Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first upset of the March Madness season. And the real tournament hasn't even started yet. Last night the Kentucky Wildcats, who did not make this year's NCAA tournament a year removed from winning the National Championship, lost by two points to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. This is the first time since the tournament expanded in 1985 that a team won the National Championship one year and then lost in the first round of the NIT the very next year. How does something like this happen?
If you ask me, the NBA is to blame for this, namely the LeBron James' of the Association. Ever since LeBron made the jump from high school to the NBA (yes, there were others before him like Kobe and Kevin Garnett, but James has popularized the choice), every kid who excels in high school thinks he's going to be the next LeBron and goes to the NBA as soon as he is eligible. To their credit, the NBA has made an attempt to do something to rectify the situation, now requiring that players be at least one year removed from graduation before entering the NBA Draft. While their heart seems to have been in the right place, this has made the college game a one-year free-for-all every season. John Calipari recruited a phenomenal team last year. They ran through the regular season, their conference tournament, and cut down the nets at the end of the season. What was his reward? His top six players declared for the NBA draft and he was forced to recruit an entirely new team with the hopes of repeating last year's success. He again recruited a top-flight class, but with the injury of Nerlens Noel coupled with the strain of having to mesh together entirely new pieces, the Wildcats failed to live up to expectations. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So what can be done to improve the college game and make sure something like this doesn't happen again? I say that the NBA should adopt the rule that the NFL has established. In the NFL, a player must be three years removed from his high school graduation before he is eligible to enter the NFL draft. This ensures that both the college game and the NFL are putting out the best products that they possibly can. Are there players in college that are ready for the NFL after only one or two years? Certainly there are, but there are FAR more players who think they are, but aren't. Those players would get drafted on their promise, never living up to it and the game would suffer. This is what happens in the NBA today. All these kids enter the draft, not ready for the grind and physicality of the pro game, they get sent do the D-league, and rarely live up to what their potential said they could be. Had they been forced to stay in school for a year or two more, they could have developed their game, worked on their conditioning, and EVERYONE would be better off in the long run.
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.