NEWS

Gone in 60 seconds

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere

If you were watching the two huge college basketball matchups last Tuesday night, you saw a crop of true freshmen sensations put on an absolute show.

You immediately saw why they were considered the top recruits in the country as they went up and down the court flaunting their potential. And by the end of the night, it was clear that, freshman or not, they were the nation's best.

Well, college basketball fans, I hope you enjoyed it because by this time next year, they'll all be gone. They'll all be off to the NBA while we try to get to know another group of youngsters that will be one-and-done.

It's just the nature of the beast. It's what the college game has become with the NBA mandating that you have to be one year removed from high school graduation to be eligible for the draft.

So, players are basically rented out by college coaches for a year, and then they're long gone.

Look at the two huge matchups from last week. For Kentucky, they had three guys that are future lottery picks in Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison and James Young.

Randle alone put up 27 points and 13 rebounds in the Cats' 78-74 loss to No. 2 Michigan State.

For Kansas, they have the No. 1 recruit in the country in Andrew Wiggins and two other stars in Wayne Selden Jr. and Joel Embiid. Wiggins led the Jayhawks with 22 as they beat Duke 94-83.

But he was outdone by Blue Devil freshman phenom Jabari Parker as he poured in 27.

It was a great show these guys put on, and they'll continue to do so all season, but it's all just a big tease. I'm almost 100 percent sure that every single name I've listed above will be in the NBA next year.

That's not their fault. They're NBA-ready right now. They're only spending this one year in college because that's what the draft rules have forced them to do.

Well, it's time for those rules to change. The way it's set up now, it may be beneficial to the NBA, but it's crippling college basketball.

I would like to see the league go to a system similar to what Major League Baseball employs.

In that system, players can enter the draft straight out of high school. However, if they do choose to enroll at a university, they must stay there at least three years before bolting for the draft.

To me, this is a very beneficial system for both the NBA and college basketball.

Let's face it, this isn't football where you have to be a full-grown man to survive; this is basketball. Some guys are just extraordinary talents that can fit right in and wreak havoc in the league straight out of high school--players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard and so on.

Well, this baseball system would allow top-flight players like those to instantly jump to the league and cash in and not have to worry about risking injuries with a year of college basketball.

Meanwhile, players that aren't quite ready to be pros, can go to school and have multiple years to hone their skills and mature.

That would pay dividends for the college game because it would give the sport some desperately-needed continuity with players making three and four-year commitments.

That helps build programs. You can't do that when two and three of your best players are out the door after just one and two years of playing.

Along those same lines, it would be great for the fans because we'd get at least three whole years to watch the sport's best.

And when it comes to the whole student-athlete component, there is no comparison.

With the system's current state, academics are a complete joke for these super freshmen.

They know from the start they're only going to be there one year, so they're going to take the easiest classes they can possibly take and do just enough to keep them eligible through the season.

Heck, when that season comes to a close in late March or early April, they can completely stop going to class and skip finals knowing they're about to get drafted and make millions of dollars come June.

All in all, this pipe dream of mine will most likely never come into fruition. So, my advice to college basketball fans, enjoy these amazing talents while you can because they'll be gone in 60 seconds.