Kentucky’s roster was in shreds when the college basketball season ended. Players with eligibility remaining almost immediately declared their intention for the NBA draft and one of college basketball’s elite programs had to restock on the fly.
Georgia Tech, too, has had to deal with an unsettled roster in the past because it recruits and signs elite players who are NBA-caliber.
Paul Hewitt, the Yellow Jackets coach, said the NBA and the NBA Players Association would do everybody a favor -- the players, the college coaches, the NBA coaches -- if it instituted a rule similar to Major League Baseball.
And that is: Players are eligible to be drafted right out of high school. If they go to college, they must stay three years. They can go to junior college, stay a year and then become draft-eligible.
“That would be the perfect situation,” Hewitt said. “If a young man does not want to go to college, nobody should make him. I think if you polled college basketball coaches, 75 percent, in my opinion, would say the same thing.
“I think you are better off going to college. For their stability and their education and for the stability of the program, it would be a positive thing to stay three years.”
The other issue to consider, Hewitt said, is the immense pressure on the college player in his first year. Suppose he has dreams for the NBA and wants to get there quickly.
What if he goes into a slump or opponents lean on him defensively and take down his draft stock?
“Every game becomes a referendum on his draft status and his stock,” Hewitt said. “You hear stories about kids running back to the dorm room and looking on NBAdraft.com or one of those websites to see where they are being drafted after each game. It’s a lot of pressure that one year.
“Kids are in such a hurry to get to the NBA or they are being advised to get there in a hurry, they forget about being ready. It’s one thing to be drafted. It’s a whole other thing to keep the job once you get there.”
Hewitt is not sure the junior college option is viable enough for the elite high school player, even though the player might get to the NBA quicker the juco route.
“It is up to the young man and his family, if the route they want to go is to junior college, and that’s fine,” Hewitt said. “My guess is they would not get the level of training and competition that would allow them to bring their skills up to a higher level so they can be successful in the pros.”