As a college basketball fan, you probably weren’t following along too closely with the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) discussions that the NBA and their NBPA were having. You probably should have.
The infamous ”one and done” rule that prevents players from going straight to the NBA was a result of an addition to the CBA back in 2005. We’ve gotten so used to it that it’s easy to forget that there were players who used to just go straight to the NBA out of high school. But for every LeBron James that was successful, there was a Kwame Brown that wasn’t. The rule was added for teams to save them from themselves, and players weren’t too upset about the addition because it meant more jobs for more veteran players. Veteran players who would be paid more money.
That said, a lot of the falloff in college basketball has been pointed to this rule. Teams have focused on building teams with these types of players, and without a ton of success. People couldn’t get used to what their teams would be one season to the next, and it really seemed like it was just wasting everyone’s time to take talented players and make them wait to earn a living. It was so unpopular, editorials are still being written asking for the league and the players to get rid of it. To a certain extent, ESPN even geared their college basketball coverage around these potential starts, to help build them for the draft and then they had built-in recognition for the NBA. So, people weren’t following teams so much as people, and college basketball slowly was shoved out of relevancy till the two and a half months it didn’t coexist with football.
It sure looked like the NBA was ready to reverse their stance on this. During earlier negotiations in the summer, the NBA let it be known they were ready to drop the rule, along with their G-League team specifically set up for prospects, the foundation seemed to be there for players to thrive better than they did back in the early 2000’s. Somewhere along the way, though, that changed, and this weekend a new CBA was announced that had multiple tweaks and changes, but still included the 19 year old limit.
We can debate whether or not the rule is a good one, but with this new CBA good through the end of the decade, at this point debating it is worthless.
In the immediate future, though, this is good news for Hubert Davis and the Tar Heels. Over the weekend, as we start to look toward future teams and try to figure out who is actually coming in 2023 and 2024, one avenue that would have taken studs Ian Jackson and Elliot Cadeau away from Carolina is now closed.
The new NBA CBA would have taken effect for 2023-24, and with the attention both of these five stars are getting, it’s pretty clear that if they had the option to jump from high school to the NBA, it would have been one they could have taken. Cadeau received a ton of attention this past week at the Geico Nationals for how he performed, and that will likely just get the hype machine going even stronger.
This also could factor into the decision both he and Jackson have about whether or not they want to reclassify into the 2023 class so they could go to the NBA in 2024 instead of having to wait for 2025. Right now both are weighing the possibility of doing this. While both have said in one form or another that they are pretty strong about coming in 2024, now knowing that they can’t jump straight to the NBA could affect this decision.
In general, all recruiting after this season had this haze on it of wondering what the CBA was going to do with this rule. A look at the ESPN Top 100 for 2024 only has two of the top ten committed to a school, and six of the top 20. It’s notable that Hubert Davis already has four of the top 50 committed verbally, by far the leader of any other school. It’s completely possible those four were looking forward to playing in college no matter what, and being eager to commit to Carolina shows that.
That said, nothing is official until pen is on paper, and the building process of the 2023-24 Tar Heels is still just in its beginning stages. One thing fans were worrying about, though, is no longer going to be an issue. This amazing recruiting class Davis has for 2024 won’t lose anyone to the NBA before playing a year of basketball somewhere else.