NBA, USAB Execs Caught Off Guard By NCAA Changes

Executives from the NBA and USA Basketball were blindsided by an NCAA announcement that revealed a series of planned reforms involving top prospects, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the NBA, NCAA, and USA Basketball met to discuss potential changes, but the NBA and USAB didn’t believe they had come to any consensus on how to move forward on multiple issues.

One key aspect of Wednesday’s NCAA announcement was the introduction of a rule that will allow “elite” high school seniors to hire agents. That rule is expected to go into effect once the NBA’s one-and-done rule is abolished, but that’s not a lock to happen — even if it does, it likely won’t be until 2021 or 2022 at the earliest, raising questions about why the NCAA had to make such an early announcement.

Additionally, the NCAA indicated in its press release that USA Basketball would be responsible for determining whether or not a high school prospect is considered “elite.” That’s not a responsibility that USAB officials asked for or want, according to Wojnarowski, who says that USA Basketball believes the NBA is better equipped to make those sorts of decisions.

The NCAA’s rule changes, which include greater flexibility for early entrants to put their names in the draft and later decide to return to school, were initially viewed as a step in the right direction. However, as more details surface on the reforms, there’s skepticism from NBA observers and league insiders about how effective the new measures can be.

While the NCAA says it will allow early entrants to remain in the draft and return to school if they’re not selected on draft night, that rule will only apply to prospects who attended the draft combine. In 2018, just 69 prospects were invited to the combine and the majority of those players were drafted in June — in other words, the new rule will impact a very small group of prospects.

As detailed above, there’s also concern about how the “elite” designation for high school prospects will work, since it could overlook talented players and only benefit a select few.

Here are a couple more pieces reacting to the NCAA’s rule changes:

  • The NCAA’s reforms have been met with confusion and skepticism in many corners of the basketball world, according to Jeremy Woo of, who writes that the announcement “feels like a grab for positive press.”
  • Sports legal expert Michael McCann of presents six takeaways from the NCAA announcement, noting that limiting agent eligibility to “elite” male prospects could create antitrust, equal protection, and Title IX issues. McCann also observes that the NCAA appears to be relying on the NBA and NBPA to make rule changes of their own.
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12 thoughts on “NBA, USAB Execs Caught Off Guard By NCAA Changes

  1. What it means is while the moves are a step in the right direction, the NBA, NBA Players Association, and USA Basketball have to approve them, and Condaleeza Rice didn’t invite them to their meetings. This is on Yahoo Sports and ESPN too.

  2. Pitches Love Velocity

    Heres what should be done.
    NCAA and NBA need to make a joint program where you have players drafted in hs but can play 1 2 3 4 seasons of college ball at university of their choice almost like a draft and stash player teams utilize over seas.
    – players get a little financial security being drafted
    – ncaa reaps money from players playing in college developing but also increases competitiveness if johnny superball gets drafted but instead of duke goes to a lesser school to maximize playing time.
    – nba teams get their hands and rights on high upside players before jumping to the nba if they so desire.

    • LordBanana

      The NBA has a developmental league already, they don’t need the NCAA. Once they can draft high schoolers they won’t need to worry about the NCAA much.

      • Pitches Love Velocity

        Not very good at developing players. Players would be better suited having a chance to finish degrees while developing.

        • LordBanana

          Top prospects aren’t generally going to finish their degrees regardless. You think one and done players learn much in college that’s not related to sports?

          There’s no rule that says you can’t go to college during/after being a professional athlete. If anything it makes more sense to focus on studies after you’re not physically able to compete anymore.

    • SoCalBrave

      That makes no sense. The NCAA is not a developmental league. They focus on academics as much as basketball (most of the time). why would NBA teams rely on them to develop their player? injuries, bad playing habits or playing out of position, all these things happen during college

      • Pitches Love Velocity

        Same reason nba teams rely on overseas clubs to develop their draft and stash prospects. Dario saric was drafted in 2014 didnt come over till 2016. Many players drafted stashed and came over were developed by overseas clubs for 2 3 4 years at a time. Nba clubs have 0 say in how other leagues and teams utilize develop their prospects.

        At least a joint program with the ncaa gives these kids a chance to finish a college degree while developing for the nba. Most 19 20 year old kids arent ready and flame out.

  3. Steve Kerr is the one who publicly suggested letting undrafted players return to their schools. He’s involved in politics, had a successful career at the University, played with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls, was general manager of the Phoenix Suns, and now is coach of the most successful franchise in the NBA. Maybe the NCAA, NBA, NBAPA, and USA should involve him as an arbitrator.

      • And for the political part, Kerr lost his dad in the military. His dad never got to see him play for the University of Arizona.

        • paladin

          As for your ”political” part. Steve Kerr father was killed by assassin terrorists in Beirut in 1984. He was an academic professor who was in charge of the American University in Beirut Lebanon. His father was born there & Steve Kerr knows more about the world and what goes on than just about anyone not directly involved in the situation in a realistic type way.

  4. Why use the NCAA as a developmental league, when the foreign clubs do a better job at developing players?

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