By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
When Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball team faced off against Kansas State Monday night, it was senior night, when those playing the final home games of their careers are honored.
Markel Brown and Mason Cox were feted, as was Marcus Smart. Brown and Cox are seniors, Smart, not so much. He is listed as a sophomore.
Of course, as soon as the Cowboys’ up-and-down season is over, Smart will declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. He could have done so after last season, under the league’s so-called “one and done,” rule, which requires basketball players to spend only one season in college before bolting to the NBA.
The rule was implemented before the 2006 draft to keep high school stars from jumping directly to the pros, a la Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett, among others.
While players like Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, along with Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, have proven successful after their one and done years, plenty of other players have jumped too soon, and quickly found out they weren’t ready for the big time.
Now, if always opinionated Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban and his way, the rule will be changed to none and done. Cuban proposes drafting the nation’s top high school stars and assigning them to NBA Development League teams rather than forcing them to go to college for a year.
Cuban points to the hypocrisy involved in basketball’s one and done rule.
“Because he’s not going to class,” Cuban told the Associated Press, “he’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball.” He called the whole situation “a big lie.”
So is it time to stop the big lie? Perhaps.
Baseball has long drafted high school players who are being recruited by colleges. They must then choose, sign a contract and go to the minor leagues or sign a letter of intent and spend three years in college, if they opt to attend a four-year school. If they go to junior college, they can leave school and turn pro at any time.
Football players must stay in school until three years after their high school class graduates before they become eligible for the NFL.
Kevin Durant apparently enjoyed his one season at the University of Texas. He remains close to the program and coach Rick Barnes. And he was an exciting player for one year for the Longhorns, as he led them to a 25-10 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Durant left Texas and made an immediate impact in the league, and now is contending for most valuable player honors.
On the other side of the coin is KD’s former Thunder teammate, Byron Mullens. The seven-footer left Ohio State after one year and was drafted 24th overall in 2009. He currently plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, his fourth NBA team, and is averaging 3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.
Doing away with the one and done rule would keep college basketball fans from being able to enjoy the likes of Duke’s Jabari Parker or Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, even briefly.
Still, it may be time for one and done to go by the wayside, and for the NBA to adopt the three-year rule used in football and baseball.
That doesn’t preclude Cuban’s suggestion, however, the next time another LeBron or KD comes along and they choose to draft him and stash him in the NBDL for a year before allowing him to join the big club.
But if players are going to a four-year school, they should be required to stay at least three years to present some semblance of continuity in college basketball.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.