Wittman on NBA Draft eligibility: Stay in school, kids

Wittman on NBA Draft eligibility: Stay in school, kids
April 1, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman makes it very clear which side of the NBA Draft eligibility debate he's on.

"The more [college players] can stay in school the better for everybody," Wittman said. "Better for the NCAA, better for the NBA, it's better for everybody. It's better for the kid."

Each season a flood of underclassmen enter the upcoming draft with freshman typically generating the most attention. Based on expectations, the one-and-done types will dominate the 2014 scenario, perhaps as never before. Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, arguably the top prospect, already announced he would enter the draft. Syracuse's Tyler Ennis did as well. Fellow freshman Joel Embiid (Kansas), Jabari Parker (Duke), Aaron Gordon (Arizona) and tons more will follow.

Depending on how the idea of an age limit fits into future collective bargaining negotiations between the NBA and the Players Association, the notion of a player leaving school after one season could be a thing of the past. That's more than cool from Wittman's perspective.

"There is a dialogue," Wittman said at the Verizon Center on Saturday before the Wizards hosted the Atlanta Hawks. "There will continue to be dialogue the way [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver is talking, trying to come to a compromise of maybe two years. I just think it makes everything better."

Wittman played four seasons over five years at Indiana University before becoming a first round pick in 1983. Never a college head coach, he served in that role for eight seasons in the NBA, the last three in Washington.

"It's got to be hard on college coaches. Each year, having one and done players, where you're turning over the team every year," Wittman said. "It's hard on us when you get guys who don't know how to play or have not learned how to play yet or are not physically ready to play yet that could have used another year.

"Add those things together and I think if you talked to college coaches as well as coaches at this level, they'd both think [age limit] would be good for everybody."

Others argue for a system without any restrictions, where future players could enter the draft straight out of high school. In some cases - LeBron James, Dwight Howard -, players have the physical and mental goods to make the leap. Other dreamers do not, even with a single season of college basketball on their résumé.

Finding the sweet spot that suits all parties is the tricky part.

"There's not a perfect system. If there was a perfect answer we'd have been at it already," Wittman said. "You can argue your point very well as I can argue my point. I just think overall for the kid, I think you have a better chance of having a firm foundation under you when you get here.

"Sometimes we're talking 18, 17-year old kids on the road for 41 games, six months of the year, [having] never lived away from home before. That's what you learn in college, you learn to be away from mom and dad, to live on your own, do some laundry."

Outside of international players, six members of Washington's roster played two seasons or less in college, including John Wall (Kentucky) and Bradley Beal (Florida). Martell Webster and Al Harrington entered the draft straight out of high school.

Asked how the starting backcourt of Wall and Beal would have benefitted with a second year of college basketball, Wittman said, "They would be a year older, a year smarter, a year stronger. Kentucky and Florida would have been better another year."

The coach made sure to make one final point on the matter.

"I'm glad they're here."

[RELATED: Wittman wants Wizards to forget about Celtics' loss]

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