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Column: A game in need of repair

By E.D. Cook

Special to the Post

It’s March and it’s time for the madness to end.

Say what?
Everybody knows division 1 college basketball is big business. Games are broadcast almost every night of the week, sometimes at starting times that are obviously not chosen to benefit the players. Conferences are no longer comprised of schools with just regional rivals. New power conferences are a collection of institutions designed to enhance the league’s reputation, er, viewership.
On a local level, long-time rivals like North Carolina and Wake Forest don’t even share annual home-and-home series any longer. Everywhere you turn there are former players being paid as broadcasters, providing color commentary and analysis.
It’s madness multiplied.
But the real madness lies with using freshmen right out of high school to play at this level while making the transition to independent college life. Experts on sports talk radio recently said power conference braintrust types are again questioning the wisdom of freshmen eligibility.
It’s about time some common sense was connected to NCAA sports again.
Some might argue too many are too good as freshmen to deny them the opportunity to play. This year, top-tier teams Kentucky and Duke are loaded with dominating freshmen players.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has enhanced his reputation the last few years as a master of the one-and-done system. Kentucky faithful are enamored with Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has his own trio of talented freshmen in Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow.
But there has to be a serious discussion as some officials push for ending the one-and-done phenomenon.
Anyone with a brain knows it’s not a good idea to offer valuable 4-year college scholarships to a kid whose goal is going pro instead of graduation.
The NBA needs to develop a better minor-league system for younger players who don’t want to be in college but aren’t ready for prime time.
Conference officials will argue adopting a system more like the one used for college football and baseball will be better for everyone, including the players, colleges, and ultimately for the NBA too.
In college baseball, once a prospect signs a scholarship offer he cannot be drafted by MLB until three years later. Football players aren’t eligible for the NFL Draft until they are at least three years removed from high school. These leagues have learned the value of waiting for more mature players.
It’s time for the NBA and NCAA to end this madness.

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