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Jay Bilas argues players should be welcomed back in college ‘even if they don’t like their draft position’

Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Kevin Garnett

NCAA basketball analyst Jay Bilas has always been a huge proponent of college basketball as a tool for incoming prospects to gear up to the NBA game.

The recent changes surrounding the eligibility of “elite” high school athletes, who will be allowed to sign with agents once the one-and-done rule is abolished, might suggest the college product will decline.

This is likely to happen, as most players will take the money now, rather than taking a year venture at the college ranks while unable to receive any monetary benefits. However, Bilas suggested the NCAA should amplify its system to welcome back even more players under several circumstances.

“I’m a big believer as you are in education. I think education is great,” Bilas said. “It really drives me nuts when people say ‘well, some people don’t belong in college’ — that drives me crazy.

“They may not belong in your college or a college, but they belong IN college, there are thousands of college around the country. Everybody belongs in school.”

Bilas took it a step further, saying that the NCAA should welcome back not only players who have gone undrafted, but also some who got drafted lower than they expected. That could of course include high school prospects who just wound up missing their line.

“If we really believe that school is a great place for someone and really believe in education, why would we be drawing arbitrary lines as to who can come back to school undrafted or even if they are drafted?,” said Bilas. “We should be welcoming players back to school without lines being drawn as long as they aren’t professionals or sign professional contracts.

“If you wanna go with the amateurism model, fine. But if they go into the draft and they don’t get drafted, or even if they don’t like their draft position and they wanna come back, let them come back!”

While this could be a helpful tool to retain talent at the college level, it also has the potential to open up a Pandora’s box at the NBA level, as players could simply use the leverage of going back to college if they are unsatisfied with their draft position, causing teams to often “reach” for their desired prospect, even if they don’t warrant that high of a position.

This idea surely benefits the NCAA and potentially even the athletes, but it does a disservice to the NBA, which often spends millions of dollars scouting and evaluating talent throughout the season and in the summer.

Both leagues have hardly ever met eye-to-eye, and usually one benefits while the other takes a loss — yet it’s tempting to think what this could mean for the NBA, which has had a history of lottery picks fall flat throughout their NBA career.

Imagine a high school Kobe Bryant going back to school instead of being drafted No. 13 in 1996 or Kevin Garnett going higher than fifth overall, behind the likes of Joe Smith and Antonio McDyess. Even Stephen Curry, who has proven to be the most successful player of the 2009 NBA Draft, going higher than seventh overall.

Bilas’ idea has good potential, but should the NBA and the NCAA take that risk and open up a can of worms?

Tell us in the comments.