College Basketball: Skipping Out to Go Pro

nbaFor decades, it has been customary for the NBA to draft players who had obtained a bachelor’s degree. It was a relationship that benefited both the NCAA and the NBA. Since the NBA didn’t have to fund a minor league, colleges would keep players who would have gone professional.

As college basketball became more popular and commercialized, players found it more difficult to function as both player and student. This was a real problem especially for lower class, less educated, talented teenagers. They were paying for an education where they weren’t learning as much as they ought and not being paid for their athletic abilities.

In the late 60’s, The American Basketball Association began to recruit and pay players who had not yet graduated college. Spencer Haywood was one of those players. He spent one year at junior college before going on to the University of Detroit. From there, he went to be part of the USA Olympic team, where he helped his team earn a Gold medal. Upon returning, he signed into the ABA to play for the Denver Rockets. Then, against all previous NBA rules, he signed to play professionally with the Seattle SuperSonics- all before his college graduation.

Today, it isn’t uncommon for players to skip college altogether before making a break for a professional career. Examples of these all-star players include Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James and Shawn Kemp. Others play just one year of college ball. Good examples are Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. Now, out of the 60 players drafted every year, only a dozen or so have college degrees. It’s safe to say that, in the past few decades, the connection between the NCAA and the NBA has become incredibly different.

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