As much as it pains me to praise a Mike Bianchi column, this is spot on.
“It is my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people, for a longer amount of time, before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league,” Silver said during NBA All-Star Weekend. “… That’s something as I travel the league I increasingly hear from our coaches, who feel that many of even the top players in the league could use more time to develop even as leaders as part of college programs.”
Translation: NBA teams want college basketball programs to do the job of developing and marketing stars for them — for free. Clearly, the league is tired of getting players like Cleveland’s Anthony Bennett, last year’s No. 1 draft pick, who clearly aren’t ready for the NBA after only one season in college.
So Silver proposes forcing players to stay in college an extra year, meaning NCAA basketball would be be filled with even more prospective NBA wannabes, who would be forced to go from one-and-done in college to two-and-through. Donovan’s stance is he doesn’t want the extra year of headaches and distractions that come from players who have no desire to be in college.
“College basketball coaches and programs are taking on all the risks,” Donovan says. “The kid doesn’t want to be in college and wants to be in the NBA, but because of the rules, he has to stay in college. Now you’re opening yourself up for potential NCAA violations. … You’ve got players like Jabari Parker [Duke] or Julius Randle [Kentucky], and there is so much coming at these kids. If a kid takes something he’s not supposed to take or he is enticed into something, it’s the colleges that are put in harm’s way.”
One of the biggest reasons the NCAA’s stance on amateurism is increasingly untenable is because there is no professional outlet for kids coming out of high school who want to earn a living playing sports immediately and don’t want to go to college. I’m no NCAA suck up, but that’s not the NCAA’s responsibility.
The problem is with the blatant manipulation of the labor market you see going on with the NBA here – and don’t think that the NFL won’t stoop to a little manipulation of its own if the current situation of third-year players flooding the draft continues – the NCAA is still getting stuck with the check. And there’s a real risk it’s going to overwhelm college athletics.
It’s good to see a high-profile coach like Donovan call out Silver’s bullshit for what it is. His peers should join him. And the NCAA should figure out some steps it could take to send its own message to the pro leagues that it doesn’t appreciate the position it’s been forced into.