Blog Entry

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Posted on: May 18, 2009 10:59 am

Anybody who reads here much knows that -- though I loved writing about Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Tyreke Evans -- I think the NBA's age-limit rule preventing high school players from jumping directly to the NBA is ridiculous, and that those who pretend college basketball is necessary to prepare prospects are either stupid, naive or blind to all the information suggesting otherwise.

Which brings me to these NBA Playoffs.

We are now down to the final four teams, and the leading scorer for those four teams - Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets, LeBron James of the Cavs and Dwight Howard of the Magic -- combined to play a grand total of one season of college basketball. Furthermore, none of the top three regular-season scorers from the Lakers (Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) or Magic (Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu) played a minute of college basketball, and none of the remaining contenders' top three scorers from the regular season did more than two years of college.

Now look at it this way ...


  • Kobe Bryant: Zero years of college
  • Pau Gasol: Zero years of college
  • Andrew Bynum: Zero years of college
  • Carmelo Anthony: One year of college
  • Chauncey Billups: Two years of college
  • J.R. Smith: Zero years of college
  • LeBron James: Zero years of college
  • Mo Williams: Two years of college
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Zero years of college
  • Dwight Howard: Zero years of college
  • Rashard Lewis: Zero years of college
  • Hedo Turkoglu: Zero years of college
Add it up and nine of the 12 leading regular-season scorers (who are currently active) from the Lakers, Nuggets, Cavs and Magic never played college basketball. Six (Bryant, Bynum, Smith, James, Howard and Lewis) went directly from American high schools to the NBA, three (Gasol, Ilgauskas and Turkoglu) are international players, and the other three (Anthony, Billups and Williams) played in college for a combined total of five seasons.

So again, I love college basketball would like to see all the greats play four years.

I'm sure you would, too.

But let's not pretend it's always the best way or even necessary to develop as a player.

Because these NBA Playoffs are clearly suggesting otherwise.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Mar 30, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:17 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

"Is it fair to compare Gasol, Turkoglu and Z to the guys brought up in the American system?"  By its nature, this question is based on agreement with the fact that in Europe, you can join the capitalist system much more quickly and don't have to play for free.  But not if you were "brought up in the American system."  When more socialist economies are providing a more capitilistic approach than the US, it should set off some alarm bells that we are doing something wrong.

Since: Jan 2, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2009 4:14 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

extremely well said. my hat is off to you.

keep the rule. it's the only reason i came back to the nba after that stupid strike and all the hs thugs that poured into the league.

Since: Mar 20, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 3:54 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Personally, I don't like the one year rule.  I don't think you should deny a person the ability to earn a living simply because of their age.  If they are capable of playing in the NBA they should be able to.  Why are there not the same rules for tennis players or golfers??  The reason for the rule is because of college basketball being a major sport and major business for the universities. 

I think a solution could be that anyone should be able to declare for the NBA draft and stay eligible for college as long as they are not drafted and do not get signed by a team.  Several players in the past tried to go to the NBA from HS based on bad advice and never made it.  These players should then be able to use their basketball skills to get an education, and possibly another shot at the NBA.

Forcing players into college for one year does not benefit the player/student or the university in the long run, nor does it really help the NBA.  Maybe the NBA should make a bigger commitment to the D-league so that young players not cut out for college have an option.

I don't think the argument against the one year rule should be based on a handful of players that have excelled, especially when you group in the foreign players as proof.

Since: Mar 25, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2009 3:41 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

I don't care much for the NBA game anymore.

I don't think the NBA is anywhere the level of the day's of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It doesn't even compete with the Jordan years.

All these guys went to college back in the good old days (I sound like a grumpy old man).

Maybe the college setting impacts more than the players game???

It might teach them about life and make them more well rounded citizens. It translated into better basketball in the past... didn't it?

I think the NBA should follow the NFL's lead and make kids stay in school until they are at least a Junior.

Since: Oct 26, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2009 3:29 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Can we not count European players as having a lack of college experience since they actually were playing pro-ball in Europe before they joined the NBA.

Can we also look at Kwame Brown and other non-college players who's teams are lottery bound? 

Since: Apr 11, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2009 3:20 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Wow, great logic!  Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley were great examples to open with since those two players dominated the playoffs this year!  Wait, no they didn't because they haven't developed their game yet.  Then you list a 12th year (Kobe), two 10th year (Lewis & Ilgauskas), and a 7th year (Gasol),  NBA player as examples.  Other than LeBron, who on the list was a dominant player upon immediatley entering the NBA?  It takes time to develop into a mature basketball player and most kids aren't ready to do that at 18,19, even 20 years old sometimes.  I don't think one year of college and then dash to the NBA is the answer either but how many kids try to go pro out of high school and fail?  How dominant are/were Martell Webster, Gerald Green, Shaun Livingston, Sebastian Telfair, and Ndudi Ebi some recent first round picks out of high school?  What could Jerryd Bayless or Kevin Love have done in college this year?
I don't necessarily agree with forcing kids to go to college, but there has to be a few players that this rule saves and all the boderline players who would sit on the bench in the NBA maybe find a better career path.  I don't think you listed any information to suggest otherwise.  You listed a bunch of pros who are on good teams and have developed their game over the course of the years in the NBA instead of the NCAA.  In the end you said it isn't always the best way or even necessary and that is true, but isn't the best course that players have?

Since: Apr 18, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 3:07 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

kenyon went to university so what is your argument?

Since: Feb 5, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2009 3:03 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Here's a question: how many years of college did the primary role players on these teams average?  These guys certainly aren't doing everything all by themselves (well maybe lebron is....)

It's one thing for the uber-talented guys to go straight from high school but when you allow everybody to do it we'll end up with a bunch of guys in the d-league or hanging at the YMCA reliving their glory days in HS.  I say athletes already have an opportunity to go pro straight from HS - it's called the European leagues.  Secondly, are international teams being compared to college teams?  Is that what we are to assume?  International players who come to the NBA are usually more developed then most college juniors/seniors so I feel like they were only included here as a smokescreen - take them away and the numbers are nowhere near as impressive. 

I totally agree that for some college is waste of time and money, but the rule is in place so more kids don't throw away their chance at college and potentially earning a draft spot.  One year of college is not that bad - and what happens when they want to be able to take 16 year olds next?  Do we let our kids drop out of high school to go to the NBA?  If sitting through a reporter interview a player who can't put a noun and a verb together now is bad think of how much worse it could get as our education system is further used as minor leagues.  A better solution is a minimum of 2 years of college but players will earn a salary based partly on academic achievement and partly on athletics.  Plus in this case the lebrons and kobe's and howards could be identified early and have their curriculum tailored by the school to give them some of the skills needed to avoid being ripped off by shady agents.

Since: Jan 16, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2009 2:54 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Is it fair to compare Gasol, Turkoglu and Z to the guys brought up in the American system? Did the three European players mention have any post-secondary education under their belt or were they playing professionally overseas from 16 or something before heading stateside?

Since: Nov 5, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2009 2:51 pm

NBA Playoffs dominated by non-college players

Thanks for the great post! It's good to finally see the hard facts like this. However, the other 12 teams have players that skipped college that play absolutely vital parts of their game!

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