Should College be a Requirement for the NBA?

Ever since 2007, the National Basketball Association has made college a requirement for aspiring professional basketball players, therefore preventing the skip from high school straight to the NBA.

Players have to be nineteen or older or have attended one year of college before being drafted in the NBA. With this rule, there has been a common term used for many athletes called “one and dones”. The term is self-explanatory in itself, however, it is when an athlete does one year of college basketball and goes straight to the NBA. 

Many athletes want to go straight to the NBA, so they take the quickest route to the NBA possible, however, with the requirements needed to get drafted today there are many risks. A big risk from this additional college requirement is the risk of an injury before an athlete’s career can even start. For example, Ray Smith was a 5-star prospect in a No.3 top recruiting class in the nation, however, he suffered two ACL injuries one in high school, and one in college while playing for Arizona. Smith had a bright future in front of him, however, the second ACL injury during college was the deal-breaker for him. Ever since this injury basketball has not been the same for him. As of 2020, Smith still has not been drafted to the NBA, regardless of being one of the top recruits for his class. This is a prime example of how this extra year of college basketball is a risk and can lead to a career-ending injury. 

This leads me to believe that players should be allowed to make the jump from high school straight to the NBA, however, this leap would be for the more elite athletes. The best example of this would be Lebron James, back in 2003 where this college attendance was a requirement, Lebron made the leap from high school to the NBA and now is currently the best player in the league. In my opinion, there are more athletes that can do just as Lebron did, there are many high school basketball players who appear to have the potential to jump straight to the NBA without any problem skill-wise. 

However, another reason this rule was made was to ensure athletes were mature enough for the NBA as highschool basketball and NBA basketball are two completely different environments. I can see where maturity comes to play, but I believe those who really want it and deserve it are those who have the maturity straight from high school to college. I believe athletes should be able to make their own decisions and do what they think will be the right move. 

Lastly, another consideration is that the NCAA does not allow athletes to receive any form of income while playing in the league. Not all athletes having the financial stability to attend college without being able to earn any income for their athletic performances. College basketball takes up a huge part of an athlete’s life, therefore, they should be rewarded for it, but this is not how the NCAA works. 

This is overall why I believe that high school athletes should be able to make the jump straight into the NBA without having to attend college. I think players nowadays are capable of this and should not risk their futures for one season of college basketball.