The One-And-Done Phenomenon

Over the course of the past few years the issue of the one-and-done players keeps coming up to be discussed by both the NCAA and the NBA. In this article, we will look to discover if this phenomenon is destroying college basketball, or if there is another culprit. I will examine graduation rates, transfer rates, and success in the NBA. 

First of all, let us clear up what a one-and-done player is to anyone who is not familiar with the term. One-and-done players are those who go to college and decide to leave to go professionally in the NBA or another international league. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this practice, and as you will see in the next few paragraphs, it is not a plague, as the media may lead you to believe.

Here are a few fun stats from the 2012-2013 season going into the 2013-2014 brought to you from the NCAA’s website. 79% of freshmen continue playing for their original school, 20% transfer or quit their sport, 0.7% go to the NBA, and 0.6% go play internationally. On average, there is only eight freshmen who leave college after just one year to enter the NBA draft. So as you can, the main thing hurting college teams is the high transfer rate among players.

2006 was the year the NBA ended the possibility for High School students to be drafted, and instituted the idea of either attending one year of college, or being at least 19 years of age. Many feel this rule is unfair to players, as they are forced to spend a year playing, risking career ending injury, for no payments; meanwhile, the school, NCAA, and NBA make a profit off of these players without the players earning any cut. A few will ask, well how does the NBA make money off college players? The answer lies within contracts and scouting. With a year of college basketball scouts can watch highly-touted players battle it out against tougher competition than in High School; therefore, allowing them to get a better look at possible success at the next level. The contract is where the players are really hurt, as their rookie deals lead them into their primes, and therefore not allowing them to capitalize on as many max deals as possible. Finally, this also benefits the NBA, as they do not throw huge contracts at High School players, who end up fizzling out due to their inability to adjust to the professional level.

There is also a money factor that comes into play when discussing why the one-and-done is becoming more frequent. Being a first round selection you are guaranteed a salary ranging anywhere from $900,000-$4,800,000. Ellen Staurowsky, a sports management professor from Drexel University, revealed that the NCAA is not allowing their top ten teams players to negotiate deals, costing those players around $1.6 million in market value, which include endorsement deals and NBA contracts. So, if you have the attributes to be a first round pick, why on earth would you stay in college? In college, players are limited to an athletic scholarship, worth only a few thousands for one year of college, which is almost worthless in reality; players have the potential to suffer a career ending injury and have their scholarship terminated and potentially lose a chance to make a living in the NBA or any professional circuit. They are left to pay for living expenses, but they are not allowed to earn any source of income as long as they are student-athletes, which is beyond absurd. Many of these players come from impoverished families, and were banking on their athletic prowess to get their families in a better situation.

Some will say turn to the D-League. The D-League does have a rising talent pool, and with more and more clubs looking to adopt one for their own players to develop on, this could become a new trend for players. The problem with the D-League right now is the fact is gets almost no broadcasting, very little pay, and quite frankly, college provides a better overall atmosphere. In fact, the average D-League salary falls near $20,000, which is nowhere near enough to support a family. A D-League reform to secure broadcasting rights with at least a mid-level network will then allow for more high profile players to skip college, and enter the D-league, where they could negotiate their own deals before moving up to the professional league. This would further allow teams to scout players at a cheaper cost, as well as giving the teams the opportunity to develop the kids in their own system, making the adjustment to the professional level a more smooth transition. This process would be more effective than a player, like in past years with Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay, going overseas and testing their luck. Going overseas is extremely difficult; players do not speak the language and they are fresh out of high school. It is just too much to ask for from an 18 year old.

The proponents of the extra year of school say it is beneficial for the player’s development; well, two Florida State University professors have researched whether the extra year of college helps player development. The answer was no: it did not help with success at the next level.

Even when you look at graduation rates for school’s that a primary one-and-done schools, Kentucky’s basketball players graduate 82% of the time, Duke 100%, North Carolina 90%, and Arizona 64%. These percentages are way higher than schools, who say they want to develop players and are the main proponents of eliminating the one-and-done. Ohio State 46%, Syracuse 45%, Wisconsin 44%, Indiana 43%, Arkansas 10%, Connecticut 8%. It’s truly puzzling why some people are fighting against the one-and-done rule, a rule that benefits many school, especially given the success of Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Connecticut over the past decade without the need for one-and-dones.

Recruitment and money are the main reason for teams wanting to eliminate the one-and-done. Teams and fans are beginning to grow tired of players teaming up together to chase championships. Players make package deals; the most recent examples of this former Duke stars Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. They agreed in advanced on which school they would take their 5-star talents to. And now, there are rumors of Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum (both of which are top-3 recruits for 2016) planning to come as a package. Furthermore, most of the time, these kids know they are only going to be playing one year of college ball, so they decide to go to a school where this idea is practiced. For this reason, you have the same schools always getting the highly-touted recruits and taking money away from other hopeful schools, who then have to focus on developing their players to compete against these star players, which creates hatred for the system. However, teams not-named Kentucky should cater to one-and-done recruits. It is unlikely that the rule will change, however whispers from the NBA suggest that Adam Silver is considering a rule change. Schools should up their recruiting and draw those 5-star talents to their programs. They may only get the players services for a year, but they will also build a reputation and attract more recruits in the future.

These are probably the ideas that most of us had about the subject; instead of trying to change the rule, our main focus should be focused on the players and look into paying them their worth. The simple answer is money, but Adam Silver has been discussing changing this policy lately, and I will discuss a practical way of fixing the problem.

College basketball say hello to college baseball and their draft rules. You want to play straight out of High School? Go for it; but if you want to attend college you must stay for at least three years. This is the easiest way to fix college basketball’s biggest problem. You will not get as many big stars playing at the amateur level, but you will still get a couple, as well as seeing your talent pool even out, so it is not the same teams every year at the top, due to their recruiting of these star players. For the NBA, you take the heat off yourself about using the players, as well as gaining valuable time to scout less touted players, as well as being able to secure the potential star players right after High School. The NBA would also then be able to use this to speed up their development of the D-League, as more people would want to watch these games creating new TV revenue. The kids benefit from this as they can either chase their dream as well as the money, or they actually have to take school seriously, and are more likely to try and get a degree in case their basketball career does not pan out.

I for one am not a fan of making kids go to school for one year, as I think those scholarships could be used for other students, and these athletes deserve to be paid what their worth if they are forced to play for a year before the professional level. I think the biggest thing needed is reform, and I hope to see that in the very near future for the sake of basketball as a whole.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

Link to the graduation rates for every college basketball team:


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