What exactly is the issue here?
Schools win. Coaches win. Fans win. And, most important, the players win.
While much is made of Thursday's NBA Draft turning the league's age limit into a mockery of the college game, it is difficult to ascertain exactly who the losers are.
It is possible that the first six selections will be players leaving school after a single year, making this the year of the one-and-done.
To some, it is an abuse of higher education.
But if a player can graduate to the next level in such a short period, then perhaps that higher education is producing the fast track.
When the NBA instituted its requirement in 2006 that a draft-eligible player be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class, the initial argument was that it was restraint of trade. Labor law, however, speaks otherwise, provided the arrangement is collectively bargained.
What the rule has done is allow players to see if they could excel at least at the collegiate level.
If they can, fine. We're only talking one year, often a beneficial year. And, so, Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless and Eric Gordon move forward this week.
But what the restriction does is expose others to the alternative that if they can't rise to the top of the college game, perhaps the college experience could be utilized for greater personal gain, allow them to have, dare we say it, their Tyler Hansbrough years.
Perhaps if previous preps-to-pros failures Taj McDavid, Korleone Young, DeAngelo Collin and Lenny Cooke had been shown early enough that their NBA dreams were mere pipe dreams, there at least might have been collegiate glory. Even celebrated Sebastian Telfair would have benefited from a college go-round.
Yes, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett thrived in the preps-to-pros transition, but it's not as if a year on campus would have stunted that growth.
As for those who claim college programs suffer, having to constantly replenish their talent, tell that to the University of Memphis after the school's wild ride to the NCAA championship game. Or tell that to Kansas State, where Manhattan, for at least one year, was more than just the Little Apple.
A little Rose and Beasley is better than no Rose or Beasley at all.
And the coaches who grouse? Those are the coaches who aren't getting the elite one-and-dones, anyway.
Think Jim Boeheim regrets having had Carmelo Anthony for only a single season? A case could be made that Boeheim wouldn't even be Syracuse coach today without that 'Melo-made 2003 NCAA title.
From a fan's perspective, there is plenty to be said about providing an NCAA resume before the NBA Draft. The draft certainly would have been far more heartening in Los Angeles, Orlando and Boston had fans known who Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard and Al Jefferson actually were.
To some, a longer commitment would strengthen the process, perhaps two years, with such a push already advanced by Commissioner David Stern.
Yet with the current rule in place for its third year, a reasonable test sample is in place. Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, even the Heat's Daequan Cook had their moments last season after a single college season.
What matters most are those most affected.
"I'm so happy that they made that rule," Rose said. "I matured a lot when I went to Memphis. I'd be on the bench or probably in the D-League or something if I hadn't gone to college."
"I got to mature a little," Beasley said, "live on my own. On the court, I got stronger, got the mental side of things down. I'm real satisfied with my experience. I always wanted to go to college."
That's not to say that Rose and Beasley wouldn't have otherwise made the jump, if allowed, to All-Rookie seasons.But it's difficult to find a loser in the current process, as maligned as it may be.
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