It’s no secret that the NBA is moving closer and closer to abolishing its rule that prevents players from entering the league straight out of high school.
Some believe the age limit will change from 19 to 18 as early as 2021, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver is certainly on board.
“My personal view is that we’re ready to make the change,” he told USA Today earlier this month.
If an alteration is made, it would end the “one-and-done” era of college basketball that has existed since 2006. Surefire lottery picks like Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III would skip college basketball and jump straight to the NBA ranks.
While the Arizona Wildcats have reaped the benefits from one-and-dones like Ayton and Lauri Markkanen in recent years, UA athletic director Dave Heeke said he is a “big advocate” for a rule change.
It would benefit the players and universities, he opines.
“I think it’s a flaw in the system to say that someone cannot go, even though they can handle it, they’re talented enough, they could play in the NBA,” he said Thursday.
“To somehow say, ‘okay, hey universities, you have to hold them for a year’ puts a tremendous amount of stress on our system. It’s not designed for a holding pattern when the reality the focus is we’re going to be here (for four years). So I’m a big advocate of that rule changing. I’m glad that the commissioner has talked openly about that.”
Heeke’s sentiments echo those of UA head coach Sean Miller, who said in 2016 that the one-and-done culture in college basketball is “upside down.”
Then more recently, Miller told The Athletic that Arizona is now “looking for four-star [recruits] who want to develop, as opposed to just five-star guys who are thinking about how quickly they can leave.”
“That’s not to say we wouldn’t take the next Deandre Ayton, but we want to solidify who we are and then mix in one or two guys who are like that,” Miller told The Athletic. “That’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
Heeke’s view is similar — he prefers multi-year players — but he is looking at the situation from an educational perspective.
“When you’re just a one-and-done, you can’t get engaged in what is fundamental, I believe, to the overall experience, and that’s the educational piece of it,” he said.
“Look, sports are great. The athletic side is awesome, you want to compete at the very highest level, but our model is you’re also going to do that in an academic environment. You’re going to pursue a meaningful degree and work toward graduation. I also really believe that the longer that we can keep them, even though they do leave early, they can come back when things don’t go right and finish their degree and have one.
“So the closer we can get them to a degree, the better. I hope we can get to at least two years, maybe three years.”
Heeke is also open to a new model that would allow underclassmen to return to school if they go undrafted. Arizona has had four players — Chance Comanche, Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins, and Allonzo Trier — in that boat in the last two years alone.
“We should give these families, these young people, all the information possible,” Heeke said. “Too many people under the table are telling them ‘this is what you should do.’
“Let’s get it right up on top of the table, so they know, they can see it, they can see the finances ... and where they are — their stats, their profile. And then when people make decisions they make decisions, but they should have all that information and it should be very transparent.”