In coming years March Madness may be even crazier than it is now, but not because of some ridiculous tournament expansion. Instead, there may be more NBA-caliber players competing in the Big Dance. The issue of increasing the age limit in the NBA to 20-years old has recently been brought up again. Doing so would effectively put an end to the one-and-done environment in college basketball.
Under the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement, players have to be at least 19 years of age and one year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA draft. But it’s not often they stick around for longer than they are required, which is why so many stud freshman leave college basketball after just one year.
The current system does seem to be working smoothly. NBA stars Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, and Carmelo Anthony are all products of the one-and-done tradition. That’s why many people are opposed to raising the age limit, claiming it is not in the best interest of college players.
The most outspoken disagreements have come from NBA agents. Many aren’t happy with the fact that it would further limit college players to pursue their professional careers. Their argument is that it is not beneficial for those players to remain in college an extra year if they have the capability and desire to enter the NBA.
The argument in favor of upping the age requirement to 20 years old was best laid out by former NBA player Steve Kerr, in an article he wrote for Grantland in 2012. Kerr drew from his experience as both a player and coach to come up with several reasons a higher age limit would benefit both the NBA and future NBA players.
Kerr claimed that players would benefit from the change because they’d have more time to develop, as well as receive more effective mentoring from college coaches; in turn a better understanding of how to play in a team environment. Kerr also argued that NBA coaches and scouts would have more time to closely watch player development, only contributing to the NCAA’s built-in NBA marketing.
Kerr’s points are the foundation of the argument used by those who support the higher age requirement. One year may not seem like a big deal, but it means a lot in the world of sports. If NBA draft prospects are required to be at least 20 years old, both the NBA and college basketball may see changes in game-play. College clubs could see greater continuity in team composition, and the NBA won’t be forced into difficult decisions to make room for young talent coming off of one year of college basketball.
After the lockout of 2011, the new CBA did not change any of the previous draft rules but did call for the NBA’s player’s union to discuss issues regarding the drafting process. The only reason the age-limit is still being discussed is because the union has not had an executive director since the dismissal of Billy Hunter in February of last year.
Until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has a players’ union director to negotiate with, no decisions about a new age requirement will be made.
by MATT SIMONS / contributing writer