Why high school athletes should be able to go straight to the NBA

In the basketball world, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of athletes going pro straight out of high school. The current rule to enter the NBA draft is that you need to be 19 years old and one year out of high school. This was not the case until the rule was created in 2005. If athletes are physically ready to go pro and mature enough to handle the spotlight, then it should be up to them to decide what their future holds. 

For many of the highly recruited players, they will only spend one year out of high school before entering the draft. This is known as the one-and-done rule. Their goal is to get to the NBA and they are looking for the most productive way to get there. The typical route is to attend college for one year and then declare for the draft. This route however is becoming less common for the highly rated athletes who are either going overseas to play or playing in the NBA G league. These alternatives are becoming more common because they replicate the NBA game more than playing in college would. The college game is taking a hit by not getting every star player that it used to get year in and year out. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some people may say that these high school kids are not mature enough to play in the NBA at such a young age but one year will not make much of a difference or not any difference at all. Also, the college game is much different than the NBA. There have been some great college players who have turned out to be busts in the NBA. The quicker these players can get to the league then more experience they will get.

One of the main problems about not allowing an athlete to go straight to the pros after high school is the risk of injury. If a player were to get an injury during that year before they are eligible, their draft stock could be heavily impacted in a negative way and could have a long-lasting impact on their whole career. Take Kevin Ware for example. Ware was a guard for the University of Louisville basketball team and during the Elite Eight of the 2013 NCAA tournament, he suffered one of the most horrific injuries in sports history. After a long recovery, Ware decided to enter the 2016 NBA draft but unfortunately went undrafted. His injury definitely stalled his progress and might have cost him a chance to play in the NBA. 

Embed from Getty Images

To go along with the risk of injury, college athletes do not get paid. These athletes have spent their entire lives working to play the game they love for a living and one injury could leave them walking away with nothing.  Also, the quicker these athletes can get to the pros, the quicker they can get through their rookie contracts and earn a more lucrative contract. 

Another reason that this rule should be revised is that the ones who are going to college spend half of their time in the classroom. These athletes have to take classes that they are not going to use as a career and they spend half of their day in class when they could be working on their game instead. There are also restrictions on how much college teams are allowed to practice whereas in the NBA there are no restrictions. 

There have been multiple players who went straight to the pros out of high school when the rule was not in effect. Take Lebron James as an example. Lebron was one of the most hyped players of his generation coming out of high school.  Some may argue that he is the best basketball player of all time. Kobe Bryant is another prime example. Kobe went straight to the league from high school and ended his career with five rings. There have been many players that have done perfectly fine with the transition from high school to the NBA when there was no rule.

Embed from Getty Images

The argument of whether the NBA should allow players to go straight to the league out of high school is one that has been going on for decades. There have recently been talks around this topic so it will be interesting to see if they update the rule in the near future.

Sean Thompson is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class