One and Done in College Basketball

SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 07: Derrick Rose #23 of the Memphis Tigers walks off the court after losing to the Kansas Jayhawks 75-68 in overtime during the 2008 NCAA Men's National Championship game at the Alamodome on April 7, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

A college basketball player who declares for the NBA draft after only one year at college is often labeled "one and done" because the player was "done" with college after "one" season. The somewhat controversial strategy of only attending college for one year to comply with NBA rules for entry into American professional basketball has drawn criticism from coaches and fans alike but remains a viable option for players who are probably ready to be professionals immediately after their high school careers are over.

History of One and Done Players

The NBA has always attracted "one and done" players, often after incredibly successful freshman seasons make them high picks in the subsequent NBA draft. Carmelo Anthony, for example, helped lead Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA title as a freshman but decided not to return to school and was selected third overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Until 2005, players were not required to play outside the NBA before turning professional. NBA stars such as Moses Malone, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James joined the NBA right after graduating high school and became some of the biggest stars the NBA has ever seen. But the subject of "one and done" players became a larger debate in 2005 when the NBA and the NBA Players Association were negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and added an age limit that required players entering the draft to either be 19 years old or have completed their freshman year of college.

As a result, players who would have jumped directly to the pros out of high school were forced to spend a year in college before entering the draft, even if they had no intention of completing four years in school.

Costs and Benefits

The "one and done" rule has some benefits, including giving fans the chance to see players like Derrick Rose and Greg Oden compete at the college level, and helping high school players avoid a big mistake.

Players such as Kwame Brown and Sebastian Telfair struggled mightily after jumping to the NBA from high school, and some players, like New York high schooler Lenny Cooke, never made it after renouncing collegiate eligibility.

Critics of the one-and-done phenomenon complain that it makes a mockery of the term "student-athlete" because a player headed for the draft really only needs to maintain eligibility for a single semester, and takes any emphasis off of education. Others say it unbalances the recruiting process because coaches can search for one-and-done players without worrying about the educational aspect of signing recruits.