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Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: April 4, 11:58 AM ET
David Stern wants change to age rule

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- David Stern would love a system in which Anthony Davis and the rest of Kentucky's freshman stars were required to try to repeat.

Instead, the NBA commissioner could end up calling Davis' name in June as the first pick in the draft.

Stern Our rule is that they won't be eligible for the draft until they're 19. They can play in Europe, they can play in the D-League, they can go to college. This is a not a social program, this is a business rule for us. The NFL has a rule which requires three years of college. So the focus is often on ours, but it's really not what we require in college.

-- David Stern

The league wasn't able to change its draft eligibility rules during collective bargaining last year. The rules require an American player to be 19 years old and a year out of high school.

"We would love to add a year, but that's not something that the players' association has been willing to agree to," Stern said Tuesday.

The union would only agree to form a committee to discuss changes, and Stern knows the players are unlikely to consent to an increase without some concession from owners.

"They would probably say, 'What would you give us?' " he said.

Stern spoke at a Sprint store to announce the opening of the NBA's "Green Week." The wireless company is the presenting partner of the week, during which time the league tries to generate awareness and funding to protect the environment. Players will wear shooting shirts made of 100 percent organic cotton, along with green headbands and wrist bands during games through April 11.

Stern watched some of Kentucky's 67-59 victory over Kansas in the NCAA championship game Monday, when the Wildcats' group of future NBA players raced to an 18-point lead in the first half.

"I think it was over a little early," Stern said.

So will most of the Wildcats' college careers.

Davis, the player of the year and Final Four's most outstanding player, would likely be the No. 1 pick if he comes out, and fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could be right behind him. Players must declare this month if they are making themselves eligible for the draft.

The age limit was instituted in 2005, and Stern has often spoken since of his desire to increase it. But any realistic hope of pushing too hard during the lockout was scrapped when the league focused instead on the financial changes it sought.

If Davis is the top pick, he would be the fifth freshman in six years to go No. 1, following Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Kyrie Irving. Stern said the league's draft requirement is often misreported as forcing players to spend a year in college.

"That's not our rule," he said. "Our rule is that they won't be eligible for the draft until they're 19. They can play in Europe, they can play in the D-League, they can go to college. This is a not a social program, this is a business rule for us. The NFL has a rule which requires three years of college. So the focus is often on ours, but it's really not what we require in college. It's that we say we would like a year to look at them and I think it's been interesting to see how the players do against first-class competition in the NCAAs and then teams have the ability to judge and make judgments, because high-ranking draft picks are very, very valuable."

The committee is just starting, so far only staff discussions that haven't yet included players and owners. Stern said he expects the NCAA to join as well.

For now, he's pleased with the impact the draft rule has had.

"We're very happy to have improved from having our scouts all over the high school gymnasium," he said. "That was an important policy part of what we did as well, so we'll see what we can do. They have some ideas, we have some ideas, I'm sure the NCAA has some ideas."