CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NBA commissioner Adam Silver made headlines last week when he announced a bold move to allow select high school players to enter the G-League, the NBA’s development league.
Silver said last Thursday that the NBA will not be doing away with the 19-year-old draft age requirement that has created the one-and-done phenomenon in college basketball, but instead will create a way for top prospects to sidestep the collegiate process and earn $125,000 while preparing for the draft in the NBA-owned league.
The move could have been interpreted as a talent grab by the NBA and a way to set up a long-term end-around of college basketball altogether, but that’s not the way ACC commissioner John Swofford interpreted the news.
In fact, he seemed to welcome the idea of fewer one-and-done players while at the same time, keeping the same overall model that has existed for several years.
“I certainly don’t have a problem with it at all from a collegiate perspective,” Swofford said. “I think it gives another avenue that a young person can take, if he so chooses. And that may be in the best interests of some of those young people.
“And hopefully it helps get us to the point where the one-and-done rule can be out of the picture and helps us get to the point where the NBA and the Players Association where players, if they want to, can go directly to the NBA draft. But I don’t know a lot about the particulars of it, and I get the impression that the G-League and the NBA is still working on a number of those particulars. But fundamentally, I think it’s good in the sense that it gives some young people another avenue. …
“So I don’t think that college basketball is going to be hurt by a half dozen or a dozen really elite players that would have been with us for one year but now being if we reach that point they can go directly into the NBA and would never have been on our campuses. I just don’t believe that creates a negative for college basketball.”
As Swofford said, much of the details of the plan need to be sorted out. That has many of the ACC’s upper-tier head coaches holding their breath to see if this is going to be an issue for the true blue bloods like Duke and Kentucky that are currently getting most of the one-and-done players or something that all coaches are going to need to concern themselves with.
“I’m talking to other coaches, is the new rule — will it be four, five young men interested in that? Could it be 30?” Notre Dame head coach Mike Grey posited. “I don’t know. … The one thing I would say, and this is the big picture down the road. The NBA did react to the Rice Commission with this. I’m not sure it’s completely right. But we do have some cooperation here with them listening a little bit to some of the things the Rice Commission presented and the NABC, the coaches association, had a lot of input in Rice Commission suggestions.”
On the other hand, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel seemed wholeheartedly in support of the idea.
“There’s some kids that don’t want to go to college,” Capel said. “It’s not their thing. That’s fine. I don’t think it’s our responsibility as adults and as coaches to make them do something.
“You can say, ‘We know what’s better for them,’ but you don’t know what’s better because you don’t know their life, their experience, what they’re going through currently or what their family is going through.
“I think, the more opportunities these young people get to make something better for their lives or to have an opportunity to pursue a professional career right away, I think it’s great.
“They get an opportunity in baseball to do it, tennis, golf, and all these other things. Our sport is the one they haven’t for a little bit.”