By KYLE BENNETT
Many college sports fans fall in love with their favorite players. It’s no different than the professionals who play for their hometown teams. The reason college football is such a successful industry is because the student-athletes are required to play through their junior season before they are allowed to declare for the NFL Draft. Fans are able to gain a personal connection with that player and cheer for their favorite college team in the process. But the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball (NCAAB) teams have a different process. We are beginning to see an era of college basketball players that are being tagged with the name “One and Done”, meaning they attend school for one year, showcase their talents, and then move on to the NBA. There are current NBA rosters with players that are younger than myself, being 20 years old. Sure, I may be getting older and the younger generation is starting to reach the collegiate level, but why do we need to have 18 year old kids playing against grown men in their 20’s and 30’s? With the great, fluid system that the NFL and NCAA Football have going, why is it so difficult for the NBA and NCAA basketball to come up with a similar agreement? College basketball is a thriving sport, but when you have to replace players year in and year out, fans tend to not even know who plays for their favorite team anymore. The University of Kentucky Wildcats starting five for their basketball team this season, which made it to the NCAA Championship Game, consisted of all freshmen. The Wildcats had one senior player this season. Just a few weeks after the big game, 6’9 freshman Power Forward, Julius Randle declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. Randle is 13 months younger than myself and will be taking on the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and other NBA superstars come next fall. Coaches and recruiters go through draining and intense recruiting sessions for these young athletes just to have them come to their school. The students also go through great pressure with all of the big name coaches and schools that come to see them. So why go through that process if the student athlete is only going to stay at the school for one year just to showcase himself for the NBA? The way I see these young teenagers coming into the professional sports world is equivalent to throwing a high school graduate right into the work force. I don’t think that they are mentally or physically prepared for the road they are about to travel down. The physical and mental demands of basketball as a sport are hard enough, but to be going through those routines as a career adds that much more pressure to an athlete. If the NBA wants to start putting an even better product on the court for not only their own fan base, but the fan base of the NCAA, they will start to think about an increase in age before being able to declare for the NBA Draft. New NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, has started to discuss the idea of increasing the minimum age to 19 if an athlete wishes to declare for the NBA Draft. I agree with his decision because the increase in age will keep the kids on the playground and the athletes on the court.