Fixing NBA prospects and NCAA men's basketball
With the NCAA tournament wrapping up this weekend, I can’t help but reminisce about the mid-late 2000’s, when the 1 and done wasn’t as prominent and you could be emotionally invested in your team’s players for more than one season. The back-to-back Florida Gator championship teams and Psycho T’s Tar Heels both come to mind. Nowadays, most of the first round is underclassmen, and so many of them are underdeveloped and set up for failure in the NBA. A way (that is definitely not as simple as just writing a blog about it) to both improve the quality of NCAA basketball and increase the development of prospects - let drafted players return to school.
The NHL has always had this model, with drafted prospects who aren’t quite ready for the pros returning to their CHL teams until their junior eligibility runs out. Of course, CHL players receive payment which makes it easier from amateur-ism conversation, but there are workarounds. You could have prospects wait to sign their NBA deals until they get to the league. You could put signing bonus is untouchable bank accounts. You could stop exploiting the athletes and give them the money because they’re the ones who earned it anyways (this option is preferred).
A similar model would allow players who would most likely spend the year in the G League to go back to school, where they would continue to develop, gain confidence, get marketed, and continue their education. As much as the NBA wants the G League to accomplish this, without the big TV contract that the NCAA has, this will be tough - especially the marketability standpoint. As for why that is important, it allows fans of NBA teams to watch their prospects develop on a bigger stage and become more emotionally connected with them. This leads to increased fan support and increased revenue once that player graduates to the pros.
It looks like the one and done rule will soon be gone, and while they’re adjusting the draft rules, maybe it’s time to entertain this one too. Thanks for reading.