In a somewhat foreseeable move, the National Basketball Association has formally proposed changing the draft-eligible age requirement from 19 to 18. Following a knee-injury to star college basketball player and potential NBA number one overall pick Zion Williamson, former pro basketball players and general fans of the sport pitched in on whether college athletics should be necessary for those who wish to play in the NBA. While this proposal would only come into effect in the 2022 NBA draft, the implications will change the options high school athletes have to consider once done with their education.
So, is it a good move? Depends on who you ask, but high school athletes definitely look to have the opportunity to benefit from the proposal. For high schools students whoare star athletes, going straight to the NBA through the draft will allow for them to start making larger salaries faster. For high school students who aren’t as ready for the pro basketball league, the option to go play at a college on scholarship provides both experience and an education.
Does the NBA benefit? Possibly, but the number of athletes that come out of high school ready to adequately compete in the pros has been very little historically. As high school students, athletes that are intent on going pro without college basketball experience are usually left unprepared (both physically and mentally) for playing in the NBA.
Athletes that are only 18 to 19 years old must now work harder, provide for themselves, and stay away from bad elements while constantly competing against other pros in the NBA who have been competing in the sport longer.
While the proposal constructed by the NBA is a step in the right direction, I am somewhat fearful about high school athletes joining a pro basketball league that they aren’t fully equipped to handle. In certain situations, high school athletes are so transcendent that they can make the jump to the NBA and still find success.
However, the vast majority of high school athletes will not be ready to make the jump and some might do so anyway, decreasing the chances that they find success in their careers at the next level. High schoolers, at the age of 18 to 19, have still not fully developed as adults, and yet the opportunity to join a sports league full of adult athletes is open to them. As a current high school student and athlete, I fear that a majority of the athletes at our current level could not keep up with professional athletes in the sports they participate in. The ability for high school students to grow mentally and physically in college or another, less competitive, sports league is crucial for the vast majority of young adult athletes in order for them to succeed.