Jim Halley of USA Today published an article today on the trend of elite college basketball players reclassifying. A “trickle-down” effect he calls it, of the “one and done era”. In the article, UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua says he is not sure whether or not Nerlens Noel’s reclassification is the beginning of a popular trend or not.
Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua, who recruited Noel and is recruiting Wiggins, said he’s not sure Noel has started a trend that will lead some elite players to try to get to their first NBA free agent contract sooner.
“It all depends on the individual and their circumstances,” Antigua said. “Everybody has different circumstances. … There’s so many other obstacles between high school and to get to the point where you actually worry about having that opportunity in the NBA. So much has to go right and all the stars have to align.”
Georgia’s Mark Fox also weighed in on the discussion:
“I would say that with today’s NBA one-and-done rule, it’s probably something you’re going to see more frequently,” said Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox. “You get a chance to get to the NBA a year earlier. … It wouldn’t be wise for anyone but the elite of the elite.”
So basically, Fox is referring to Kentucky recruits. It wouldn’t be wise except for the elite of the elite.
In all seriousness, I’m not sure if I like the idea of players leaving high school early. Four years of college is not for everyone, but I think a traditional high school education and the experiences that go along with it are valuable for everyone. Kentucky may be getting a number of reclassified players in the future, and that’s fine because the rule is what it is, but it’s an issue that deserves to be looked at and discussed. On the other hand, lots of kids besides athletes earn enough academic credits to graduate high school early and get a head-start on their college education. As long as the extra academic work is put in, like Noel is doing now, they’re simply taking classes at a faster rate (similar to what college students do in one-month summer classes). For Nerlens Noel, this was a move that he wanted himself and he has put in the work to make it happen. It is great and admirable for Noel to put in the extra work and get himself closer to his dreams, instead of coasting through another year of high school
But in the future, could others be pushed into reclassifying when it is not really in their heart or desire to do so? I hope it never gets to the point where the elite players are expected to reclassify and feel pressured to do so. If a player is so excited about going to college that he shaves the school logo in the back of his hair, and he is excited and willing to do everything required of him in order to go to college a year early, then I am all for it if it’s in the heart of the athlete’s own wishes. In the case of Andrew Wiggins, he has already moved from Canada to play high school basketball in West Virginia, so he is a player who has already made great strides to prepare himself for his future. If he would decide to reclassify, as talented as he is, it would probably make sense and he would probably embrace the decision to do so. The kid has already made the major life change of moving from Canada to West Virginia to play his third year of high school basketball, so I’m sure that he would embrace the change to come to Lexington as well in another year from now. I just hope that Wiggins, or any player that comes after him, are able to come to a decision about reclassifying solely because it’s in their heart and desire to do so, not because they feel compelled to do it or because the media and others push it upon them.