KELLY: A new basketball development plan

KELLY: A new basketball development plan
David Kelly is beginning his 7th year covering sports for Tucson News Now.
David Kelly is beginning his 7th year covering sports for Tucson News Now.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's time for a change.

It's time to fix the problems that are surrounding college basketball.

Make no mistake that change, like many others have said, has got to come from the NBA.

It's time to allow the five-stars to get paid.

And here's my plan.

I certainly understand the NBA's concern about having 17-year old kids in their league.

Whereas some may be ready talent wise, most certainly aren't ready emotionally to be a professional at that level.

So what do we do?

We create a system that melds elements of the Major League Baseball draft system with a touch of professional soccer's loaning protocol.

Here's how it would work.

Obviously first and foremost we get rid of the One-and-Done rule that has been the gas that has continued this firestorm of dishonesty in college basketball recruiting.

Players become eligible to be drafted right out of high school.

Here's the catch. If the NBA does not effectively want teenagers in the league, that's fine.

Institute a rule that says to play in the NBA you have to be 21 years of age or have played three years in college.

Players are eligible for the draft and then after being drafted give them the same choice the baseball kids have:

• Sign a professional contract and begin your career
• Go to college

If you go to college you must stay for three years (or seasons) just like the baseball and football kids.

If you don't want to have anything to do with the charade of being a student-athlete than you go to work.

NBA Teams can draft a player and sign him to a bonus.

The more high-profile the player, the bigger the bonus just like with MLB.

Put the major dollars in the bonuses and that way you don't have to have a high developmental salary structure.

Let's talk in terms of the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton.

Say this system had been place for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The Suns draft Ayton at 18 years old (b. July 23, 1998) going on 19 for the upcoming season.

He can now be a professional and make money.

Can you imagine what a rule like this would do for the NBA's Gatorade League (formally the D-League).

Deandre Ayton would get drafted and be eligible to play for the Northern Arizona Suns in Prescott.

The Prescott Events Center and arenas all over the G-League would be packed.

The league itself could be elevated because it would be likely filled with all these five-star talents who don't want to be in college and in Ayton's case he would be required to play in the minor leagues for two seasons.

Then in the summer of 2019 when he's turned 21. He's eligible to be called up to the Suns roster and begin his NBA career.

But here's the caveat. The NBA can bring the overseas basketball world into play by creating a loan system that allows the players to potentially make even more money.

I mentioned above the NBA should put the major initial investment in bonuses and continue having a standard developmental (G League) salary structure, but in terms of high profile players, let their market value set their individual salary scale.

Example, the Suns draft Ayton, he commits to play professionally with a signing bonus and then Ayton goes through a system where he is made available to overseas clubs on loan.

Let's say his G-League salary is $80,000 but Real Madrid of the Euro League wants to pay him $500,000 to come play for them.

The Suns now have a choice. They can match the overseas offer and pay Ayton $500,000 to play in Prescott or loan him to Real Madrid for the season.

The loan element could be set-up for one-year or foreign club's could have the ability to sign Ayton for both his minor league years.

The Suns obviously retain his U.S. rights and he returns to them when he reaches the 21-year old threshold.

How would this effect on the game of college basketball?

Of course. The five-stars won't be there anymore.

The Deandre Aytons, Aaron Gordons and Stanley Johnsons of the world wouldn't be a part of UA lore.

But if I asked for your Mount Rushmore of Wildcat Basketball. Who are two of the guys likely on it?

Exactly. Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott, two guys who played for the Wildcats for four years.

Under a system like this you'll have a roster full of long-term players again who are in the program for at least three years minimum.

The flip side is, yes the five-stars now have a clearer path to becoming professionals, but this draft and loan systems would create a new class system to where the current 3.5-4 stars high school kids are now the players being coveted by colleges and there's nothing to say those kids (and their handlers) won't ask for special privileges and have coaches willing to bend over backwards to give it to them.

Because one thing that's not going to change in college sports, or at least in the sports (football and men's basketball) that provide revenue, is the pressure to win and win at all costs.

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