Mark Whicker, in today's OC Register posits that the NBA's new 19-year old age limit rule helped college basketball:The unintended consequences might have actually been the rescue of college basketball.
For the first time, all four No. 1-seeded teams reached the Final Four in '08. This was not accidental. Rose and Love brought Memphis and UCLA.
And because Greg Oden and Michael Conley went to Ohio State as freshmen, the Buckeyes made the '07 championship game against Florida. That was the first time two "ones" had met for the title since Duke-Connecticut in '99. Now it has happened in both seasons since the 19-year-old rule came in.
In 2006, the year before the rule, no top seeds were Final Four teams. UCLA was a two, Florida a three, LSU a four and George Mason an 11. Although Davidson came within a botched last-second play of eliminating Kansas in the '08 regional final, the Wildcats do have a future pro in Stephen Curry. The college champs of the future will be required to bring two or three pros to the stage. Preferably, fresh ones.I am not sure what exactly the last line means, and I am not sure that the correlation of the four top seeds with pro prospects equates to causality, but he may have a point there in contending that re-routing the NBA's adds to the talent pool of the college ranks.
Now, Mark Whicker is among the nicer of the OCR columnists; although a Dorrell-apologist, he is courteous enough to carry on a civil and protracted e-mail debate regarding his opinions and I respect him for that.
But, any perceived benefit to having this talented traffic detour itself through the lower-division years of college play has been admirably deconstructed on this site. Further, it's just not clear that this is a 100% symbiotic relationship that can be sustained.
For example, the highlight of NCAA basketball is March Madness -- with the obvious emphasis on the possibility of Cinderellas making it to the dance and then sticking around until midnight without getting turned into a pumpkin. I am not sure how the ponderous predictability that a parade of favorites would affect the NCAA tournament.
As to the nature of the young men in this stream of talent, we were fortunate to have one of the more sincere and appreciative young men come to UCLA for one year. I do not believe that there are too many like him out there..
..and it will take a damn sight longer than a year (months, actually) to make these kids mature enough to handle themselves in the real world, especially if they are being lavished with tons of filthy lucre.