of personal development.

As sports fans know, many pro athletes could use a little more fine-tuning. Few 18-year-olds possess the maturity to deal with the pressures and temptations of playing in the NBA. They might as well be college kids for at least a year.


About Andy McDonough