Current NCAA regulations forbid any player who declares for the NBA draft and signs with an agent to return to his college team, even if he goes undrafted. It’s a particularly cruel facet of an already exploitative system, and a rule that’s explicitly designed to keep players within the bounds of the NCAA, where they can work for free, instead of taking a shot at making an NBA roster. Steve Kerr has a good idea regarding this particular rule: Get rid of it! “Don’t keep this ruse going,” he said on Monday. “We all know what’s going on.”
One of the things the NCAA needs to look at is, if a kid signs with an agent and he doesn’t get drafted, welcome him back. Why not? What’s the harm? We talk about amateurism and all this stuff, but if you’re truly trying to do what’s right for the kid, and the kid declares for the draft and doesn’t get drafted, you know what? Welcome him back. Do something good for the kids
ESPN reported yesterday that Adam Silver and the NBA are “preparing to get involved again with elite high school basketball players,” a vague goal which includes meeting with the NBPA about the one-and-done rule and possibly beefing up the D-League to serve as an honest-to-God minor league instead of a half-measure/temp agency for tall people. At this point, the NBA hasn’t settled on anything in particular, but actively exploring ways to transition elite prospects into the NBA shows that the league’s higher-ups recognize that the NCAA model is broken and does not serve the needs of its players.
Ideally, the NBA can help build a bridge directly from the high school game for 18-year-olds who are truly ready for life in the league, bypassing the NCAA entirely. It’s absurd that someone like LeBron James would have to spin his wheels for a year in college under the current system. Most elite high school prospects aren’t necessarily ready for the NBA, and Kerr’s idea would help make the NCAA’s exploitation of its free labor force less draconian for those who really do need a year or two to prepare. The most fair solutions, of course, would be to abolish the draft and the NCAA entirely or simply pay college players on the open market, but Kerr’s idea would help players and diminish the NCAA’s iron grip over its unpaid labor force.