2014 NBA Draft – Full of One and Dones?

Why are So Many NCAA Stars Eager to Give Up on a Degree?


Courtesy MCT Campus Service

Joel Embiid at the press conference declaring for the NBA draft.

Glen Wheelock, Sports Editor

The NBA draft (coming up June 26th) rules states all players must be 19 years old during the calendar year of that years NBA draft. The player must be at least one year removed from high school graduation or have signed a contract with any professional basketball team in the world. International players fall under separate rules due to different schooling systems. Now that players are no longer allowed to go straight from High School to the NBA, most of the highest prospects become “one and dones.” A “one and done” is a player that plays one season in the NCAA and then immediately leaves for the NBA. Seven of the top fifteen prospects this year are freshman and they have all declared for the draft.

Tyler Ennis, Joel Embiid, Noah Vonleh, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle , Jabari Parker, and Aaron Gordon have all officially left the NCAA for the pros.They all lived up to expectations and some more than others. They showed real promise when it came to possibly being a star on the next level. But is that enough to call it quits after only one season? They are sacrificing so much that has already been given to them solely because of their basketball talents. Scouts have a tough time rating freshman because they have so little film on them its hard to see what they are really capable of, plus its difficult to judge how they do when up against higher caliber players when they play only one season.

On the athletic side of things, they are guaranteed a spot on a roster for three more years and with that they have the entire coaching staff, all the trainers, and all the facilities that school offers to make themselves even better.When they enter the draft, yes they may be a high draft prospect and are more likely than not to be picked up and signed by a team. But they have no idea on which exact team is going to take them and they have no idea how they’re going to use them. They could be drafted by a team that doesn’t exactly need them right now but may in three years when that spot on the roster opens up. Now instead of getting better and becoming used to be in a starting line up they’ve spent the last three years being someones back up and getting very little attention.

On the education side of things, a recurring problem in professional sports is players thinking they’ve struck it rich and are set for life.  When you give a man of such a young age m that kind of money, he’s most likely not prepared for that.  He spends is on luxury items, invests poorly, gambles, gives money to his family and friends and before he knows it, he’s broke. In 2009, Sports Illustrated conducted a study that showed that 60% of NBA players are broke within five years  of leaving the league. “Broke” is either having massive debts that their contract earnings can not pay off, or filing for bankruptcy. The average career life of an NBA player is 5 years, and when you enter the NBA the standard rookie contract you is under two years with a two year team option. So potentially they’re stuck in a four-year deal with no negotiation. And by the time they can ask for a new deal their career could already be over.

The problem with freshman leaving school after one year is that they have no back up plan for when they get out of the league.You can’t play basketball forever. And if they’re lucky to play until they’re thirty, they still have another thirty years until they will probably retire. So for those thirty years they need to make a living. And now that they left school they are stuck without a degree. Yes they can go back and earn one, but they have to foot the entire bill, as opposed to when they played in the NCAA their entire education was paid for and they had the opportunity to get a good job after sports.

Believe it or not, playing professional sports does not usually mean you’ll never need to work for money when you’re done. The NBA will still be there in three years and now so will a degree. These freshmen are anxious to live their dream, but forget to think about life after their dream. When players such as Allen Iverson ($160 million) and Shawn Kemp ($90 million) had long careers with multiple big deal contracts were still able to go “broke” so easily, a kid that doesn’t become a household name can end up on that list even faster.