The “one-and-done” rule was created to eliminate multiple problems in the NBA. It is an NBA rule, in fact, initiated by then commissioner David Stern in 2005. The rule states that players must be out of high school for one year and be at least 19 years of age at the time of the draft.
The primary issues that were to be solved by this new rule were the NBA’s inability to support 18 year old athletes making millions of dollars straight out of high school and the fact that NBA scouts were spending a significant amount of time in high school gymnasiums.
According to Brian Windhorst over at ESPN, commissioner Adam Silver is pushing to change the rule, creating more pathways for young basketball players to prepare for a professional career.
With scandals rocking youth & college basketball, the NBA is quietly getting ready to step in and get involved with elite high school players again: https://t.co/xpWbCG9VHv— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) March 5, 2018
While a change to this rule has been on the table for some time, the recent FBI scandal involving college and high school players had added some urgency to the matter.
Silver has been holding listening sessions from a variety of groups that have significant interest in this issue, and a number of proposals are on the table.
There have been discussions of creating basketball academies, like those that exist internationally, an idea championed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Some have proposed that the NBA provide advisers to support talented youngsters on doing the right things to prepare for the league. These advisers would provide financial literacy counseling, nutritional support, training advice, and education on general life skills.
The idea that seems to be gaining the most traction at this point is rethinking the G-League. Perhaps there is a way to incorporate those same advisers into the league, provide more individualized support, and even begin working with players while they are still in high school.
One issue is that the current maximum salary for the G-League is $26,000 per year. Highly touted recruits have made as much as $1 million internationally during the gap year between high school and the NBA, so how could the G-League compete with that?
Sponsorship could be a strong element of this change, allowing young stars to profit financially while also getting the developmental support of the G-League.
“We’ve talked a lot about youth development in terms of whether we should be getting involved in some of these young players even earlier than when they come into college,” Silver said. “And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA. On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger?”
Obviously, the NCAA would have to completely restructure its amateurism policies. Mark Emmert and company claim to be doing so already, but if the NBA is regularly approaching high school players with sponsors in hand and professional advisers on speed-dial then the entire system will have to be blown up.
Silver indicates that no decision will be made before the Commission on College Basketball publishes its report in the coming months, which will likely include proposals for “cleaning up” the college game.
However, Silver has no intention of waiting until the next collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association in 2024 to make a change.
“We realize that the whole issue of the one-and-done is that we don’t operate in isolation, and where we choose to set with our players’ association, the minimum age has a direct impact on college basketball as well,” Silver said. “We’re not by any means rushing through this. I think this is a case where, actually, outside of the cycle of collective bargaining, we can spend more time on it with the players’ association, talking to the individual players, talking to the executive board and really trying to understand the pros and cons of potentially moving the age limit.”
If the age limit is removed, which seems inevitable at this point, how should college basketball change its policies to still attract top talent to the college game?