Two draft/NCAA-related comments:
1) a shout out to Greenie, who had a righteous rant yesterday about the news that the NCAA is considering a proposal that would allow college basketball players to declare for the draft, explore their options, and decide to return to school if they don’t get the feedback they want about their draft prospects. As a practical matter, the rule change would, if enacted, give players an extra month or so – late May, instead of late April – after the conclusion of the college basketball season, to gather information about their desirability for NBA teams. They could go to pre-draft camps, talk to teams directly and otherwise gather intelligence about how teams see them.
Greenie, who has become an increasingly resolute critic of the NCAA and its treatment of athletes, went off, noting that it’s absolutely absurd that it’s taken this long for the NCAA to consider this proposal. As Greenberg rightly pointed out, the current rule, which requires players to determine by late April whether they want to enter the draft, does nothing to serve the athletes. Its only purpose, he argued, is to make life as easy as possible for the coaches. And it’s one more illustration of the NCAA’s utter hypocrisy when it comes to the gap between their claim that they have the athletes’ interest foremost in mind and the reality.
Greenberg read some tweets criticizing his position. Among them was one that insisted that if the tweeter left his job, he wouldn’t be allowed to come back to it a month later. There is a whole genre of complaint about athletes that begins from the premise the typical worker has no more rights than a prisoner in a Soviet Gulag and that only molly-coddled athletes get special treatment. One absurd recent example: a military guy who – commenting on the way athletes are punished or not for violence against women – insisted that, in the army, they’d be drummed out of the service immediately.
That aside, please try to remember that the NCAA now depends for its legal monopoly on the claim that college athletes are not employees. Instead, as Greenberg said, they are students. And giving them an extra month to explore their post-collegiate options has no adverse implications for anybody.
That the NCAA is only considering this rule change now, as it desperately tries to sustain its day-late-and-a-dollar-short PR strategy is, as Greenie says, a joke.
2) There was much chatter last night about whether Emmanuel Mudiay hurt his draft stock by going overseas last year rather than play for Larry Brown at SMU. Three points:
a) if it is true that Mudiay was regarded as the top NBA prospect at the start of the 2014-15 season, the most immediate cause of the fall in his position to No. 5 last night was the rule preventing him from playing in the NBA as soon as he became a legal adult.
b) leaving that aside, who knows what would have happened to his draft stock had he played at SMU. If he’d gotten hurt, as he did in China, perhaps he’d be in exactly the same position. Kyrie still went No. 1 in 2011 after being mostly hurt during his one year in college, but Irving played for Duke and the guys drafted immediately after Irving, including Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson and Jonas Valanciunas did not have nearly the same buzz about them that Towns and Okafor, for example, did.
c) all of this, really, is just another opportunity for NCAA dead-enders to try to claim that a system that, in reality, largely benefits coaches, schools and administrators at the expense of players somehow exists to benefit the players.