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NBA's 19-year-old minimum a nonsolution


June 22, 2005
Can somebody please explain to me the benefit of the new age minimum of 19 for the NBA draft? It's nothing more than a way for the league to fix an image problem.

Wow, the NBA now can say the league isn't drafting players until one year after their high school class graduates ... come on, give me a break! The bottom line is that many young players still will be jumping to the NBA when they aren't ready to play. There is damage done to the NBA, to the college game and to the players themselves.

I find it mind-boggling that the people in charge of the NBA and NCAA can't come up with a logical system that benefits everyone.
Take a look at some of the kids who have made the mistake of coming out early. Do you think by going to age 19 that this trend is going to go away totally? Kids will continue to leave college early, and in many cases will sit on the NBA pine when they could have used another season in school to better themselves.

I find it mind-boggling that the people in charge of the NBA and NCAA can't come up with a logical system that benefits everyone. There should be a way for a phenom like LeBron James (and potentially a Greg Oden) to get a chance to play at the NBA level when he's ready.

Something has to be done to start caring about kids. The number of youngsters who threw their names into the NBA draft hat this season was a joke. Some underclassmen who will be drafted on potential next week didn't dominate on the college level. Some struggled to get playing time, like Randolph Morris of Kentucky, who couldn't average double figures in college. Yet he stays in the draft because he apparently got an NBA guarantee because of his size and potential.

Morris could be relegated to the bench like Ndudi Ebi. Wouldn't Ebi have been better off playing at Arizona this past season instead of barely seeing any time in the pros? Ebi would have been a much more complete player if he had gained experience under coach Lute Olson.

Think about a kid like Shavlik Randolph, who had a tough time getting on the floor at Duke. When he did, there were concerns about injuries. He never lived up to his billing coming out of high school, and he certainly isn't ready for the NBA.

Kids give up a chance to be part of a national championship contender for a shot at the pros, albeit prematurely. It just blows my mind.

We need some sanity. College helps you mature as a person. Staying in school allows you to be a kid and not deal with the day-to-day pressure of pro basketball until you become better-prepared.

With the addition of the NBA's 19-year-old age minimum, I don't see a major change from the current state of the game. Big deal – it will look good that the NBA isn't taking kids straight out of the high school ranks. Now, though, more high schoolers might enroll in prep schools for a postgraduate year before joining the pros.

The NBA is all about ego, ego, ego. Some kids who stayed in the draft don't get it. They aren't ready, and it's really sad. Just look at the product we see on the court today; it isn't what it used to be.

On a side note, I don't think people understand the current rule that could allow, for example, high school phenom Andrew Bynum to still go to Connecticut and Amir Johnson to go to Louisville ... even though they both stayed in the draft.

High school players who don't sign with an agent can still play college basketball even if they're drafted. That's right, Bynum and Johnson could still end up in college.

So if you read that Bynum isn't going to UConn, that isn't necessarily the case quite yet. If Bynum is unhappy with the team that picks him or where he falls in the first round (or even to the second round), he could still play for coach Jim Calhoun next season. At least he still has that option.

However, a college kid who stays in the draft loses his eligibility – it is that simple.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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