The One-And-Done Should Be Done

ESPN, prompted by the NBA draft, is having a he-said-he-said debate about the one-and-done. Quick, pick ↵a side: ↵
↵⇥Blaming the one-and-done rule for everything is a convenient excuse for college coaches, but doing so supposes that (a) players' leaving school after one season is some sort of new phenomenon and/or (b) college ball's recent scandals at USC (with O.J. ↵⇥Mayo) and Memphis (Derrick ↵⇥Rose) are the first scandals of their kind. ↵⇥

↵⇥Wrong and wrong. ↵⇥

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↵Did that argument enrage you? If so, welcome to the club. While the one-and-done has been a boon to the NBA's marketing and ... uh ... Syracuse, I guess, it's caused all kinds of fiascoes: ↵

↵

↵-- Greg Oden's time in an Ohio State classroom consisted of "History ↵of Rock and Roll" in the fall and "Greg Oden Skips Class" in the spring, resulted in a national-championship game appearance, and ended with Ohio State forking over scholarships due to APR penalties arising from Oden (and Kosta Koufos) leaving ↵school ineligible. ↵

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↵-- Brandon Jennings fled ↵to Europe this season instead of put up with the NBA's age limit; he played around 20 minutes a game and hated it. ↵

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↵-- Derrick Rose had someone else take his SAT for him so he could be eligible to take Memphis to a national championship game of its own. ↵

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↵-- O.J. ↵Mayo. ↵

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↵Look, man, it's not 1960 anymore: none of those kids belonged in college for one second. Many of them were questionably eligible, none gave a fractional damn about class, and all the guys who didn't head across an ocean left their schools damaged in the aftermath. Marc Stein apparently thinks that cramming these guys into college is okay because scandals happened before the one-and-done rule. In my world, "more scandals = scandals" is not a valid equation. ↵

↵

↵Having the above guys in college was a farce. While it's good for short-term excitement, in the long term it increases cynicism about the amateur nature of the competition and rewards people who skirt, flout, ignore, and go "neener neener I can't hear anything" to NCAA rules, fair or not. ↵

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↵This is where the age-limit guys come in with tales of Korleone Young, and they've got a point: the previous regime had a lot of daft kids with only a vague shot at a real NBA career enter the draft and the doors closed on them. It was not ideal. ↵

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↵But who's saying we have to go back to that state of affairs? The reason basketball players lose their eligibility when they enter the draft is because they've opted into the process. Hockey and baseball players can be drafted without losing their eligibility because they don't have to opt-in; they're just automatically registered. Michigan hockey alone has thirteen NHL draft picks on its ↵roster. Of course, you're not in the NHL draft and neither am I, so the "automatic registration" is something of a fanciful notion. ↵

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↵The NCAA did change its stance before the one-and-done rule was instituted by allowing undrafted players to regain their college eligibility, but why not allow kids who get drafted to keep playing in college? Have them drafted, let them come into camps and play in the summer league, and if they're not ready, send them back for what Stein paternalistically calls "much needed maturity" -- mmmm racial subtext. (Stein's big argument is ... wait for it ... a two-and-done ↵rule.) Clubs love stashing players in Europe for a year or three ... why not the Big Ten? ↵

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↵Hell, at that point you could expand the draft to 4, 5, or 6 rounds and give NBA players reason to track a dozen different college kids, increasing interest in the college game and the lovely pre-fab marketing the NBA loves so without forcing players with no interest in or ability to go to college to cheat and sleep their way through a college semester directed by some hair-gelled smooth operator. Everybody wins. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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