Sports Editorial: The National Basketball Association should end problematic one-and-done system, replace with Professional Path program

Current Phoenix Suns forward Deandre Ayton (pictured above) was named in the FBI’s wire tap investigation into league bribery. Ayton played for only one year in college before being drafted by the Suns (Courtesy of creative commons).

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has been riddled with corruption, most prominently in the domain of men’s basketball. 

The current “one-and-done” system, which consists of the nation’s top players competing in college basketball for one year before they’re drafted by a professional team, has led to the corruption and disarray the nation now associates with the sport. A raise in pay and rule change within the National Basketball Association’s G-league may change the system altogether for the better. 

The one-and-done system has forced NCAA coaches to take drastic measures in the recruiting process. Without recruiting a top freshman to a team, it can be extremely difficult to compete for a national championship. 

In February of this year, a report by The Washington Post revealed that Sean Miller, head coach at Arizona University, discussed paying a $100,000 bribe to convince top recruit Deandre Ayton to sign with his team. Ayton would eventually sign with Arizona and is now in the NBA after one year of college basketball. This information came to light from an FBI wire-tap and also implicates several of the nation’s top freshmen from last season. 

College coaches are desperate to win games, conference championships and national championships. These coaches know that top recruits are the path to these accolades and they will do whatever it takes to entreat them to join their team. The current system must change. 

Under the one-and-done system, players spend at least one year out of high school to be eligible for the NBA draft. Historically, the NCAA has been the only option for young recruits out of high school. 

Many of these recruits will play for the highest bidder because they come from lower income areas and want to find ways to help their families. This issue may finally be put to an end with a new proposal by the NBA to amend the G-league.

The G-league is an affiliate of the NBA and is used to develop players, bearing similarities to the minor league system in professional baseball. The new rule—the Professional Path initiative—would allow the G-league to sign elite recruits at the age of 18 to contracts with a base salary of $125,000, according to Forbes. This solution is not perfect, but it does provide a different option when in the past there was not one.

The Professional Path initiative would allow young players to compete against players with NBA experience and make some money before declaring for the draft in the following year. This opportunity would also allow them to solely focus on basketball instead of having to balance education and the sport. 

Often, young recruits have no intention of completing their four-year degree—at least at that point in their young lives. The only issue with the rule is the language used. The Professional Path initiative refers to “elite” players. This phrasing will likely fuel debate as to what constitutes an elite player and how it will be decided.

Many of the counter arguments to the abolition of the one and done system focus on how it would lower the level of competition in the NCAA. The system should not burden young players in the name of increasing revenue and television ratings for college basketball. 

These players deserve to have more than one option and now it appears they will. The G-league’s new initiative will be implemented in the 2019-2020 season and could drastically change the college basketball landscape.