Pacers' O'Brien: Stay in school

March 28, 2008
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Obrien2Indiana Pacers Coach Jim O’Brien said yesterday during his show on WFNI-1070 AM that he thinks players interested in entering the National Basketball Association draft should be required to wait two years after high school. This issue has gotten much hype recently with former Indiana University Coach Bob Knight saying it’s a sham that players only play one year in college. Knight pointed out that a college student planning to play just one year can pass as few as six credit hours of classes his first semester, not go to class at all during the second semester and still remain eligible for the entire year. Knight argues that a player doing that is not a true student-athlete. O’Brien called that scenario “a travesty to higher education.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to broach the subject during meetings this upcoming off-season with team owners and representatives of the NBA Players Association. Lately, Stern has been supportive of mandating a two-year post-high school wait. O’Brien said most new high school graduates are not physically, emotionally or socially ready for life in the NBA. If Stern moves to require players to play an additional year in college, O’Brien said he would “support it wholeheartedly.”

“It’s a tough life; it’s a tough league,” O’Brien said.

A move by NBA owners to require players to extend their college stay would not be completely altruistic, sports business experts said. NBA owners have recently become disgruntled about paying to develop players and drafting primarily on a player’s potential. O’Brien acknowledged that players’ rights have to be considered before such a measure is passed.

Do you think players should have to wait another year before entering the NBA draft?
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  • Absolutely! The maturity level of the NBA as a whole has sunk to an all-time low. Fans are loosing interest in the game because players are starting to have longer crime sheets than stat sheets. The Pacers are a perfect example. We've got the lowest attendance in the league. What other reasons do you have for a team from a state so rich in basketball heritage to be hurting so much? It's an integrity issue. A big reason for that being the players are too young when they're drafted. They aren't mature enough to handle the pressure, the spotlight and the money. If the NBA doesn't impose the new mandate, individual teams should step up and impose it on their own. It's going to come to a point when they have to do something because there won't be any fan support left and without the fans, you won't have a league.
  • They should be required to earn a 4 year degree before playing professionally.
  • Amen! And how about instituting a 3-strikes rule:

    get in trouble with the law once, you're warned and fined (steeply)
    twice, you're suspended, fined and have to attend some sort of training
    third, you're pete rose-d you're out. no more playing pro ball. no pension. you get it.
  • I'd like to see a rule similar to baseball, where aplayer can declare for the NBA draft out of HS, but if goes to college, he can't be drafted or signed by an NBA team until he has at least three years of school. This keeps guys who have no interest in college or academics from taking underwater basketweaving for a year and leaving. Probably 10-12 HS seniors are going to be drafted in the first round, and another 8-10 declare and either go in the second, or spend a year or two in Europe if they can't catch on with a team. That leaves the majority of players attending college for at least three years.
  • this is a must. for every lebron james, there are a hundred jonathan benders. even the stars of today that didn't go to college (mcgrady, bryant, garnett) had to wait years in order to develop and become top notch players. the one year mandate is not cutting it. most of the big name freshmen this year won't be starting after being drafted. in fact, i would venture to say that most will be lucky to contribute immediately (see eric gordon). no matter how much seasoning they need they will still be drafted higher than they should simply because of their potential. the nba needs to put a stop to gm's drafting players who will someday be good over players that could contribute at a high level immediately. requiring two or even three years of college would improve the nba as well as the college game.
  • While it would be nice to have a more educated and mature freshman class in the NBA every year, aren't 18-year-olds adults? And despite the lofty goals of No Child Left Behind, not every high school student is college material. Maybe instead of forcing 18-, 19- and 20-year olds to attend college, the NBA should develop its own program to groom young players for public life, a finishing school if you will. That way a young player would not be denied three years of earnings during his very short and lucrative NBA career.
  • The NCAA should enact a Pay Back Rule. If a college basketball player does not go to school for 4 years and earns his degree, he must pay back the entire value of his scholarship. For example, if he leaves school after his freshman year and enters the NBA, he must pay back all of what his tuition cost. If each year it costs $20,000 x 4 years = $80,000, he must pay back that amount to the university.

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