High School Basketball Players Skipping NCAA Basketball is the Only Way to Save NCAA Basketball

Brian Giuffra
Jalen Green dunk.
Jalen Green dunk. / Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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Today, we saw two of the top high school basketball recruits in the class of 2020 opt to skip college and head straight to the pros. ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the nation, Jalen Green, and No. 13, Isaiah Todd, both decided to take advantage of the new rule allowing elite 18-year-old prospects to join the NBA G League instead of heading to college.

This follows the paths of LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, two of the top 2020 NBA Draft prospects, to play overseas this past season instead of playing in college.

Guess what? That's the best thing for college basketball.

Since the NBA instituted a rule in 2006 requiring players to be one year removed from high school before entering the draft, the aptly-nicknamed "one-and-done" rule, college basketball has lost its identity. The ultimate team sport has transformed into an individualistic game where the superstars are praised and highlighted on television. while the teams that actually grow together and eventually win don't get nearly as much attention until the media has no choice but to acknowledge them.

Let's take the 2018-2019 season as an example. Zion Williamson was all the talk of college basketball and more people tuned in to watch him. Hell, Barack Obama went to see him play. Then, when he got hurt, it was national news for weeks. What happened to his shoe? Can Duke recover? Will he play again? That's all anyone wanted to talk about.

Meanwhile, veteran-led teams like Virginia, Michigan State, North Carolina, Texas Tech and Gonzaga were having outstanding seasons and no one seemed to care.

Looking back at the great teams in college basketball, the ones pundits praise and debate whether it was the best team ever, all of them featured veteran players who developed chemistry over the years and then won it all together. Sure, there are individual stars on those teams, but what made them great, and what was discussed and written about during the season, was the team. The one exception was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, but those two always were the exception.

That's what the NBA is for, not college basketball.

The NBA shouldn't deny these kids an opportunity to make money if teams deem them talented enough to jump to the pros straight out of high school and college basketball shouldn't deny what its greatest strength is. Like the 1960 and 70s UCLA Bruins, the 1980s Indiana Hoosiers, the 1990s Duke Blue Devils and even the 2000s Florida Gators, it's not about the individual in college, it's about the team.

Ultimately, having these talented young players skip college basketball and go straight to the pros will eliminate the one-and-done rule and help college basketball reclaim the magic it built under the watchful eye of John Wooden. Outsiders and capitalists might look at the game, and specifically as these individual players, as a cash cow with the opportunity to suck it for every cent they can, but that's not what college basketball should be. Thanks to these kids skipping it, college basketball will be better off.

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