Pitino: Allow high school athletes to skip college

March 24, 2015 / Basketball
Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino weighed in on the one-and-done trend in college, saying high school kids should be permitted to jump directly to the pros if they’re talented enough.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino believe high school players should be allowed to skip college. | Photo: M. Kultra, Wikimedia Commons
Louisville coach Rick Pitino believes high school players should be allowed to skip college. | Photo: M. Kultra, Wikimedia Commons

From ESPN.com:

“I’m very much in favor of high school kids going pro,” Pitino said during his pregame comments Saturday. “I had six young men commit to me out of high school that didn’t go to college, that went to the pros. I’m very much for that because they didn’t want college. They wanted to go to the NBA. And if they go to the [NBA Development League], that’s fine with them. But the six-, seven-month education, online classes second semester. I don’t know what that does for a young person.”

Pitino added: “Now, I’m different than, probably, the coach of Kentucky, who is having so much success with that.”

Of course, Pitino is referring to John Calipari, who has a handful of players expected to leave for the NBA after just one year. Calipari said on a number of occasions he supports a system that requires players to stay in college for two years.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo also gave his thoughts. He welcomes one-and-done players into his program, but he thinks someone should research the lives of athletes who leave early.

“Like everything else in the world, smoking cigarettes was cool, then after research of years and years and years, it develops lung cancer,” Izzo said, as reported by ESPN. “So we change our thoughts. We have not researched where a large majority of these guys that come out early [are]. … Some day, 10 years from now, there’s going to be a study of how many kids came out and ended up on the streets. That’s the crime of this whole thing.”

Izzo makes a good point. Some coaches talk about the downside of leaving college early while others support it, but hard evidence on the lives of those who have done it would be beneficial to everyone. It might even help college student-athletes make their decisions.

The issue could be addressed when the new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated in the NBA in 2017. Commissioner Adam Silver said he actually supports increasing the age limit in the NBA from 19 to 20.

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