Opinion: Don’t allow one-and-dones

By: Luke Feliciano ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of balldontstop.com | Ben Simmons as a freshman at LSU.

The NCAA estimates that the probability of college basketball players going to play professionally in the NBA is only 1.1 percent. That statistic alone raises a question: Why are so many players opting to stay for just one year of college and test the waters of the NBA Draft?

Judging by different mock drafts for the impending NBA Draft this spring, this will be another year where a lot of freshmen will leave college and declare for the draft in a phenomenon known as a “one-and done-player.” Once again, teams like the Kentucky Wildcats will in all likelihood have a new starting five next season, as at least three of their freshmen are projected to be drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. I honestly think it is ridiculous how 18-year-old kids are using the university simply as a middleman to get to the pros.

The main reason I am against this allowance is leaving after one year of college is a giant waste of a scholarship. The turnover rate from college to the pros is so astronomically low, yet athletes are willing to give up their scholarship to turn pro.

Athletes for Division I programs have the opportunity to pursue a degree essentially without paying a dime, but instead they decide to leave school after one year.

The 2010 Knight Commission study entitled “Restoring the Balance” stated that college teams should have more academic transparency. Despite this finding, there are clearly some schools that do not follow the mandate. Take for example, Ben Simmons, who last year at LSU was most likely going to be the winner of the Wooden Award, which is the Most Valuable Player of college basketball.

The only problem is that Simmons did not meet the academic criteria to be eligible for the ballot. One such criterion requires candidates to have at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA, which Simmons did not have. Essentially, Simmons threw away $100,000 of an education.

I’m not completely against college athletes leaving early. I just think athletes should value their education to a much higher degree. I don’t see why the NCAA allows college basketball players to leave after just one year of playing in college, especially when college football players can’t leave until having at least three years of college under their belts. At least in that case, an athlete would be able to have enough credit hours to be able to graduate within three years.

In addition, being in college for three years would better prepare athletes for life in the pros from both a physical and mental standpoint.

Perhaps, the best solution for college basketball is to implement the rule that college football uses by making players stay for at least three years.

That requirement is the best of both worlds. Athletes can receive their college education and earn a degree while simultaneously developing their basketball skills in pursuit of a professional career.