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April 23, 2014

LINDLEY: Hoops stars may linger on campus a while longer

Adam Silver, the new commissioner of the National Basketball Association, scored a public relations victory when he came out in strong support of raising the league’s minimum age to 20 years old — a move that would have talented collegians spending at least two years on campus before heading off to the pros.

If adopted — and a change is probably forthcoming — it will end the “one-and-done” era of players who dipped a toe in college basketball before opting for the big pay and prestige of the NBA.

That could be a good or bad thing, depending on who you are.

College administrators and coaches would celebrate. Owners of pro teams would see it as a strategic business move. Those select older teenagers with the ability to score bundles of points might see it as a roadblock to going to work and realizing instant wealth.

The argument over drafting 19 year olds isn’t new. What’s changed is that Silver wants the league to reconsider the position hammered out with the NBA Players Association in 2005.

This is a strange time for basketball fans who watch players come fresh out of high school to help their college teams advance in the NCAA tournament. Those fans must then sit around and stew, wondering if there will be a repeat performance the next year.

Some collegians declare for the NBA draft before fans can say, “But we hardly got to know you,” as visions of championship banners evaporate before their eyes.

Even Kentucky’s John Calipari, who has churned out 13 one-and-dones dating back to his days in Memphis, said the system isn’t a good one. It robs young players of a chance to taste life before falling into a work regimen that lasts a lifetime.

A friend who experienced basketball at all levels once said to me, “High school was for fun. College basketball became a job. The pros were all business.”

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