The Unaccompanied Minors of the NBA

After much deliberation and discussion, I myself have personally arrived at the conclusion that if a player wants to go directly from high school to the NBA draft, they should be afforded the opportunity to do so, no strings attached. Ultimately, it is solely their decision and should be left as such. Whether the individual fails or succeeds is for the most part, up to the player. If they feel ready to make the leap, then who are we to tell them that they aren’t?

Having no minimum age requirement would also prevent college basketball from morphing into more of a circus than it already has. We are glorifying young 17, 18-year old kids into some kind of scholarship sweepstakes, tracking their every move as it relates to what school they are going to choose to play one year of NCAA basketball for. I’m not a super fan of the college game, but I do agree that the one-and-done trend is hurting it. On that same note , I also do not believe in forcing anyone to do anything that he or she may not want to do.

As one final piece of support to my conclusion, I’d like to touch on Jeremy Tyler, a young 6’11 phenom, who actually chose to skip his senior year of high school altogether and opted to sign with the professional Israeli team, Maccabi Haifa instead, in 2008. To play professionally for one year overseas instead of playing at a U.S. college as did Brandon Jennings is one thing, but to not even graduate high school and prematurely make that jump in itself is a decision that is simply baffling.

Now, while I obviously do not have anything in the way of concrete insight, my speculation is that Tyler was so anxious to be done with school that, instead of having to play another two years of basketball as a student athlete (senior year and one year of NCAA), he figured that he would cut that out completely and bide his time as an international pro player until he was eligible for the NBA Draft. Would he have made the questionable decision to drop out of high school if there was no age-requirement that prohibited him from turning pro following his senior year, which would have been just one more year of school? I have to believe that he would not have been so hasty and impulsive.

I must politely disagree with Kareem’s suggested age of 21 for a minimum requisite. While there is hard evidence that exhibits the clear benefits of not only playing a lot at the collegiate level, but also attending school and perhaps even earning your degree, how much a player matures and prepares himself for the NBA is really all relative.  And do bear in mind that we are speaking strictly from a basketball standpoint, not life as a whole.

If it means that much to the individual to become a well-respected and successful professional player, they will do whatever they have to do, sacrifice whatever they have to sacrifice and work however hard they must to accomplish that goal. If they are hoping to get into the NBA for all the wrong reasons or simply do not have what it takes to make the cut, it will show regardless of whether they’re an early entry or not.

The decision has been, is and always will be the player’s to make – not ours.

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