At age 18, one has the decision to attend college or enter the workplace. But, highly-touted basketball prospects do not have that choice, as players must wait until age 19, or a calendar year after they graduate high school to enter the NBA draft. After the rule was established in 2006 by former NBA commissioner David Stern, players have begun to attend college for the basketball season, then leave early to prepare for the NBA.
Making players wait a year after high school to enter the draft is egregious. Many players don’t need a year in college, including star point guard Ben Simmons. Simmons attended LSU, where he didn’t attend and failed his classes (didn’t meet the 2.0 GPA requirement to be eligible for the Wooden Award). It wasted a year of his career and was unnecessary.
Although Simmons didn’t hurt his draft stock in college, many players did including
BJ Mullens (#2 player in class of 2008), who after dominating as a senior, was a top prospect, but was not allowed to go pro. If he could’ve gone pro, the 7’1” center would’ve earned at least 10 million dollars off of his rookie contract alone. Instead, Mullens attended Ohio State University, struggled, then was picked #24 overall and was out of the league after the 2013-14 season.
Forcing players to attend college hurts the players financially. Instead of going straight to the NBA, players have to play basketball for free in college for a season. New York Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay his brother was raised by a single mother who immigrated to Dallas from Africa. Instead of attending college, Mudiay signed a deal to play with the Guangdong Sharks in China for 1.2 million dollars in order to immediately provide for his family. Mudiay fell to 6th overall in the 2015 draft because of his decision to go to China for one season, away from NBA scouts. The NBA is now allowing prospects like Darius Bazley to enter their G-league out of high school, but that only guarantees $25,000 and nothing more. While taking players out of high school is a risk, selecting any player in the NBA draft is a risk. Adam Morrison averaged 28.1 points per game as a junior for Gonzaga, yet averaged only 7.5 points per game through his career after being selected 3rd overall in 2006.
Most players need to attend college in order to develop their game for the NBA. But for players who need the money or feel like they’re ready, it should be their choice whether to enter the NBA draft or not. If 18-year-olds allowed to enter the military or enter the workforce, why can’t they enter the NBA?