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Leaving College Basketball Early for the NBA

Updated on April 7, 2015

Leaving College Baketball Early for the NBA

What are the problems with college basketball? I'm going to talk about college basketball problems here and let you know what I see as some of the main problems with the game. It seems to me that the college basketball game has suffered lately and the run of top talent early to the NBA is the main reason why.


Leaving Early for the NBA- LSU's Dwayne Scales

I remember when I was in about 9th grade or so, my favorite hometown team, LSU had a great player named Dwayne Scales. His nickname was the Astronaut and he was know for his tomahawk dunks and his good outside shooting ability. I remember how upset I got because Scales, a junior at LSU at the time, was suspended from the NCAA tournament I believe it was because it was discovered that he signed or talked with an agent while at the SEC tournament. This was just devastating to the LSU basketball team. I was so pumped up back then about LSU basketball and what then LSU Coach Dale Brown had going on with his program at the time. Scales was indeed drafted by the I think the New York Knicks and had a very mediocre NBA career as far as I can remember.


Shaquille O'Neal Leaves After Junior Year

Years later Dale Brown had Shaquille O'Neal at LSU. Shaq was a beast in college and was college basketball's player of the year as a sophomore. He also holds the NCAA tournament record for blocked shots in one game with 11. It's amazing to think that LSU actually got to keep Shaq on their team for three years. Today that would be unheard of. That was disappointing when Shaq left early back then nut back then if a player left after their junior year then that was becoming more common to do. The lure of big dollars with an NBA contract is hard to resist. So here you have some of the best players on my favorite college basketball team leaving early for pro careers. The previous year start guard Chris Jackson went pro after his sophomore season. He was picked third overall by the Denver Nuggets. Are you starting to see a trend here yet?

Kentucky star player #23 Anthony Davis and the rest of teammates all leaving early for the NBA draft.
Kentucky star player #23 Anthony Davis and the rest of teammates all leaving early for the NBA draft. | Source

Kentucky's Players Leave Early for NBA

The powerful basketball program at the University of Kentucky lost their entire starting five players after they won the NCAA National Championship to the NBA. Could you imagine how good they would be if these guys all came back? I'm pretty sure that almost all of them except for maybe one are all freshman. It seems Coach Calipari is able to just go get five more high school All-Americans and reload his team and be just as good the following year. He recruits players that he knows will be "one and dones" so to speak. This is what college basketball has become. Rarely will you see a top level NBA caliber player stay in college all the way through their senior year of college eligibility. Could you imagine if star Kentucky center Anthony Davis were to stay in college through his junior year like Shaq did at LSU? People would think he was crazy if he were to do this today.

Lebron James went straight to the NBA out of high school.
Lebron James went straight to the NBA out of high school. | Source

From High School straight to the NBA

For a while someone like former NBA great was an oddity as he was one of only maybe a couple of guys that went straight to the NBA out of high school. I don't know the circumstances around how this happened as I was to young to know or care. I remember announcers saying how he went to the NBA and never went to college. Then later on about9 or ten years ago we started seeing all the top talented players such as Lebron James skip college all together and go straight to the NBA. It got to where everyone being drafted in the top ten of the NBA were all high school All-Americans and never stepped foot on a court to represent any college team. Thankfully, the NBA finally changed their rules and now have it to where a player must be at least one year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA draft. That means that star high school players must play college ball for at least one year or they can go play ball in the NBA's developmental league. This is why we see things like all the star freshman from the University of Kentucky's basketball team all going to play college ball for just one year.

In Conclusion

It seems like the current state of affairs for college basketball will stay as it is. With the lure of big money NBA dreams, Many players that could greatly benefit for more time spent perfecting their game at the college level will most certainly figure they can get that contract and get better while they are in the league making money. At least there is also now a rookie salary scale that prevents rookies from making more money than proven NBA veterans. I've seen my own favorite team, LSU fall off the map of the college basketball world. They made a Final Four run about 10 years ago with Glenn Davis and Tyrus Thomas but Thomas left early and even though Davis stayed another year, the team wasn't as good. Those powers like Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and so forth seem like they will continue to be among the elite in college basketball no matter what the rule changes. These school put more emphasis on their basketball programs and will continue to do quite well. LSU is primarily a football and baseball school now. Basketball is a distant third. I hope you've enjoyed my article and I welcome your comments on the subject below.

Your Comments on College Basketball Problems Here

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    • Pkittock profile image

      Pkittock 5 years ago from Minnesota

      For me, the problems with basketball in the US starts earlier than college or even high school. The "AAU Generation" has been raised to play on pure athleticism as opposed to skill. With these types of players moving through the system, you end up with guys like Anthony Randolph- huge, fast, great vertical... but no clue how to play the game. That's where the Europeans have us beat- all of their bigs have developed post/mid-range games, and they all are SKILLED. Not just athletic. They are good passers, intellectual players, and know how to fit a role within an offense.

    • TristanDoes profile image

      Tristan 2 years ago from Indiana

      LSU had somewhat of a tough team this past season (2013-'14). It's too bad that they're losing some key players. However, Tigers boast a pretty strong front court. Of course, competing against UK is almost not worth mentioning, but, LSU has a team that could surprise people.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 2 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Your article is absolutely correct. Both college teams and the NBA suffer from the early-entry of the game's top talents. These kids think running fast and jumping high make them stars, and most players know nothing about basketball when they reach the NBA. Imagine a kid deciding to forego law school and insisting on being allowed to practice law-- would you want this person defending you in court? College is where the game of basketball should be learned, and the game is worse when the learning process is skipped.

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