High School Draft Rule Hurts College Basketball
A new college basketball season tips off this week. It’s a time for experts and fans to look back at last year to come up with a list of players and teams to look for to this season. Unfortunately in college basketball this is difficult because the top players in the nation leave for the NBA. Because the NBA makes players go to the college for at least one season, college basketball fans have no chance to familiarize themselves with the best players and teams. College basketball needs to adopt a system like college baseball: either go pro straight out of high school or wait until three seasons have passed.
Even without the three year requirement, just allowing kids go straight out from high school to the pros was better for college basketball. In 2005, the last year that players where allowed to enter the draft after high school, only eight college freshman and sophomores were drafted. In 2012 eight of them were drafted in the first 10 slots, twenty of them overall.
Why does that matter? It matters because when a player is only in around for a season or two it is hard for fans to follow players and teams other then their alma maters. Stars move the needle in the ratings and put butts in the seats. It becomes a fan’s burden to figure out who the stars are year in and year out when twenty of the top players in the nation are only around for a season or two.
Don’t listen to me though listen to the numbers. The 2012 Final Four championship game drew the highest ratings (9.0 Neilson) since 2005(10.5 Neilson.) This means that since 2005 the ratings have stayed the same. Meanwhile, sports in general have more than doubled in ratings. In 2004-2005 sports drew 8.1% of the prime time audience, in 2010-2011, 20%. This means that college basketball has lost over half of the sports fan television market share since the rule change.
The seven year old one and done rule has turned college basketball into an NBA purgatory. Three seasons is the perfect amount of time for players to rise to stardom and give fans a chance to see them play. The “one and dones” may be exciting for a year, but their short lived college careers hurt college basketball.