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Terrence Payne: What Needs to be Done About One and Done

Terrence Payne
Managing Editor

Tuesday night, Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel went down with a knee injury in a loss to Florida.
On Wednesday it was confirmed that Noel has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, and probably part of the next season — whether that be back in Lexington or in the NBA.

Losing Noel is big for the defending national champs. John Calipari’s team was a question for a tournament selection before Noel’s injury, and now without his presence in the paint, the Wildcats will need increased production from freshmen who have struggled this season.

While Kentucky’s season is likely up in smokes, Noel and his torn ACL have provided a major reason to reexamine the NBA’s one and done rule.

In 2006, the NBA enforced a rule that high school players could not jump to the association directly after graduation. High school seniors needed to be a year removed from graduation before declaring for the draft.

This sparked the era of the one and done. Its conflicts run deep. It’s an embarrassment on academics and the term, “student-athlete.” Some people say that it ruins the game and it’s just delaying the process.

One and done is such a complex issue. On one hand, it is a giant waste of time for many. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving fit the bill.
Durant was the best player in college basketball as a freshman, and Irving only played 11 games at Duke due to injuries. Fast forward two years and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard is one of the best floor generals in the game.

For some it’s just a year of practice. For most players it is important. Players can improve on various aspects of the game or at least mature — physically and mentally.

Some players just wait out the year to get a paycheck and become financially secure.

Noel likely fits the mold of high school players who were ready for the NBA, but there is no question that the 6-foot-10 center has benefited from his limited time at Kentucky.

Either way, the Noel injury won’t ruin his draft stock. He’ll still come out after this year and be a top five pick. Even a torn ACL won’t limit his potential. However, a red flag has now emerged around Noel. He now has a history with injuries. Whether accurate or not, we will hear tales of Greg Oden and Sam Bowie — the injury-plagued player drafted one spot ahead of Michael Jordan.

Noel’s injury sustained in college could have killed his draft stock, which would have cost him millions of dollars. All it needed was one of these top prospects to go down with a serious injury for new discussion of this seven-year rule.

I’m not against one and done. It’s fine; it works. It’s a solid option if you consider the alternative.

If you bump up the age limit to two or three years removed from high school, players would be more prone to go overseas. If you remove one and done, a floodgate will open of high school players thinking they are ready to be professionals.

All I’m saying is that this needs to be looked at again. It’s been seven years; it’s time to sit down and talk about what’s best. The Noel injury is the perfect reason to restart. It’s not a career-threatening injury, but it shows what might happen to players wasting time in purgatory for a year.

The NBA needs to be careful though, because just like when they intially made the rule, it had consequences. The same could happen if they drastically alter the criteria for the draft.

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