ORLANDO, Fla. The one-and-done parade comes to Orlando this week for the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp, with basketball prodigies Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose serving as co-grand marshals.
They are the future of professional hoops, they are proof of capitalism's coolest quirks.
And they are examples of the worst rule in college sports.
The NBA's age limit, which forces most of its prospects to attend a year of college rather than leaping straight from high school to the pros, has made college basketball careers quicker than NASCAR pit stops. Drop 35 points on Baylor, pose for a magazine photo shoot, play a couple of NCAA tournament games, and see ya. Where have you gone, Grant Hill?
"It's not a healthy rule," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It's not a good rule for college basketball."
And Donovan, for once, is right on so many levels. Coaches must gamble in recruiting, certain that some players will bail after a season, wary that others less qualified might follow anyway. Programs suffer how can a team build chemistry when the team can't stay together for an academic year?
And the big shots themselves rarely develop anything more than a couple feet on their jump shot and a couple of buddies for their entourage. The prospective agents who have hounded these kids since middle school? They will be around, too, with schools more likely to face sanctions for the agents' actions than the players.
Worst, of course, is the academic component. Bob Knight said in Sarasota the other night that if a player passes six credit hours in the fall semester of his freshman year (Read: two classes), he is eligible until the end of the spring.
That means a guy such as Rose or Beasley could enroll in school but not attend class during the spring, yet still play in every game through the postseason. Being academically ineligible doesn't matter in the NBA.
The answer to this dilemma is so simple even the baseball guys figured it out (and the football coaches are on the right track). If a basketball player wants to skip college and enter the NBA Draft, let him go. If he chooses to go to college, he loses the right to enter the draft for the next three years.
Under such a rule, Beasley and Rose and their crew would be between years one and two in the NBA or locked into a three-year college career or stuck in some sort of hoops purgatory.
It's time for the NCAA and the NBA Players Association to change the system. It might not please every player, but it beats having the worst rule in college sports taint your game.