NBA legends like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James notoriously went straight to the league from high school. The NBA’s next collective bargaining agreement could restore that phenomenon.
The NBA and NBPA are close to an agreement that would allow players to be drafted at age 18 according to The Athletic — a year earlier than they can currently. Starting in 2024, players could go straight to the NBA from high school.
The change could kill the “one-and-done” trend in college basketball that has existed since 2005, when the league increased the age minimum to 19.
(The change would not, however, give James’ son Bronny a quicker path to the NBA — he’ll graduate high school in 2023, a year before the rule would take effect.)
Commissioner Adam Silver endorsed the idea in July, acknowledging that the grassroots basketball landscape had shifted dramatically in recent years.
- The NBA launched G League Ignite, a team for 18-year-olds to get a chance to be paid to play professional “minor league” basketball instead of college.
- Some players, like LaMelo Ball, opted to go pro overseas, returning to the U.S. once they turned 19.
- The launch of Overtime Elite, a professional high school basketball league, allowed athletes to make six figures as 16- to 18-year-olds — though if they accept a salary, they won’t be eligible for the NCAA.
Despite this shift, however, one NCAA rule has the potential to entice players to play college basketball: name, image, and likeness rules.
The opportunity for players to earn income while in college has already influenced some to spend extra time playing college hoops.