John Calipari wants 2-year college requirement before players can enter NBA draft

USA TODAY Sports

Calipari wants all of his five-star recruits to stay in college for two years before turning pro.

Kentucky coach John Calipari wants players to spend two seasons in college before heading to the NBA, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy.

The debate over when to allow a player to turn pro has gone on for years. It's a tricky situation; on one hand, it's difficult for an 18-year-old athlete to turn down the millions of dollars that come with a professional contract, especially if his family struggles financially. On the other, remaining in college for two years often does a lot of good for the player in terms of their development and their maturity away from the court.


The quality of play in college basketball would undoubtedly improve if players had to play two seasons. Imagine if players like Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis spent two years in Durham, N.C., and Lexington, Ky., instead of just one apiece.

There is an ongoing discussion on how to fix college basketball and make it more appealing to casual fans. Keeping the nation's best players on campus for at least two years would only help. The two-year rule would also provide much more roster stability for coaching staffs around the country, even with the number of players transferring schools at an all-time high.

The student-athletes should have a say in all this, too. Why should they have to play an extra season in college without (legal) payment when they could be playing for millions in the NBA? There is also the injury concern; if the player suffers a potential career-threatening injury during his two years in college, who becomes responsible for the money he loses out on down the road?

Granted, some prospects may have such a high ceiling that an injury may not affect their draft chances. Nerlens Noel tore his ACL at Kentucky earlier this year and is still expected to go No. 1 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.

There is also the issue of ensuring NBA franchises don't get the raw end of the deal. With the current one-year rule in place, many experts consider this year's draft class to be weaker than most others.

If high school players were still eligible to forgo college and head straight to the league, this year's No. 1 prep prospect, Andrew Wiggins, would be the odds-on favorite to be drafted with the No. 1 pick. Other class of 2013 prospects such as Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Jabari Parker would also likely be top-10 picks.

If Calipari's desire for a two-year rule were granted, these players wouldn't be eligible for the NBA until the summer of 2015. That's an awfully long time for elite prospects to wait, especially when professional teams would be willing to take a chance on them now.

As Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson once asked, why should college basketball players be forced to play by a different set of rules than those going into traditional professions? If IBM or Google walked into a business school and offered a freshman with a bright future a seven-figure salary, he or she wouldn't have to turn it down and jeopardize his or her future because of a collective bargaining agreement.

It's a sticky situation, and there's no easy solution in sight.

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