How does potential raising of age limit impact recruiting?
New NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been vocal about the fact that he hopes to raise the minimum age limit for draft eligibility from 19 to 20 years old.
For the NBA, this is an easy decision, as there are very few 19 year olds who are ready for the league, but teams are using draft picks and roster spots on players who are often years away from being significant contributors.
It would make the league more experienced, while also giving scouts another year of evaluating, allowing the teams to make much more informed decisions on who to draft.
Silver has stated that the new rules wouldn’t go into effect before the 2015-16 season.
We know that the rule will help the NBA and the general response from college basketball fans has been positive.
With one and done players sticking around for another year, it allows fans of these teams to enjoy them for another year, but more importantly those talented players will most often be much more productive in year two, likely making their teams more competitive in the process.
There will be a handful of players who opt not to go to college at all and play professionally overseas or in the NBDL for a couple years before the draft, but for the most part, it’s a safe bet that the majority of highly touted prospects will go to college for two seasons.
Until now, the majority of college coaches have left the recruiting of one and done prospects to a small handful of programs.
Their theory has been that it’s better to build teams of three or four year players than rely on recruiting one-and-done prospects that they likely won’t be able to get anyway.
Other concerns have been that the one-and-done players often have one foot out the door so teaching them their system and helping them become much more fundamentally sound and skilled is much more challenging than with the typical player who will be around long term.
Keeping players academically eligible when they are essentially only in school for one semester is another issue that many coaches haven’t been anxious to deal with.
But if those same players are essentially forced to stay two years, the advantage of the coaches winning with three or four years players has been significantly reduced.
A lottery pick as a freshman is usually a really good but not great college player. That same lottery pick as a sophomore completely changes everything. And imagine if you’re a team like Kansas this past season, with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, getting them both back for their sophomore season? Forget it.
If Silver does in fact raise the minimum age limit, it gives a significant advantage to the coaches and programs who have shown the ability to recruit Top 10 prospects, and gives increased value to the assistants with the relationships, personality and work ethic to land those same players.
And yes, because it makes those players much more valuable to college programs, it increases the likelihood of some coaches doing whatever is necessary to land them, regardless of the rules.
For college basketball, this is the ultimate rich get richer scenario. The head coaches and assistants who can successfully recruit Top 10 prospects would become significantly more powerful. It’s great news for schools like Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Duke and others who are currently having no problem recruiting potential one-and-dones.
For those trying to compete for national championships mostly relying on three or four year players it would make their jobs suddenly much tougher.