Maturity Comes with Experience
The current minimum draft age is 19, meaning that players need to complete one season in college before being eligible to play in the NBA. This means that players can skate through one year of a college education before becoming a professional athlete. Prior to the establishment of this rule in 2005, a player could choose between the draft, D-League, or play at least 3 years in college. Now, players view college programs simply as a stepping stone, and the “one-and-done” players don’t feel any loyalty to the program. Also, these players aren’t really student-athletes. Academic standards are much lower (D. Rose, I’m looking at you), and it puts the colleges in a weird position where they have students enrolling with the intention of leaving after one year.
How would raising the minimum age affect the game of college basketball? First, it would make the NCAA tournament much more exciting, because there would be that much more talent. There would also be more developed and mature players on the teams.
Looking at the draft picks over the past five years, there aren’t as many 19-year-olds as one may think. If the NBA required the minimum age to be 21 (or three college seasons), it would definitely change the caliber of talent. Looking at the draft picks in the second round, one can see that there are still older players drafted onto teams, so there is definitely talent from that age group that has not yet experienced the pros.
Raising the age would also create stronger rivalries and college legends, which in turn would create stronger college programs. This would also bring in more money for the college programs, because the teams would be more fun to watch. Players that stay longer build reputations and fan bases. Like college football programs, basketball teams would also bring in more money from donors and alumni.