Should high school stars be NBA-eligible?


The Appalachian Online

Nick Joyner

Duke has been crowned the national champion, but collegiate basketball will be out of the spotlight until June 25.

Every year around April, controversy picks up steam concerning the NBA draft. Should players be allowed to declare for the draft right out of high school?

Although we still have to get through the NBA playoffs and the NFL draft, the NBA draft proposes a tough choice to mull over each year.

In 2005, the NBA established a rule that, to this day, changes the league as a whole. Any player determined to play in the NBA must be at least one year removed from high school to be eligible for the draft. This phenomenon has become controversial over the years, most notably labeled the “one-and-done” rule.

In the past, some players have shown that the extra year removed from high school is not necessary to be competitive in the NBA.

Everybody knows about LeBron James. The 2004 phenom dominated high school competition before becoming the No. 1 pick in the draft. He’s now considered a future hall-of-famer.

Before him there was Tracy McGrady. And Kobe Bryant. And Kevin Garnett. All of whom may go down in history as NBA icons.

The path to success for anyone who thinks they can make an instant impact  in the NBA has been laid out. Graduate high school, become a top pick, and begin your legacy.

The most recent of draftees without college experience, however, haven’t exactly panned out.

Jeremy Tyler was drafted in the second round by the then-Charlotte Bobcats (pick 39) in the 2011 draft, a 6-foot-11-inch forward who decided to leave high school after his junior year. The San Diego-native left the country for his shot at professional basketball, playing in the Israeli and Japanese leagues before becoming draft eligible in 2011.

That’s correct, Tyler opted for overseas ball instead of finishing high school and playing at one of the nation’s best universities for one year. He had committed to Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, but ultimately decided he would be better served in Israel.

Tyler hung around the NBA for a few years, but most recently signed a contract with Chinese pro team Shanxi Zhongyu. I’m not saying Tyler was wrong in wanting to go overseas, but bypassing a free college education to go pro in Israel is something most people would think twice about.

Brandon Jennings, on the other hand, turned out OK. The Detroit Pistons point guard committed to Arizona University in 2007. Ultimately, Jennings opted out of the free ride and went to Italy for a year, wanting to play pro basketball instead.

Unlike Tyler, Jennings never flew off NBA scouts’ radars. The following year, he was selected 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, and is now a vital part of Detroit’s rebuilding process.

Ultimately, if you’re good enough, it doesn’t matter where you go. You don’t have to go to college, or Israel, or Italy to become an NBA player and make millions of dollars. The problem is how do you know if you are good enough?

High school basketball standouts should have the option to declare for the NBA draft immediately. If a player thinks he is ready, he should be allowed to throw his hat in the ring. He may not turn out to be KG, but ultimately, it was his own choice. His hand wasn’t forced and he doesn’t have to try to bend the rules.

With the current rules in place, players can make some bad decisions. Jeremy Tyler simply left the country after his junior year of high school.

If the NBA changed the rule allowing any player to declare after graduating high school, I would find it hard to believe Tyler would have still fled to Israel and Japan.

Story by Nick Joyner, Senior Sports Reporter