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Westhem: One-and-done rule hurting college basketball

To enter the NBA draft, you have to be 19 years old and at least a year out of high school. This “one-and-done” rule, which was established by the NBA in 2005, was meant to benefit both the NBA and players simultaneously; however, it has ended up to be in the interest of the league and detrimental to the players and college teams in some instances.

So far, at least eight freshman have chosen to forgo their remaining three years of NCAA eligibility and have declared for the 2014 NBA draft, including the league’s potential No. 1 draft pick in Jabari Parker of Duke, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon.

The one-and-done rule creates a set of challenges for the team depth-wise and for the players down the line who only plan on going to school for one year and then have no degree to fall back on or who are ready for the NBA right out of college and are wasting their time with the one-year gap between being drafted.

I almost want to say it should be all or nothing. Go back to how the NBA was by allowing players to come straight from high school or make them get a degree, finish out their years of eligibility with their team and then go to the NBA.

In the NBA, there isn’t much concept of team loyalty for players that have been traded around or have the prospect to be, but college ball is all about the culture surrounding the team and the camaraderie and concept of working together — something that can’t just be learned in one season — and that’s an important part of a player’s development. The college game teaches players about learning to commit to a team, trusting your teammates and playing within a larger framework. When players leave after just one year, they miss out on the opportunity to develop and grow as people and players.

Those players could also be affecting the team dynamics and culture surrounding the program by leaving at any moment after freshman year. So much for recruiting. How can coaches feel good about having the top recruit in the nation when he has the opportunity to ditch his college team in favor of professional basketball after just a year? Schools like Kentucky (which had four freshmen declare for the draft in 2010) have become “one-year pro factories,” as described in an article by Bleacher Report. They make a mockery of the integrity and spirit of the college game and recruitment process.

For example, UCLA is in the precarious position of potentially not having any guards next season, let alone a point guard. LA Times columnist Chris Foster said that if sophomore Jordan Adams and junior Norman Powell join the draft (which is not confirmed yet), in addition to freshman Zach LaVine and sophomore Kyle Anderson (who have already declared), head coach Steve Alford may “need to hang a ‘guards wanted; inquire within’ sign in front of Pauley Pavilion.”

A highly touted high school point guard, Aaron Holiday, is coming to the Bruins’ rescue, but not for another year. And if he’s as good of a recruit as he’s advertised to be, then he too might leave after his freshman year.

Obviously players might want to make money to support themselves or their families through NBA contracts by leaving after freshman years, but players are so young when they make that decision that all consequences might not be considered and regrets may linger in the long run.

I think the NFL at least has the right idea in forcing players to attend three years of college in order to declare for the NFL Draft. At that point, the athlete is older and mature enough to make a life-changing decision but is also enmeshed enough in the college experience to possibly consider just waiting the one year to help his team the next season and finish up his degree. It offers a greater incentive to stay the extra year instead of gritting his teeth and getting through his freshman season, knowing that he is going to declare for the draft at the end of the season anyways.

The NBA might have had good intentions with changing to the one-and-done format, but in practice it doesn’t pan out well for the coaches who are left high and dry without the players they recruited and counted on, for the teammates who are left with a depleted roster and for the athlete who is making the decision to forego college at an age when any repercussions or drawbacks seem inconsequential.

Change it back to straight out of high school, change it to all four years in college before the draft or follow the example of the NFL, but the NBA needs to at least consider getting rid of the one-and-done format. It does no service to anyone but the NBA, making them feel confident that tried and true athletes are in each draft, instead of untested players right out of high school.

Ashley Westhem seriously contemplated forgoing her final two years at The Daily to join Bleacher Report. To tell her why she made the right decision to stay in school, contact her at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tweet her @ashwest16.

About Ashley Westhem

Ashley Westhem is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team. She has been a desk editor for three volumes and plans to take over as Managing Editor of Sports next volume and aid in KZSU’s coverage of football. She is an American Studies major from Lake Tahoe, Calif., and aspires to work in sports administration, to positively affect the lives of student-athletes and the relationship between the athletic and academic spheres of universities.