by Kent Sterling
One-and-done basketball players have no place on a college campus, as they enter their chosen university with no desire to earn a degree or see college as anything but a stepping stone to the NBA. Other schools might dream of dipping into the pool of very talented players prohibited from entering the NBA by its idiotic age limit, but Indiana University should be above that.
Australian stud Dante Exum has declared his eligibility for the NBA Draft, according to ESPN without playing a minute of college basketball because the NBA’s age limit does not apply to international players, and that is just fine.
The 6’6″, 188 lbs. point guard will be selected among the top five in the June draft, according to various projections, and would have been planned on being a one-and-done player if he elected to play in Bloomington as was expected.
While winning is fun, it should be done with bonafide students, not those serving time in the pampered purgatory of a major university waiting for the calendar to roll over so they are eligible to achieve their dream.
Indiana, minus a brief stretch of misbehavior by Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson, has always prided itself in winning while adhering to the NCAA’s rules – as well as embracing the spirit of those rules. Indiana graduates its student-athletes while providing them with actual educational opportunity.
To do anything less would be to cheat the athletes who deserve something more than a hearty handshake for filling Assembly Hall and driving TV ratings and sponsorship opportunities that drive revenue for the school.
Exum, if the reports of his excellence and dynamism are to be trusted, would have been a game changer for Indiana or another school, as he had not committed yet to play for Tom Crean.
Going straight to the NBA is exactly what he should do if that is his goal, and it’s what other players should be allowed to do.
The one-and-done rule is wrongheaded – existing only for the benefit of the NBA owners – and universities shouldn’t give its tacit approval for it by enrolling NBA players in waiting.
I’m glad Indiana was not put in a position to cross to the dark side where other coaches and universities – notably John Calipari’s Kentucky and Bill Self’s Kansas – find morally bankrupt success.
College should be for students-athletes, not pros in waiting.
Seven of the top ten draftees on Chad Ford’s latest mock draft are current college freshman, and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh is among them. Whether he is able to go to the NBA after his freshman season is yet to be seen, but a year ago it was impossible to tell whether Vonleh was going to be a one-and-done player. He was skinny and a year younger than others in his class.
That gray area is impossible to enforce, and while my seemingly selective application of virtue might be viewed as being through cream and crimson glasses, I draw the line where the development of a player is unforeseeable – as was Vonleh’s.
The enrollment of Exum would have been an impossible-to-ignore transgression – perfectly legal, but perfectly wrong.
Indiana fans should be happy that Exum has chosen to be a pro at the time he’s ready, rather than at the first moment of eligibility. The moral high ground is still the Hoosiers to claim – if not another chance for a banner.