College basketball is somewhat broken. One-and-dones come a dime a dozen and all of the other teams are filled with players we never heard of.
Fans want to watch star freshmen dominate the collegiate landscape. However, not at the expense of players being a pawn for the NCAA. This has led to now-former Memphis big man James Wisemen deciding to go ahead and prepare for the NBA Draft. And the general public shouldn’t blame him one bit.
The one-and-done rule was designed to prevent players from jumping to the league after their high school career has concluded. Granted, it appeared logical at first. The rule prevented potential teenage busts from the pitfalls of being swallowed up by the rigors of the NBA world.
But today’s society is much different than when the rule came to fruition in 2005. Young athletes in all sports understand the power they can accrue with their brand via social media. Therefore, athletes, especially in college yearn for the days they can turn pro so they can parlay their marketing power into legal dollars.
Wisemen was caught in some foolishness that didn’t really pertain to him. The issue was more so between his coach, Penny Hardaway and Wisemen’s mother. Hardaway gave his mother $11.5k for moving expenses to come to Memphis. Because Hardaway gave a million dollars to the University of Memphis in 2008, he was seen as a booster. In turn, Wisemen was seen as ineligible.
The NCAA’s punishment for Wisemen? A 12 game suspension and forced to donate $11.5k received to a charity of his choice. In the nine-figure business that’s the NCAA, this isn’t what Wisemen signed up for.
It’s no secret that colleges across the country have and are paying players to come to play for their program. It’s been a ploy for decades: teams don’t want to lose out on top talent. But the key now is that players are realizing now more than ever their value. Wisemen saw that it’s better to prepare for the draft now, then be unsure of his or his team’s standing in a month’s time.
So, Wisemen is getting a three-month jump on the NBA Draft process. While the general college basketball fan will miss Wisemen at Memphis, he will make up for it in the NBA. Besides, it was a foregone conclusion he would be a top pick regardless.
With that rationale, hopefully, James Wisemen has helped future elite prospects take control of their futures. If their seasons aren’t going as planned, they can declare and prepare for the draft. The NCAA has always gotten what they wanted from young college athletes. It’s time for those same college athletes to do the same.