Possible Freshman Eligibility Rule Change Isn’t For Players Benefit

By Ryan Mayer

The NCAA is considering re-instating the freshman ineligibility rule that was voted down back in 1972. Part of the reason for this consideration is the continuing debate over the one and done rule as it’s called for college basketball players. The rule was instituted as part of an age restriction back in 2006. There’s been heated debate from both sides of the aisle as to whether one and done is good or bad for the players themselves among many other questions. Let’s tackle strictly the statistics of the number of one and done players that declared for the draft, how many were drafted and how many are still currently in the league before we get to my side of the argument.

Using RealGM’s draft eligible players list for each year since the rule was instituted in 2006 there have been 80 players from the US that went to college for one season and declared for the NBA Draft. Of those 80, 71 players have been picked by NBA teams. Let’s look at the 9 undrafted before we go further. They are: Antonio Rucker, William Alston, Erik Austin, Jereme Richmond, Roscoe Davis, Tommy Mason Griffin, Nate Miles, Kellen Lee, Robert Earl Johnson. Of those nine players, seven either were declared ineligible by the NCAA or went to community college because they couldn’t gain NCAA eligibility before declaring. The other two: Tommy Mason Griffin and Jereme Richmond went to Oklahoma and Illinois respectively and were fringe prospects given bad advice.

That said, the 71/80 translates to an 88% rate of players who declared after one year and were drafted into the NBA. That doesn’t include any players that went to play in Europe instead of playing college ball in the US. From that 71 player sample we took a look at the players drafted from 2006-2012, because the 2013 and 2014 class are all in their infancy as NBA players. Also all of those players are currently with either their NBA team or on their D-League rosters. That narrows the list of drafted guys down to 53 from 2006-2012 after playing one season of college basketball. Of those 53 players, 41 are still in the league. That’s a 77% retention rate in the NBA of one and done players.

The 12 guys that aren’t in the league you might ask? Greg Oden (injury), Javaris Crittenton (currently standing trial for murder), Daequan Cook (6 seasons before playing in Europe this year), Bill Walker (playing in Phillipines, after 4 year NBA career), Anthony Randolph (6 seasons now in Europe), Donte Greene (4 NBA seasons now overseas), Michael Beasley (6 seasons now in China), Byron Mullens (5 seasons, now in D-League), Daniel Orton (4 seasons now in Phillipines), Xavier Henry (4 seasons waived this year by Lakers after injury), Keith “Tiny” Gallon (hasn’t played in NBA, split time between D-League and Europe), and Josh Selby (bounced back and forth between D-League and NBA, played last two years overseas). Eliminating Oden from the conversation because of the catastrophic injuries that derailed his career, the other 11 guys combined to average a 3+ year career in the league. The case against one and done players is looking flimsy.

As for the 41 guys currently in the league? Their accomplishments include:

-4 rookie of the year awards (Irving, Evans, Rose, Durant)

-2 MVP’s (Kevin Durant & Derrick Rose)

-1 Most Improved Player Award (Kevin Love 2010-11)

-9 All-NBA Team selections

-22 All-Star Selections (most come from Durant, Rose, and Love)

Just from the percentages and statistics to this point, it looks like the players that have decided that one year of college basketball is all they need have been able to carve out a good niche for themselves in the NBA at the very least. Now some within the NCAA ranks want to go back to the freshman ineligibility rules. In my opinion as that concerns the one and done players, it is not because the players aren’t good enough and they’re being hurt by leaving early. One of the main focuses will be the academic side of things and a return to the “balance of student and athlete” from the halcyon days of old.

Let me explain something before we move forward; the NCAA has made me cynical of their intentions. The organization is a money making machine that pulls in billions of dollars in revenue every year from the college football and college basketball television rights. A couple of their most recent investigations into violations have been overturned because they executed the investigations improperly. That leaves little confidence in their ability to make these kinds of decisions for the good of the “student” athletes.

What the stats above suggest to me is that for the most part, a player that is good enough to play in the NBA after one year of college is good enough to be in the league. They may not all be stars, but there’s no guarantee that four years in college would make them stars either. Perfect examples of those cases are James Michael McAdoo a projected top 5 pick after his freshman year, he stayed for all four years of college then went undrafted. Alex Poythress currently a junior at Kentucky looks to be headed down the same road. From a basketball standpoint oftentimes these guys are just fine.

The argument the NCAA will use in this case is most likely and academic one. That they would better prepare the athletes by getting rid of freshman eligibility and allow them to focus on their classes for a full year. That’s a fine theory, but that assumes that if this rule were to be instituted that more top recruits wouldn’t jump to China or Europe like Emmanuel Mudiay or Brandon Jennings. There’s another argument against it as well. College isn’t for everyone. As much as we strive to all attain higher levels of education, some people just don’t have an interest in that education. We can try to force it upon them with these types of rules but there’s no guarantee that they would take it seriously.

The question we are left with then is: Is this really to the player’s benefit?

Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.

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