On February 21 USA Today reported that the NBA officially proposed lowering the draft age from 19 to 18. This report came one day after Zion Williamson, the consensus number one prospect in this summer’s draft, left a game in the first minute with a Grade 1 knee sprain.
These two events have restarted the ongoing debate about whether NCAA athletes should be paid. Williamson’s Duke team is ranked number 1 and the favorites to win the National Championship, a feat Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson accomplished twice in his three years at Villanova.
At practice the day after Williamson’s injury a reporter asked Brunson about the injury and if he’d ever had a shoe break on him before. He said no, then squatted down and literally knocked on the practice court wood.
Another reporter asked what his thoughts were about college athletes getting paid. As an NBA rookie, two-time college national champion, and former college player of the year Brunson’s opinion on the matter might be the most informed on the team.
“I actually got an A on a paper in high school. I forget what I said, but I probably said athletes should get paid,” Brunson said.
“It’s not up to me, I’m not in college anymore. I think it will happen eventually, but we’ll see.”
Later on he clarified that he still believes college athletes deserve to be paid. He brought up how much they do for their school and their community as well as how important athletics are to a school and said athletes deserve a little bit of that income.
The NCAA is a flawed system. Collegiate athletics generate obscene amounts of revenue on the highest levels yet athletes are barred from profiting off the revenue they generate. Not only are they prohibited from earning money off their athletic abilities or likeness, they sometimes lose scholarships over making money off a YouTube channel.
Luka Doncic proposed a simple solution on Twitter:
Maybe more young star players will take Luka’s advice. Maybe lowering the NBA draft age will lower NCAA’s revenue to a point where they’re even more reluctant to pay their workers.
These issues are extremely complex and as of yet no one knows how to fix this system. One thing I do know is I’d love to read that paper Jalen Brunson wrote in high school.