College Basketball and the One-and-Done Dilemma


Frank Franklin II and NCAA Eligibility Resources Santa Barbara Dons

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, center, poses for a group photo during the 2016 NBA Draft with draftees Buddy Hield, front left, Kris Dunn, front right, Henry Ellenson, back left, Ben Simmons, back middle, Brandon Ingram, back right.

Jack Powers, Sports Writer/Copy Editor


The NBA is restricting players younger than 19 as ineligible for the NBA draft. “I’m not here to say we have a problem, and I love where the league is right now, but I think we can create a better system,” said Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, at an interview in Las Vegas.

The NBA raised the draft eligibility age to 19 in 2006. Most high school athletes graduate at the age of 18, forcing them to either sit out a year, play internationally, or play college basketball for one year, if planning to go play at the pro level.

In 2005,“[The union’s] principal argument is that it’s a restriction on players… And as a philosophical argument, I totally understand that,” said Silver. “Of course it’s a restriction, in the same way a draft is a restriction. But our view is that it would make for a better league. You’d have more skilled players, more mature players. The draft would be better. It would be better for basketball in general. Strong college basketball is great for the NBA. And we know those players are eventually going to come to the NBA, whether they are 19 or 20 or 21.”

Recently, small forward for Duke basketball, Zion Williamson, competed against the North Carolina Tar Heels and cut towards the hoop. Williamson’s shoe ripped during the movement and incurred a mild knee sprain.

Williamson has the talent to compete at the NBA level. “In the end, this is a business. People don’t really care about your feelings. They can always go find somebody else. This is a business decision and I felt this was the best place for me,” said Williamson, according to Spartanburg Herald-Journal, after committing to Duke.

The injury of Williamson prompted the discussion on whether the NBA needs to lower the draft eligibility age to 18. If so, it would then allow these athletes to go straight to the pro level without playing a full year of college basketball.

“I personally think that there needs to be more room for individuals who want to pursue professional sports to be able to do that, particularly in basketball,” said Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA. “There needs to be the ability for a young person and his family to say, ‘You know, what I really want to do is just become a professional ball player.’ And they ought to be provided that opportunity if they don’t want to go to college.”

The NBA is a strong league, with the most talented athletes in the world all competing against each other. “Basically the athletes capable of going to the NBA have to play lower competition then what they can; not getting to play to the same skill level,” said Sourav Vemulapalli, a sophomore athlete and NBA fan.

“If there are other pathways for students, for young people who don’t want to go to college and want to go be a professional athlete, good grief, those should exist and be developed, and that pathway should be opened for that young person,” said Emmert.

“[Going to college] allows you to gain confidence before going to the NBA… and allows them to get valued schooling,” said Vemulapalli.

In baseball, athletes are eligible for the draft if the have graduated high school and have not attended a college of any level. If they do attend college, they are not eligible until they completed their junior or senior years in college. This gives athletes the choice to go directly to the pro level, but if not, they have to stay in college for three to four years.

This is largely because of Major League Baseball’s large minor league system, with a variety of platforms for the athletes to play professionally. The NBA on the other hand, has a small G-league system, or the “minor league” level.

The NBA opened other options for high school athletes to go directly to the pro level in 2019-2020 season. They could be given a 5-month contract worth $125,000. “Let’s give them their due,” said Emmert.

This benefits the NCAA. “Universities and colleges have consistently said they don’t want to have student-athletes become employees of a university. They don’t want them to be playing for compensation.” said Emmert. Many high school basketball athletes have chosen to play at the college level for a year rather than take the 5-month contract.

The G-League is just too small and not the competition these elite high school players are looking for. There is no five-month contract at the pro level, which they “have this in place at the NBA level too,” said Vemulapalli.

“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” said Silver. “When I’ve weighed the pros and cons…that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league, and in essence the college community is saying we do not want those players anymore. That sort of tips the scale in my mind that we should be taking a serious look at lowering our age to 18.”

“[Any lower than this]kids could lose their confidence, and their beat up by the tougher veteran players,” said Vemulapalli.

Recently the NBA has indicated that they prepare to lower the age restriction back to its original age limit of 18. This would be done by the 2023-2024 season if it were to happen.