Zion Williamson one-and-done

Zion Williamson is one of the recent famous one-and-done college basketball players. 

Basketball players coming out of high school that see themselves playing in the NBA shouldn’t play in college for one season and then go right into the major league.

This trend of “one-and-done” continues for the most recent No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson, who played one year of college basketball at Duke and then declared for the NBA Draft to the first-ever “one-and-done” in former LSU forward Tyrus Thomas in 2006. Whether because of the insane dunks Williamson slammed to the crazy numbers he put up in high school, it was obvious he’d play professional basketball regardless if he went to Duke or not.

College is a time where one can search to find one’s place in life. Whether it be a two, three or four-year experience, one may grow as a student and person while progressing through college. If a “one-and-done” player is only going to take two semesters of classes and then declare for the draft, that player could choose a different route and gain the same result.

College basketball programs that “rent” high-prospect players for only one year are usually in the mindset to win now. If these players want to take the “one-and-done” route, that’s their choice. They could also develop their play until they feel they’re ready for the big leagues.

Look at what the Virginia men’s basketball program did in 2018-19. All the main contributors to their success in guard Kyle Guy, guard Ty Jrome, forward De’Andre Hunter, center Mamadi Diakite and guard Braxton Key, were part of the program for more than one year. Each played a crucial role and led U. Va to win the national championship that season.   

To combat one-and-dones, the NBA should allow players to declare for the draft coming out of high school. Players like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were drafted out of high school, showing it’s possible to find a face of the franchise even if they don’t spend time at a university. 

From 1962-2005, the NBA allowed players coming out of high school to declare for the draft. Many of these players, including James and Bryant, became All-Stars, such as former forward Rashard Lewis, former guard Tracy McGrady, former forward Jermaine O’Neal, former center Amar’e Stoudemire, former forward Josh Howard, center Dwight Howard and center Tyson Chandler.   

Another pathway the NBA could allow is letting NBA teams draft players and have the team’s G-League affiliate. This lets players grow in a professional environment while also being able to make money –– something that can’t be done in college. 

Top-15 prospects such as RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball have taken the route of playing professional basketball overseas instead of playing in college before they were eligible to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft. Playing overseas as an athlete comes out of high school is another route that can be taken in order to give them that professional atmosphere. 

In 2019, Ball signed a two-year deal with Illawarra Hawks in the Australian National Basketball League.

"They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs,” Ball said to ESPN. “My goal is to be the top pick in next year's draft, and I feel they can help me reach that goal.”

If basketball is the goal of a player coming out of high school, the player should be allowed to choose if he wants to go in a different direction than college, whether it be personal training, playing overseas or –– coming straight out of high school to the NBA.

Contact Andrew Oliveros at oliverab@dukes.jmu.edu. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.