April 2, 2007

My Thoughts on College Basketball

Dear Commissioner Stern - I'd like to thank you for the 2006-07 NCAA Basketball season. I know you are primarily an NBA guy, but I think you are responsible for this year's college season. Just wanted to thank you.
This has been a great year in college basketball in my opinion and I would largely attribute this season's success to the NBA rule requiring kids to play at least 1 season of college hoops before becoming eligible for the NBA draft. Tonight's championship game features the 2 best teams in the country for most of the 06-07 season.

Ohio State - The Buckeyes are a unique mix of super talented Freshmen and veterans who contribute greatly to the success of this team. Greg Oden is the best Center in the country and a LOCK to be one of the top 2 pick in the NBA draft. Had Oden been 1 year older, we never would have seen him at the college level as he would surely have gone straight to the NBA. Mike Conley Jr. is another super freshman for the Buckeyes who is a blast to watch and I think will be in the conversation for player of the year in 2007-08.

- The Gators are a team of super talented Juniors. Defending national champs who returned their top 7 players. Florida's top 5 players all will likely be drafted with a couple of them expected to be impact players in the NBA.

I cannot attribute Florida's talent to Commissioner Stern, but without the NBA's 19 yr old eligibility rule the Gator's opponent would likely be someone like UCLA who they dismantled on Saturday by 10 (and the game was not nearly that close).

You can argue all day long that this rule is unfair, kids who are that talented should be allowed to earn money while they are able. I won't disagree with you from an economic standpoint, but from the fan's perspective I think this is great for all involved. The overall talent at the college level is much better (AP player of the year was freshman Kevin Durrant) and this NBA draft looks to be one of the best in years. Hopefully NBA teams won't be required to spend 3 years on a high school player before he becomes a contributor to their team.

Ultimately I am a fan of increased overall talent at the college level (Durrant, Oden, Conley Jr, Brendan Wright, Chase Budinger, etc.). Most if not all of the players mentioned would never have stepped foot on a college campus were it not for this rule. I think their NBA careers will develop quicker by taking the transitional step of college basketball rather than the leap from high school to the NBA.

This has been one of the best overall seasons of NCAA basketball in recent memory. Now if we could just make the Gopher men's hoops relevant again!

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