It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for sports fans: March Madness. It’s by far my favorite sporting event of the year. Now, of course, I am biased being a basketball player. But, there truly is nothing like the NCAA Tournament.
However, in recent years, the same debate keeps appearing. In the era of “one and dones” in college basketball, is March Madness really the same?
The answer is no.
There has been a decline in interest in the annual March tournament. I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s so hard to keep track of teams. The coaches tend to stick around, but the players do not.
You can’t really have a favorite player in college basketball. For example, if you’re a Duke fan, your favorite player right now is probably Jahlil Okafor, the star freshman center from Arkansas. Well, get ready to find a new favorite player for next year after Okafor is likely chosen first in 2015 NBA Draft.
This makes it hard for fans to become invested in college basketball. Oftentimes, one year of college is more harm than good for the players themselves. In recent times the two most successful “one and done” players are Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. While these former Duke and Kentucky athletes have enjoyed successful NBA careers, that is not the case for a majority of players who follow the same path.
Take Anthony Bennett, the Cavs’ No. 1 pick in 2014. To say he was a disappointment was an understatement. The Cavs did not get what they bargained for, and Bennett was clearly not ready for professional play. Oftentimes, when players aren’t ready for the pros, they often are prone season-ending injuries as well.
Just in the last year, there are two notable examples in Jabari Parker, the second overall pick who blew out his knee, and Joel Embiid, the third overall pick who has yet to play in an NBA game after breaking his foot.
I’m all for having a rule similar to football that would require basketball players to wait three years before entering the draft. It would help the college and NBA games exponentially. Players would have time to enhance their skills in college, the fans would be able to follow their career, and NBA teams won’t be faced with situations like the injuries of Parker or Embiid.
I truly believe both the college game and professional game would greatly improve with a rule like this in place. Most importantly, such a rule would let these kids be kids a little bit longer, and let them play in March Madness more than once in their lives.