In what is further proof of the joke that the NBA and its draft have been becoming for some time, former Alabama and current Manhattan guard, Rico Pickett, entered his name in the NBA draft today. He has wisely decided not to hire an agent at this time, thereby affording him an opportunity to return to Manhattan for his senior year if he chooses. The early consensus is that he will go undrafted. While Pickett did lead the MAAC conference in scoring this season at 17 ppg, his team finished a woeful 11-20.
However, in a league like the NBA, where fundamental basketball is little more than a punch line at this point, who knows, maybe Pickett will be drafted on potential and cash a few checks before making way for the next raw athlete. It makes you appreciate all the more the stunt this guy pulled a year ago.
The number of odd names being thrown into the NBA draft this season is on the rise, primarily due to fears that the NBA may not have a season in 2011 as the result of a possible lockout. In order to confront this possibility, any player who had anything approaching a solid season is or will be throwing their name into the ring to try and gain at least a year of professional experience. It's a smart move, depending on the player. On the other hand, by drawing just as many non-draftable players, it continues to shed light on the fact that the process whereby college players enter the draft needs to be seriously modified. Even with the NCAA's new rule that underclassmen have to remove their name by May 8th (as opposed to the previous date of June 25th), coaches and returning players are still left waiting over a month after the NCAA tournament ends to learn whether or not the player(s) will return. From a recruiting perspective, it's a tough spot to be put in, particularly if the staff does not have a player-in-waiting for the position being vacated. .
I say if a kid enters the draft they're not interested in playing college basketball. The kid should have to make up their mind before the late signing period begins. If you want to be in the pros, go for it. The worst case scenario for most of these guys is they'll continue to play basketball in a development league or overseas. Meanwhile, the kids who want to be in school will come back and college basketball will be the better for it. Most kids who are forced to return to school don't always come back with the right attitude. They're only interested in improving themselves and not their team. As a result the team chemistry is disrupted, and the player may even see his stock decline (see Warren, Willie).
The general consensus among common basketball fans is that the "One-And-Done" rule is a joke, which I agree with. That should be done away with along with the long waiting period for draft entry and removal. College basketball will not suffer without these players. If you need proof, just look at this season's NCAA tournament. The teams that enjoyed the greatest success generally counted on guys working within a team system as opposed to counting on one or two players to carry the team. I've heard and read several comments from those who consider Duke the weakest national champion crowned in years merely because there were no superstars on that team. That may be so, but by playing together and understanding the roles laid out for them by the coaching staff, that fundamentally sound, but boring, team took home the ultimate prize. Ultimately, that's all that matters. Hopefully, more coaches will understand that signing guys who will be around for 2-4 years is more beneficial than the quick fix. The end result, I hope, will be changes by the NBA and NCAA to the one-and-done and draft entry period rules that will be beneficial to both bodies.