BASKETBALL One-year rule has its pluses, minuses
UNC coach Roy Williams said he was glad to have Marvin Williams for a year.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Roy Williams spent three years recruiting Marvin Williams, but coached him for just one season before the freshman forward left Chapel Hill, N.C., for the NBA.
The North Carolina coach considers himself lucky to have coached Williams at all. In Marvin Williams' only college season, he helped the Tar Heels win a national championship and went on to become the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft.
"If you ask Roy Williams or our staff or our fans, they're glad Marvin came to school for one year," Roy Williams said. "I'm sure if you asked the same people at Syracuse, they'd tell you the same thing about Carmelo Anthony."
Could become more common
One-year college players such as Marvin Williams and Anthony, who went to Denver with the third pick in the 2003 draft after leading the Orange to an NCAA title, could become more common under the NBA's new minimum age limit. The rule requires prep players to wait at least one season after their high school class graduates before entering the draft.
Proponents say the new age limit will help prevent young players such as Indianapolis' Greg Oden, widely touted as the No. 1 college recruit this year, from making poor decisions and give them a chance to experience college before turning pro. He will attend Ohio State.
But some aren't convinced a short-timer is worth the investment, even for a team that needs to rebuild quickly.
"Some coaches would say they would take a kid for one year," said Arizona coach Lute Olson, who lost four starters, including three underclassmen, after falling to Duke in the 2001 national championship game. "But it's really difficult to do that for a program. I look at the program as being more important than one person."
Critics say the new rule has potential pitfalls.
Some will go elsewhere
Not all high school players will go to college. Players could opt for prep school, where their weaknesses may not be exposed; the NBDL, the NBA's developmental league where they would earn less money; or even European basketball, where they could sign lucrative contracts and endorsement deals.
And one-year players might lack academic dedication, which could affect a program's annual academic progress.
The NCAA's new academic measuring stick awards programs one point per semester for each player who is academically eligible and another point each semester for those who remain in school. A player who skips classes could cost the program points; a program that falls below the cut line for two consecutive years risks losing scholarships.
That's one reason the National Association of Basketball Coaches wanted a rule requiring players to commit for three years.
"We felt that if you had to make a commitment for three years that you'd take advantage of your academic opportunity and that if it was less than three, your chances of returning would disintegrate," said Jim Haney, the NABC's executive director. "I think the academic part will hurt more kids than we'll ever know."
Seeking multiyear commitments
Ramar Smith, a standout from Mt. Clemens, Mich., who participated in last week's Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis, says some coaches have used the new rules to ask for multiyear commitments.
"That's really what it's all about. They try to get you," Smith said.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber, whose team was ranked No. 1 most of last season and lost the national title game in March, thinks the new age limit will help college coaches retain players.
"A lot of kids think they're going (to the NBA) and their parents think they're going. Someone in their neighborhood told them they could go, then they get to college and find out they're not ready," Weber said. "Some elite kids have that chance. But how many, nine or 10? It's a small number."
Lost seven players last year
Roy Williams accepts that the lure of the NBA is too strong for some players to resist. He lost his top seven scorers from this year's championship team, including four underclassmen -- Williams, Sean May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants -- who declared for the draft.
"The NBA is not going to do something to help college basketball. It's going to do something to help the NBA, and we've got to understand that," he said. "I didn't know if we'd get Marvin for one year, but I'm glad we did."