New NBA commissioner Adam Silver made raising the NBA draft age limit from 19 to 20 his highest priority at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. While Kansas-bound Cliff Alexander suggested he may stay in school for two years anyway, the potential rule change would have serious ramifications on the future earning power of elite high school basketball recruits.
The McDonald's All-Americans —who played a 105-102 thriller on Wednesday — had to see the question coming, and ultimately the Big Lead's Ryan Glasspiegel asked it. Many of the nation's best prep basketball players responded with roundabout answers wiser than their years, but at least one didn't.
“I’ve heard about it, and I just hope it doesn’t happen for our class and some of the players who could do just one year," said UNLV-bound Rashad Vaughn. "Hopefully it doesn’t pass for a long time.”
The argument for allowing the one-and-done college player to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft at age 19 is rather simple. In fact, it's a rationale that could also be applied to 18-year-old high school seniors. If someone like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett believes he's prepared for the rigors of an 82-game schedule and an NBA team is willing to employ him, why stand in their way?
As Myles Turner — the only undecided recruit left among Rivals.com's top 10 — explained to the Big Lead, “My personal opinion is that players should go only when they’re ready. If they are, they should go one-and-done, and shouldn’t wait, but I see what Mr. Silver is trying to do with that aspect. I can’t necessarily see it affecting me right at this point, but if I were ready to go, and I had to be held back, I feel like it’d be a disadvantage. At the same time, I don’t have anything negative to say about it.”
The argument against teenagers in the NBA is more subtle. In essence, Silver believes the experience a young player would gain in two seasons at the college level, in the D-League or overseas would improve the quality of the game at all levels while better preparing them for the rigors of an 82-game schedule.
Interestingly, Arizona-bound forward Stanley Johnson offered some rather remarkable insight on the matter. Silver might think about asking Johnson to consult with NBA front office officials like Michael Jordan, who drafted Kwame Brown No. 1 out of high school in 2001 as president of the Wizards.
“Honestly, if you’re a pro, you’re a pro," Johnson told Glasspiegel. "As long as I get there, it doesn’t matter. I can do two years of college — I can do four years of college! — I’m going to a great university. I think it affects people who aren’t as good, who are just trying to capitalize on potential — what they could be — more. The players who are steady with their work habits and steady with their play will be just fine."
Others skirted the issue, claiming it's something that hasn't yet crossed their minds. And maybe that's the best approach. After all, Jalen Rose, who broadcast the McDonald's All-American Game for ESPN, placed the odds of Silver's proposal affecting this class at 5-to-1, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"That is something the players union is going to stand fast that the rule is going to stay where it is," said Rose, who stayed at Michigan for three seasons. "You've got one-and-dones like Kevin Durant, like Carmelo Anthony. These guys are superstar-caliber players, so you can't say it doesn't work.
"As we know, it would have to be collectively bargained. So even though that's what he wants, that doesn't necessarily mean that's what going to happen."