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The answer to the college basketball pay-to-play crisis has been there all along

College basketball has really stepped in it this time.

As we approach March Madness, the time frame in which the sport steals the spotlight for several weeks, college basketball finds itself embroiled in a controversy that promises to only get deeper and sleazier.

Sean Miller is likely the first of many heads that will roll, as he reportedly was caught on wiretap negotiating a $100,000 payout to now-freshman DeAndre Ayton with an agent in order to secure the prospect's services at Arizona.

The result was Miller skipping Saturday's game against Oregon. Yet, Ayton played as if it were any other game.

This is probably only the tip of the iceberg in this nightmare scenario for the NCAA and the many teams that have been — and others that later probably will be — implicated in this FBI probe.

So who's to blame?

Technically, you can blame the universities' coaches, athletic directors and presidents. Heck, you can even blame the players.

I blame the NBA. The "one-and-done" format — in which a player must be one year removed from high school in order to be drafted into the NBA — has created chaos, and there's no good reason for it. If a player declares for the NBA Draft and a team deems that athlete worthy of a draft pick, so be it.

Will there be some busts? Yes. Will there be some players who we get to see play at the highest level of basketball for at least one more year than in the current climate? Yes.

Will this solve the NCAA's current ordeal? If done properly, it should.

I've never been one to jump on the "pay college athletes" bandwagon. However, I do believe that if the market deems them worthy of mega big bucks, go for it. Yet, the NBA stands in the way.

Now, we have a lot of ridiculous ideas being floated out there in order to hedge what in my mind is a cut-and- dried issue. Some are saying we should allow college athletes to be paid, but only some of them. Others are arguing for allowing the "star" athletes to sign endorsement deals while playing as an amateur.

Enough.

Are we forgetting that we're going to all this trouble simply to make a guy play college basketball for one year? Yes, all this for one year.

Well, let's dig further. I'm going categorize the players who skipped college completely to play in the NBA into three lists: players who were at least solid, others who were average and those who were busts.

Solid: Darryl Dawkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James, Kendrick Perkins, Dwight Howard, Shaun Livingston, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Andrew Bynum, Monta Ellis, Lou Williams.

Average: Reggie Harding, Bill Willoughby, Darius Miles, DeShawn Stevenson, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, DeSagana Diop, Travis Outlaw, Sebastian Telfair, Dorell Wright, Martell Webster, Gerald Green, C.J. Miles, Andray Blatche, Amir Johnson.

Bust: Korleone Young, Jonathan Bender, Leon Smith, Ousmane Cisse, Ndudi Ebi, James Lang, Robert Swift, Ricky Sanchez.

That's not to mention the likes of Moses Malone, Shawn Kemp, Connie Hawkins and others who opted to forgo college for professional stardom despite not going directly from high school to the NBA.

So let's crunch some numbers. That's 19 players who were at least solid, 15 who were average and eight who were busts. Therefore, 45 percent were at least solid, 36 percent were average and 19 percent were busts. Altogether, that means 81 percent of players who came straight from high school had at least average careers, with only 19 percent being busts.

This shows that, overall, allowing players to be drafted straight out of college did not hurt the NBA product.

That being said, I don't see how the current system helps college basketball. What good is it for a fan to watch a player for one year in college? Is it so they can refer to the likes of Brandon Ingram being a fellow Duke alumnus or Lonzo Ball a fellow UCLA alum?

OK, if you want to live in that fantasy world, go ahead. The system is set up for that right now.

But it needs to change. This is going to get uglier, and it will likely leave a big scar on college basketball. And all for what?

The NBA and college basketball need to quit micromanaging the game and let the free market right itself. If too many players are drafted too early and become busts, well, that's on them. Maybe then they can go back to college in the hope of landing a "real job" like the rest of us. It's not like they're focusing on schoolwork when they're predestined to be in college for just one year anyway.

Well, what's the alternative?

Unfortunately, we're witnessing it right now. And it's not pretty.



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