NCAA & NBA: Age Is Only A Number

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As LeBron James moved ahead of Michael Jordan on the league’s points leaders list the obvious became very apparent.  Not just the sense of knowing the ever allegiant Jordan fans were ready to pounce with the “6 rings, 6 Finals MVP” mantra they keep at the ready on the chance anyone dare ask for the real GOAT to please stand up.  Much more profound than that was the knowledge of having witnessed greatness take two very different paths yet meet up in the same place!

No time like March Madness to address the elephant in the room….should the NBA lower its draft eligibility requirement to 18 years of age?  The answer is a resounding YES! It would be mind boggling as to why this conundrum still remains if the age old adage “follow the money” wasn’t our guiding light. 

In most scenarios, college athletic programs have their slices of bread buttered by the football and basketball programs.  Due to the pure physicality of the sport, student athletes going from a high school gridiron to a professional version is a nonfactor.

For basketball players though, the freedom to choose right or left at the fork in the road should be left completely up to the high school player and his parents not a set of rules pigeonholing his options. Whether or not his skillset translates to the next level should be placed in a “remains to be seen” category.  If he opts for the professional ranks vs a college campus, the expectations of the league will dictate whether he should have chosen what was behind Door A versus Door B. 

Things have a way of coming out in the wash.  There’s really no reason why lowering the age for NBA entry would be any different.  The notion Trae Young would have been able to go from Norman North High School to Atlanta, Georgia without the development course received at the University of Oklahoma is rather farfetched.  On the flip side, one can see with their eyes closed, Zion Williamson could have walked across Spartanburg Day School’s graduation stage directly to the league without stopping at Duke University. 

Major League Baseball probably gets a hearty chuckle out of the NBA’s fuss. Although a commitment was in place to play for East Carolina University, Mike Trout took his talents to the farm system of the Angels instead.  Freedom of choice not only impacted his career trajectory but the entire sport as his power hitting and outstanding defense has now netted him a contract for the record books.

Cue Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” because in the end that is exactly what collegiate basketball will do!  Speaking of...there are a few games in need of my undivided attention.  It’s a bracket thing, you understand!  

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