My main feeling when I heard that “one and done” could finally be done was relief for one simple reason: I was tired of hearing about it.

Since then NBA instituted the 19-year-old draft minimum in 2005 (was it really that long ago?), it seems like everything that went wrong in and around men’s college basketball was blamed on that flawed rule. Is the grade going down? It is necessary to be one and done. Is the number of graduates a problem? This is because of the disposability. Coaches cheat and get arrested? One thing is done. Stock market crash? Climate change? Nebraska football? Done! Done! Done!

Rarely have so many words been devoted to something that has so little impact. There are more than 350 Division I schools in college basketball, and each roster has about 11 scholarship players. That’s nearly 4,000 players across the sport, meaning about 1,000 freshmen, maybe a dozen of whom are good enough to consider entering the NBA draft out of high school. And you can count on the fingers of one hand (really two or three fingers) number of schools that still make one-year players a staple of their recruiting. It’s not nothing, but it’s not a lot in general.

So yes, I was relieved when our Shams Charania reported on Monday that the NBA and its players association will likely lower the minimum draft age to 18 as part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be finalized later this year. According to Shams, the new rule may enter into force as early as 2024. In addition to being an insufferable debate, the one-and-done rule was grossly unfair to those few elite prospects who had a legitimate shot at turning pro at age 18. Now that we’ve entered the era of free movement in college basketball, doing away with that would be a welcome change. Thanks to the new transfer rules, players who are unhappy with their current situation can transfer to another school next season. Thanks to the new name, image and likeness rules, players can earn extra money off the pitch, in some cases reaching six figures annually. Even if the one-and-done rule was new, it felt like a relic of the past. Getting rid of him will bring the NBA back to the future.

Will college basketball “lose” some players who would otherwise be on campus? Probably. But the sport was already increasingly losing guys to the Ignite NBA G League program, Overtime Elite, international leagues and other professional venues. When disposability ends, those destinations will also become less palatable, while colleges will finally be able to compete for talent. Game, guys.

Usually, college basketball trips over itself trying to emulate what the NBA is doing, but this is one case where the league is way behind the times. This is another thing that people have missed: “One and done” is an NBA rule, not an NCAA rule. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard someone write or say, “The NCAA needs to get rid of the ambiguity.” That includes Condoleezza Rice, who made eliminating it a centerpiece of reforms recommended by her commission after an FBI investigation led to the arrest of four assistant coaches in 2017. Rice made this proposal despite the fact that a) the NCAA does not have the authority to make the changes and b) the rule has nothing to do with the violations that led to these arrests.

The people who complained that the singles “hurt college basketball” were also off base. They forget that there was nothing before what was done. Kevin Garnett never played college basketball. Neither did LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard. Do you know who did? Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeAndre Ayton, Zion Williamson, Cade Cunningham and many others who would not have gone to college otherwise. The rule may have been unfair to these teenagers, but it cannot be argued that college classes benefited greatly from the short time they spent on campus.

Of course, if people in college athletics insist on one-and-done graduations, what they really want is to see it replaced by a rule similar to baseball’s that would allow players to enter the draft right out of high school. but then make them stay in college for two years if they go that route. There is no indication that this will happen, nor should it. If this rule were in place, we’d have the exact same debate about players (Trei Young comes to mind as a recent example) who went in the lottery as freshmen. Keeping these guys in school past their sophomore year would be just as unfair and impractical as forcing them all to attend college for a year. So let’s end this conversation before it even starts.

Honestly, I would be fine if the NBA wanted to make the minimum draft age even lower. If the Boston Celtics want to spend one of their picks on a 16-year-old and then pay him for a few years while he tries to develop, who does that hurt? While we’re at it, the NCAA (whatever that is these days) should allow players who were drafted to retain college eligibility and the team that drafted them to retain their eligibility. We have crossed the Rubicon with these new NIL rules, and it is abundantly clear that college sports are moving toward an employee status/pay-to-play paradigm for athlete compensation. No possibility is considered. The old ways just won’t do.

The 19-year-old draft may have been well-intentioned, but it was poorly implemented. So please, yes, let’s hope the “one time” rule really does apply. Whatever the consequences, the college games will continue as before and will still be very much worth watching.

(Top photo: Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Previous articleQueen ‘helped Glasgow mum when she had money problems’
Next articleGemma Chan hit the Don’t Worry Darling red carpet in a gorgeous blue dress