MSU Fans Should Embrace Players Returning To School
College basketball will always hold a special place in my heart.
If you think about it, what isn’t there to love?
The most popular arenas are always packed to the brim for big games.
The biggest and best programs don’t necessarily always end up on top.
And most importantly, there isn’t a better time of year than that opening week of the NCAA Tournament, where every team has a chance to do something special. Unlike the BCS, college basketball’s postseason format is perfect– No arguments there.
But, if there is one thing that needs to change in college basketball, that is the age limit for players to be able to declare for the NBA Draft.
This idea of players coming to college for one year and then immediately bolting to the NBA is getting to the boiling point. If you are 18 years old, why should you be required to go to college for one year if it’s already set in your mind that you are going to apply for the NBA Draft the following year?
When you are 18 years old you can enlist in the Army, right? So, I ask, why not the NBA?
Fortunately, this unpopular rule has not had as big of an effect on the Big Ten as it has with other conferences.
As of today, Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger and Illinois center Meyers Leonard are the only players from the Big Ten conference who have applied early for the NBA Draft.
In just the past week, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas and Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Christian Wofford all announced they will be returning next season. The most noticeable part about this is that all four of those players would likely have been drafted and at least two of them were guaranteed first round selections, had they declared early.
As a Michigan State fan, as much as it may sting to know that all three of those teams, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State, will be better next season because of these guys returning to school, in all honesty, it is good for college basketball and good for the Big Ten Conference.
Of course, it is early on in the year, and anything can change from now until the start of the 2012 college basketball season. But, all indications point to the Big Ten being loaded with talent once again next season. In fact, many preseason polls have ranked three Big Ten teams, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana, all in the national top-10. Several of those polls have the Hoosiers ranked as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.
As I watched Kentucky cruise through the NCAA Tournament this season on their way to another National Championship, I thought to myself, do these Kentucky fans even know who these players are? After all, how much can you learn and get to know about a player in a period of five months?
Isn’t part of the beauty in college basketball the thought of getting to know your favorite players and watching them blossom over a four-year period?
Look at guys like Draymond Green, Jordan Taylor and Robbie Hummel. All three players could have bolted for the NBA earlier in their college careers, but all made the choice to come back for their senior seasons, and all proved to be good choices.
Those of us who don’t have ties to Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana can be upset about the fact that those four players made the choice to come back to school next season because that will just make it more difficult for opposing Big Ten schools. But in reality, we should be glad that these kids made that choice, because in return, it gives the Big Ten conference a good name. It shows that the Big ten Conference stands for everything that is right with college basketball.
Hopefully, one day soon, we will be able to say that about every conference in college basketball.