Top prep stars surveyed oppose NBA’s age limit
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Le’Bryan Nash is a rising high school junior from Dallas who doesn’t know where he’ll go to college, though he is pretty sure he won’t stay four years.
“For me right now, I’m one year and done,” the 6-foot-7 Nash said.
And he’s not alone according to a survey of highly touted prep basketball stars done at the National Basketball Players Associations’ Top 100 Camp last week.
The NBPA, at the request of The Associated Press, distributed a four-question survey to the players at last week’s camp asking them about the NBA’s age limit that requires athletes to be 19 or a year removed from high school before being eligible to play in the league.
In the anonymous survey, fifty of the 108 players at the five-day camp at the University of Virginia said they do not plan on attending four years of college. And 85 campers disagree with the NBA rule that prevents them from heading to the league straight out of high school.
Nash, considered one of the top recruits in the class of 2011 by scouting services, sees college – for however long he stays – as a bridge between the NBA and high school. He said he is a good student, but pointed out he will make his college choice based on “wherever I think I can fit in, where I could be starting or would give me a chance to go one year and done.”
Some of his fellow campers would rather skip college entirely.
The survey showed that 21 players said they would turn pro right away if the age limit was lowered to 18. And if it was 20, adding another year before they could enter the league, 19 of the campers said they would look into playing professionally overseas after high school.
The age limit will be a hot topic when the league and the player’s association go back to the bargaining table later this summer. The NBPA is in favor of restoring the 18-year-old age limit, while NBA commissioner David Stern has said he’s in favor of boosting it to 20.
League spokesman Tim Frank said the league puts in additional programs each year to help young players, but added that what kids decide to do is out of the NBA’s hands.
“I don’t think it’s our decision on whether a guy wants to attend four years of college or not,” Frank said. “That’s a personal decision whether they’re a basketball player or not.”
Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., one of the nation’s top-rated rising seniors, said he plans to get his degree at some point, but if he had the chance to be a high draft pick it would be hard to ignore.
“Not to say we’re stupid or anything, but a lot of us don’t have that mindset of trying to get a good education right now,” the 6-3 point guard said. “Once we get older, I think we’ll realize that we should try to strive for a good education, but I think right now a lot of us are taking it for granted and trying to focus on basketball.”
Will Barton, a rising senior at Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore who has committed to Memphis, was one of the few campers interviewed who knew what he wanted to major in – broadcast journalism. He says college will help him achieve his goals.
“I need college,” the 6-6, 170-pound shooting guard said. “I need to get stronger. There’s a lot of things in my game that I have to work on, so I definitely need college.”
But if the NBA draft comes calling?
“If I’m a one-and-done guy, which is a lottery pick to me, I think I would leave, as long as my coaches think I’m ready. … But if I’m in my first year and they’re talking about late first round, or a second-round draft pick, or might not get drafted at all, I’m definitely coming back to college. There’s no rush. That’s my dream.
“I waited all these years, I can wait one more.”
During the Top 100 camp, in its 17th year, the value of making the most of an education is highlighted, but the camp does not presume to tell the players how to think, NBPA player programs director Purvis Short said.
“Our role here is to try to prepare the kids to deal with whatever,” Short said.
He noted that the recent NBA Finals featured several players, including superstars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, who went to the NBA straight from high school and have obviously fared well. Another prominent player that skipped college altogether is NBA MVP LeBron James.
Painting all high school kids with the same brush isn’t fair, Short said.
“I think every situation is different. There are kids out there that do want to go to college and have that experience, and there are kids whose circumstances may be a little different,” he said, citing economic and maturity differences.
“Not everybody that comes out of high school is ready for the NBA,” he added. “Not everybody that is a year removed from high school and comes in to the NBA is ready for the NBA. Not every kid that goes through college and comes into the NBA is ready for the NBA.”