Age limit is a step in the right direction

June 29, 2005, midnight | By Adith Sekaran | 15 years, 7 months ago

Limit should be beneficial to all parties

With the NBA Finals as exciting and competitive as ever, it would be a shame to see the NBA enter a lockout. Game Seven on Thursday, June 23, was the first game seven in over a decade. While the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs were consistently leaving everything out on the floor, behind the scenes NBA commissioner David Stern and other involved parties have quietly reached an agreement, which seemed impossible even just a few days ago.

Out of desperation, Stern was eager to get a deal done to prevent the second lockout since 1998. The new deal will reduce the maximum length of contracts by a year, increase the salary cap, implement random drug testing for more drugs and, most importantly, set an age limit for those looking to enter the league at 19.

The league for the last few years has seen an influx of young international players and high school graduates. In fact, this year was the first year in the last five when a college player was drafted first overall.

While most of the high school and international players scouts are interested in are under 19, a few manage to slip through the cracks. Amare Stoudemire and Kwame Brown both entered the league straight out of high school but were 19 by the time of the draft. Thus, these two would still be eligible to enter the draft under the new rules.

Instead of setting an age limit, Stern should have mandated that every NBA prospect spend at least a year on a collegiate team, preferably in the NCAA. College basketball offers a different level of competition compared to high school and the NBA.

The quality of play by collegiate teams, especially the perennial powerhouse squads, is much improved from high school teams. A dominant player at the high school level will likely not be the same playing against better competition. Brown and Tyson Chandler both manhandled their high school opponents, which lead to their high expectations and draft selection, but they ultimately struggled in the big leagues. A year of college would at least train them to play against each other and give them much needed experience.

Also, the college season will get players acclimated to the long NBA season. The NBA season is a strenuous 82 games, plus all the rigorous practices and off-season training sessions. The length is a drastic change from the high school season, which runs for only a few months, usually comprising around one third of the school year. At college, the players become more focused and basketball becomes their life. The season runs from November through March with the postseason running into the first few weeks of April. The player with hopes of entering the draft should be on squads that are regularly in the postseason. Through the six months, the players participate in anywhere from around 30 to 40 games. Moreover, six months facing better competition and learning from excellent coaches improves the players.

Giving millions of dollars to kids right out of high school is a bad idea, most of the time. Most of the kids, who have never lived alone, are thrust into a new city without any support and tons of expectations. Brown did not even know how to eat properly without his family when he first came to Washington. He was forced into fast food for the first few months. A year at college will give the players experience living without parents so their transition into the NBA will be made easier.

The age limit will do wonders for the already stellar ratings of college basketball. Now, college teams are watered down with players that are not talented enough to make the jump straight to the NBA and thus need to go to college. However, if players such as Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and others played NCAA ball, just imagine the possibilities and level of game play. The colleges with the best recruiting will get even better with several superstars on the floor at the same time.

Lastly, the league will be able to gauge the talent and potential of international players. As with high schoolers, the levels of competition around the globe are different than that of the NBA. Detroit Pistons reserve Darko Milicic, the second pick of the 2003 draft, has still not proved his worth on an NBA court. All of the tapes seen by the Pistons and other league teams gave them the idea that is a superb player. If Milicic spent a year playing for Duke or some other American squad, he could have developed more and given the scouts the chance to watch him playing against competition they can judge. More fans will know the true value of the players being drafted and the professional teams can fully utilize their players now, instead of in the future.

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Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »

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