No one likes the one-and-done rule. It's an NBA business decision that helps the league in obvious ways -- it forces prospects to play a year after high school, (theoretically) making draft decisions easier and preventing a wave of unproven but highly touted prep stars from flooding the league. It's not complicated.
Sure, the one-and-done is fun for selfish reasons -- one John Wall year is better than none, right? -- but it doesn't do much for the college game. It makes mercenaries out of recruits. It makes a joke of the idea that athletes should also be students. (When you can blow off your second semester, then why go at all?) And with so much yearly turnover at the sport's highest levels, the rule makes it difficult for casual college hoops fans to get their arms around the sport.
FanHouse interviewed a whole mess of college coaches about the rule and, no surprise, they don't like it. But the most radical idea of all comes from Kansas State's Frank Martin, who'd like to go back to the days of junior varsity college hoops. For real:
Martin admits his school benefited from [Michael] Beasley's one-and-done at Kansas State, but he still doesn't like the rule. He has a way to fix it -- although he knows it likely would never happen.
"Go back to 15 scholarships and make freshman ineligible to play, but that won't pass," Martin said. "I understand the positives of the [one-and-done] rule. However, if academic integrity is of importance than something has to be done to combat the rule because the rule is set up in a way that college is being disrespected."
Uh, yeah, that's not going to happen. Interesting idea, but yeah. No.
A better, more likely option would be something akin to baseball's system, which forces players to attend college for three years if they choose to enroll rather than staying in the MLB draft out of high school. Most coaches and fans seem to agree.
Baseball's farm system is entirely different from the NBA's, but this could work. It would allow the five or six truly special high school players -- guys like LeBron James, who have no business in the college game and should be free to start earning as soon as possible -- to start their professional careers right away. The rest of the prospects, guys who might one day have a pro career but who wouldn't be prepared to make the leap after high school, are committed to college for at least two years, which halves the sport's annual turnover, creates more congealed teams and more sophisticated basketball, and forces players to maintain their eligibility by actually, you know, going to class. It's the best, most realistic way to go.
Until the NBA reviews its rule, though, the one-and-done will continue to wreak a bizarre brand of havoc on the college game, making amateur hoops more entertaining while increasingly damaging the notion of amateur athletics in the first place. Fun, right?