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 SI.com, who writes that the announcement “feels like a grab for positive press.”
- Sports legal expert Michael McCann of SI.com 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.